Position of the Podlaskie Regional Assembly

For more than a dozen years now we have been witness to a dispute over the way in which the Białowieża Forest – a natural treasure of the Podlaskie Province, of Poland and of Europe – should be managed and protected.
29.07.2017

For more than a dozen years now we have been witness to a dispute over the way in which the Białowieża Forest – a natural treasure of the Podlaskie Province, of Poland and of Europe – should be managed and protected.

POSITION OF THE PODLASKIE REGIONAL ASSEMBLY

ON THE SITUATION IN THE BIAŁOWIEŻA FOREST REGION

For more than a dozen years now we have been witness to a dispute over the way in which the Białowieża Forest – a natural treasure of the Podlaskie Province, of Poland and of Europe – should be managed and protected. The attempts made over a period of many years to improve standards of protection for the Białowieża Forest, combined with changes in the structure of its resources management and necessary measures to develop the forest region, have been resisted by the various groups involved in this dispute and have not delivered the expected results. Both the natural resources of the forest, and the people that live in and around it, have suffered as a result. Lately there has been a further escalation of the dispute on the pretext of the spruce bark beetle gradation that has been increasing in recent years. A media debate is in progress involving respected academics, foresters, and representatives of ecological groups to establish whether the spruce bark beetle is a pest to be controlled by cutting down the attacked spruce trees or a natural element of the forest ecosystem that should be left in peace. The discussions continue while the problem remains unresolved. Though several major reports and papers have addressed ways of combining methods of forest management and protection with local development, none have been implemented. The view that we are incapable of managing the extraordinary wealth that is the natural environment of the Białowieża Forest, that we are unable to reach a compromise between the needs of the forest and the needs of people, is unfortunately becoming prevalent in public opinion.

Position of The Podlaskie Regional Assembly 

Because we appreciate the importance of the Białowieża Forest for the province, the country, and the world, the Podlaskie Regional Assembly appeals to the Polish government to take decisive action leading to:

  • The elaboration and implementation, based on a compromise between all the participants in the dispute, of a unified management system for the entire forest that will also take into account the development aspirations of the people who live in the Białowieża Forest region;
  • The implementation by local authorities of the Programme for the Development of the Białowieża Forest, which is an integral part of the Territorial Contract concluded within the framework of the new European Union financial perspective for 2014–2020 between the Regional Government of the Podlaskie Province and the Polish Government;
  • The implementation of the Białowieża Forest – Europe’s Forest Heritage programme, which was devised by the forest administration.

Beside achieving the standards of natural protection set by international institutions for sites of natural heritage included on the UNESCO World Heritage list, the introduction of these measures should calm the situation around the Białowieża Forest and encourage the local community to accept the changes to the system for managing and protecting the forest’s resources. The Regional Government of the Podlaskie Province hereby expresses its active engagement and willingness to fully assist in making these objectives a reality.

 

                                                                                   CHAIR OF THE REGIONAL ASSEMBLY

                                                                                   Jarosław Zygmunt Dworzański

 

Addressees:

  1. Prime Minister, Beata Szydło
  2. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development, Mateusz Morawiecki
  3. Minister of Environment, Jan Szyszko