More than 230 representatives of Polish culture and science have signed a joint letter to President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Beata Szydło appealing for protection of the Białowieża Primeval Forest.The letter has been signed, among others, by directors Agnieszka Holland, Jerzy Skolimowski, Andrzej Jakimowski, Borys Lankosz, Xawery Żuławski, actors Jerzy Stuhr, Jan Nowicki, Adam Ferency, writer and Nobel prize winner Herta Mueller, writers Ingo Schulze, Olga Tokarczuk, Krystyna Kofta, Marek Zagańczyk, and history professor Andrzej Friszke.
People of culture and science appeal in their letter “to intervene and immediately stop the devastation of the oldest Polish forest”.
In the area of Białowieża Primeval Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there is a growing number of hundred-year-old trees being cut down – the letter reads.
There used to be a moratorium imposed on old-growth forests, however, the State Forests have challenged it in unclear legal circumstances.
Scientists, naturalists and people of culture are concerned about the destruction of the oldest forest, but also the creation of an ad hoc law that apparently only justifies its devastation – the letter says.
It also points out that the forest clearing is “a closely guarded secret”, and “in order to be safe from witnesses, the entrance to forest trails in the Białowieża and Hajnówka Forest Districts was closed”.
In the letter, people of culture and science recall that the UNESCO World Heritage Committee distinguished the Białowieża Forest for the universal values that “the forests of the Earth have already lost”.
Every fallen old tree is like a page taken from the Chronicle of the Polish Legacy in the Heritage of Mankind. And it is not a very large book. As its depositors, not owners, we should care for and preserve it for future generations.
Paweł Mucha, the spokesman for the Ministry of Environment, said that the actions are aimed at restoring the forest to a state when it delighted with beauty.
And today we have a lunar landscape – says Mucha. He adds at the same time – the fact that the good of the Białowieża Forest is at heart of people of culture is pleasing. I would like to emphasise, however, that at this moment in the Białowieża Primeval Forest, only the removal of diseased trees takes place, ie those which have been infected by European spruce bark beetle.
We are obliged to remove diseased trees and those that pose a threat.
As he points out, it was for this reason that the State Forests issued a ban on admission to certain hiking trails.