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Białowieża Forest, Poland

This is one remaining part of the primeval forest that used to stretch across the European Plain. Logging limits have been largely expanded, threatening giant spruce trees, oaks and ash trees, and the European bison.


Bialowieza Forest is one of the remaining parts of the primeval forest that used to stretch across the European Plain. It is home to giant spruce trees, oaks and ash trees, and more than 20,000 animal species. The most famous of these is the European bison. The forest stretches over parts of Poland and Belarus, and is Poland's only natural UNESCO world heritage site. It is also a Natura 2000 area.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Białowieża Forest, Poland
State or province:Podlaskie Voivodeship
Location of conflict:Białowieża
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biodiversity conservation conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Deforestation
Establishment of reserves/national parks
Logging and non timber extraction
Specific commodities:Biological resources
Ecosystem Services
Live Animals
Project Details and Actors
Project details

In the current Forest Management Plan (2012-2021), the European Commission and Poland agreed upon a logging limit of 63,471m³ within the Bialowieza forest district. This amount was reached almost four years after the plan's entry into force. In March 2016, Polish environment minister Jan Szyszko (PiS) approved an annex put forward by the State Forests Service that raised the logging limit to 188,000m³. The new limit is thus almost three times higher than the initial one.

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Project area:12,593 (Białowieża Forest District)
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:17/01/2016
Relevant government actors:Państwowe Gospodarstwo Leśne "Lasy Państwowe" (State Forests Service).
Ministerstwo Środowiska (Ministry of Environment).
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Greenpeace Poland (
WWF Poland (
ClientEarth Poland (
Dzika Polska (
Greenmind Poland (
Ogólnopolskie Towarzystwo Ochrony Ptaków (OTOP)
Pracownia na rzecz Wszystkich Istot (
State Council for Nature Conservation Poland (
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Violations of human rights
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (undecided)
Under negotiation
Development of alternatives:The proposal brought forward by all EJOs involved is to not raise the logging amount to a higher level than that agreed upon with the European Commission.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The project is in operation.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

DIRECTIVE 2009/147/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 30 November 2009 on the conservation of wild birds.
[click to view]

Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora.
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Complaint to the European Commission concerning alleged breach of Union law
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Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Wikipedia: State Forests (Poland)
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Radio Poland
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The Guardian
[click to view]

Show your support: STOP destruction of the Białowieza Forest!
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The Guardian. 7 April 2017. Polish law change unleashes 'massacre' of trees. (With a description of the Polish Environment Minister's thoughts).
[click to view]

"Last stand for Europe's remaining ancient forest as loggers prepare to move in" The Guardian (18 May 2016)
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Youtube clip
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Joel Tillgren, Philipp Kuhn, Emma Brodén (Lund University).
Last update13/04/2017
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