30.08.2018 change 30.08.2018

Researchers appeal again to the Prime Minister for giving the entire Białowieża Forest the status of national park

Świnoroje, (Podlaskie) 17.10.2017. (ar/am) PAP Świnoroje, (Podlaskie) 17.10.2017. (ar/am) PAP

A group of about 140 scientists has appealed again to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki for giving the entire Białowieża Forest the status of national park on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Poland`s independence.

The content of the second open letter on "the future of the Białowieża Forest and improvement of the image of Poland in the world" was made available to PAP last week. About 140 scientists signed the letter, including researchers from the institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences and natural science departments of the major Polish universities.

They remind that the Team for the Draft of the Act Regulating the Status of Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Bialowieza Forest, established by the President of the Republic of Poland Lech Kaczyński, worked on the expansion of the national park to cover the entire Białowieża Primeval Forest in 2006. "Solutions combining various needs related to the protection and use of the Forest, including social needs, are therefore ready" - the researchers write.

"Therefore, as conscious citizens and scientists professionally dealing with nature, we repeat our appeal to the Prime Minister: let us celebrate the centenary of regaining independence by Poland by creating a national park in the entire Białowieża Forest!" - the authors emphasize in the letter to the Prime Minister.

They point out that "the Białowieża Forest is the largest and best preserved primeval forest on the lowland of Europe and as such it constitutes a huge capital, which we must not squander by continuing commercial activity in the forest". "In the light of the Convention on Biological Diversity indicating the need to protect 17% of terrestrial environments (...) by 2020, the protection of the most valuable forest in Europe, constituting only 0.7% of forests in Poland, should be beyond dispute!" - we read in the letter.

Biologists emphasize that the government should be "proud" that the Białowieża Forest is an object that is well known and valued all over the world, "still retaining many features of primeval forest". "The Białowieża Forest, like Wawel, should be treated as a priceless national treasure, and decisions about its fate should be taken at the highest levels" - the researchers write.

This is the second letter from those authors to the Prime Minister regarding the Białowieża Forest. The same group of signatories sent the first letter in May 2018. In the second letter, the researchers emphasize that they are not satisfied with the answers they received, signed by the Minister of the Environment, Henryk Kowalczyk. They describe it as "bureaucratic, indicating lack of understanding of the problem, underestimating the protection of this natural forest complex that is most valuable not only in Poland, but across Europe". They ask the Prime Minister whether the letter signed by Minister Kowalczyk was the official position of the Polish government regarding the protection of the Białowieża Forest and its status.

"The arguments in the letter of the Minister of the Environment depreciate the natural value of the Białowieża Primeval Forest, imply that the Białowieża Forest is nothing extraordinary in terms of its natural value, because +every forest composed of native species is a natural forest+" - scientists write to Prime Minister Morawiecki.

The spokesman for the Ministry of the Environment Aleksander Brzózka told PAP that if the letter reaches the Minister of the Environment, the Minister will respond to its authors after reading it. (PAP)

autor: Izabela Próchnicka

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