Last Stands: Foresters and Ecologists Face Off Over the Future of Europe’s Oldest Forest

[Sample Record]

“Last Stands: Foresters and Ecologists Face Off Over the Future of Europe’s Oldest Forest”, in Science, December 8, 2017. p. 1240-1243.

Abstract: Bialowiela, Poland, is the gateway to the most primeval forest remaining in Europe. (Most of the oldest forest is across the border in Belarus.) State Forests, the Polish agency that manages forest resources, states that the Bialowieza Forest is threatened by the spruce bark beetle, and cutting is necessary to protect the forest; environmentalists and masked protesters demand zero cutting. In 2016, the amount of of the timber harvest in the forest was tripled from the previous year. In addition, State Forests notes that the mix of trees making up the forest is changing over time, and some monocultural areas should be cut and replanted. State Forests has undertaken a major study to prove that selective logging will sustain biodiversity, not harm it.

The core of the forest is the 48-square kilometer “strict reserve” area within the national forest, comprising Old Growth, with wolves, lynx, and the largest bison herd in Europe. Some 10000 species of insects and 1850 kinds of macrofungi have been identified; many are found only in this forest and are listed as endangered.

The larger Bialowieza forest beyond the national forest covers 1500 square kilometers, and has been protected for 600 years. In WWI there was industrial logging, and decades later those areas were replanted. The least spoiled area was listed as a nature reserve in 1932, and later as a national park. The park grew to include 102 square kilometers, 17% of the Polish part of the forest. Today, State Forests employs 250000 people and manages 94% of Polish forests. Nature tourism in Poland is now estimated at $20-25 million a year.

Forest ecologist Jaboury Ghazoul at ETH Zurich notes that there is no scientific answer to the question of what the best management practice should be for the forest, it is simply a question of values.

Environmentalists reject all State Forests claims of scientific management of the forest as a smokescreen to conceal the real goal of cutting to forest to make quick money. (Includes map of the forest lands in Poland and Belarus.) [TXT]

Main Author: Stoskstad, Erik

Published: 2018

Geographic: Belarus, Poland

Subject: Biodiversity, Dissidents, Endangered Species, Environmental Organizations, Forest Management, Insects, Mammals, Masks, Mycology, Sustainable Forestry, Timber, Tourism, Wildlife

Corporate: Bialowieza Forest, Bialowieza National Park, State Forests

Named Person: Ghazoul, Jaboury [Switzerland]

Place of Publication: USA

Document Type: Journal

Record Type: Full Text

Source Language: English