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Monday, 29 February 2016

Białowieża Forest at risk due to proposed management measures

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Proposed policy changes to the 2012-2021 Forest Management Plan by the Polish Government threaten the integrity of Białowieża Forest and risks losses in species diversity and ecological processes, according to an article published in the February 25th issue of Nature that highlights recent commentaries from three Polish scientists about their concerns around the proposed policy changes.

Białowieża Forest

‘Białowieża Forest represents a unique reference in Europe, and a fascinating source of scientific knowledge. Different forest types and high structural diversity result in an exceptional biodiversity fully justifying its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. More than 12,000 articles in Google Scholar are returned when typing the word “Białowieża”, and more than 4,000 scientific publications are derived from studies conducted in Białowieża Forest,’ said Dr Nuria Selva, Associate Professor at the Institute of Nature Conservation, Polish Academy of Sciences, who studies wildlife conservation and policy.

Supplementing the correspondence in Nature, the Society for Conservation Biology European Section (SCB-ES) wrote a letter to the Polish Prime Minister, Polish President, European Commissioner, UNESCO and Council of Europe expressing concern about the Polish Governments plans to modify the existing 2012-2021 Forest Management Plan for Białowieża Forest. In the letter, Dr Selva and SCB-ES colleagues highlight that the forestry practices proposed in an amended Annex set out by the Polish Government, such as salvage logging as a response to bark beetle outbreaks, break the limits of timber extraction established in the Forest Management Plan 2012-2021, and are not only unnecessary for the protection of the Białowieża Forest, but are counterproductive. The proposed changes to the 2012-2021 Forest Management Plan have met strong opposition from Dr Selva and Polish colleagues as well.

‘Białowieża Forest should be governed mainly by natural forces, not by standard silvicultural measures. Proposed silvicultural measures, whose origin is in timber production, not biodiversity protection, ignore the key role of bark beetles in forest dynamics and processes. Numerous species, like the three-toed woodpecker, depend on these ecological engineers, and will be negatively affected by the planned changes in the management of this Natura 2000 site,’ said Dr Selva.

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CONTACT:
Dr Nuria Selva, nuriselva@gmail.com, Polish Academy of Sciences.


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