|Dead wood in a living forest|
(left to right: Adam, Nuria, Stefan, Anna, Francisco, Willem.
At the sound of the name, naturalists’ minds reverberate with pictures of temperate European jungle, roamed by bison, wolves, and other representatives of what “wilderness” is. Last week (26-30 Aug), the Policy Committee of SCB’s Europe Section had the chance to check imagination against reality, right at the border between
Five of us were welcomed by our charming colleague Nuria Selva, long-standing
PC member and a former PC chair, as well as a resident of Białowieża for over
15 years. Nuria is a specialist on large carnivores and carcasses, and both
Nuria and her partner Adam (naturalist, journalist) have an excellent knowledge
of “their” forest. Adam and Nuria took us for three hikes into the forest,
including the core zone of Białowieża National Park that was recently expanded
to more than 5,000 hectares: It is by far the largest remnant of primeval
temperate forest in European lowlands. Together, we could see in our eyes how a
fully-functioning forest looks like, with hardly any management. We found wolf
tracks, and were brought by Adam at fresh bison droppings (of impressive size)
- even before the dung beetles had found them! All in all, we were happy to
learn that Białowieża is, finally, at quite a good conservation status. At the
moment no immediate action seems needed for its protection, but we need to
remain alert, active and proactive. Belarus
Białowieża serves an excellent case study for many issues that are at the core conservation agenda in Europe and elsewhere: Wilderness versus management and forestry; strictly protected areas in a matrix of land use; large predators versus hunting; and the blessings and curses of EU policy – Białowieża surely provided inspiration for the true mission of our 2014 PC meeting.
Two days of intensive work were just enough to discuss consider a range of activities and questions which the Policy Committee deals with:
- Activities around the Common Agricultural Policy with a recent Science article led by SCB-ES members – successfully echoing among decision makers but requiring further actions at the European Parliament;
- the Roadless Areas Initiative, which started in our committee and is now going global – with a variety of activities including an upcoming plenary talk, session, and a concluding declaration at the upcoming Infra Eco Network Europe (IENE) Congress 2014 in Malmö, Sweden; and´
|The Policy Committee at work |
(Left to right: Francisco, Nuria, Willem, Guy, Martin.
Picture (and an empty Chair on the left): Stefan)
One of the most important topics we discussed was the next ICCB-ECCB (International and European Congress for Conservation Biology), which will take place in August 2015 in Montpellier, France. We made various observations, among others, on the preparation process (website, cooperation with the City of Montpellier etc.) and the schedule (e.g. on plenary talks and side events), and brought up numerous ideas (to be reported soon), and we are confident that our work will contribute to the success of the congress.
Stefan Kreft* and Guy Pe’er
Policy Committee of the Society for Conservation Biology -