Forest Conservation in Poland

Bialowieza National Park in eastern Poland, is the last remaining true primordial forest in all of Europe. It represents what Europe looked like prior to the last Ice Age ten thousand years ago when the European Bison, or Wisent, first described by Aristotle, was numerous. Today that species — distinct from the Canadian Wood and American Prairie bison — is still under threat. Approximately 3,500 remain in the world, half of them living in the wild. A large proportion live in Bialowieza and on the Belarusian side of the contiguous forest. What makes Bialowieza particularly crucial for future conservation strategies in Europe and globally, is the fact that the forest is not swept clean of its deadwood. The deadwood is the key to invertebrate abundance, and a rich suite of taxa, including numerous species of woodpecker.

With our friend and colleague Tomasz Wesolowski, Chairman of Avian Ecology at Wroclaw University, and one of the foremost experts in Europe on cavity-nesters like the woodpeckers, we explored in depth and recorded for DSF’s Sanctuary the forest, in hopes of helping to draw attention to the ongoing plight of Bialowieza. Despite her celebrity — it was the first national park out of 23 in Poland and was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 — the forest margins continue to lose trees to foresters. With botanic wealth unequalled anywhere in Europe (hosting as many as 1,050 flowering plants and13,000 known animal and insect species) and an old-growth paradigm in place that scarcely exists elsewhere on the Continent, Bialowieza is a critical indicator of the future health of all ecosystems in Europe. Satellite imagery confirms the alarming pattern of patchy and degraded forest across this part of Eastern Europe. Few sanctuaries remain. In Poland itself, the total amount of fully protected area in the whole country is no more than 1%.

For more information:

> Bialowieza National Park, Poland
(Here is the English Translation)

One Response to “Poland: Forest Conservation”

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