Three-day blockade at Majdan terminated by police intervention at dawn

The blockade at Majdan, near Topiło – at the heart of the Forest – managed to keep itself for 3 days and nights. Today early in the morning it was broken by a numerous police group.

The situation at the blockade in Majdan, after some turmoil at the beginning, got stable and peaceful. Until today’s morning, when at 4 a.m. a big group of police came. They surrounded the activists, wrote down their identities and started cutting out the fence behind the activists’ backs.

Although the blockade came to an end, it was successful because the logging of the Forest was stopped for three days.

A question arises whether the UNESCO decision will stop the logging. The machines keep working in the Forest. The fight is certainly not over. Polish Prime Minister, Beata Szydło, declared that ‘there is no such decision (UNESCO on halting the logging). The information is untrue. The debate is postponed for the next year, exactly the way Poland put the case.’

We still need your support!

For the first time in the Forest two blockades at the same time

There were two blockades in the Forest yesterday.

It was a historical and symbolic moment of fight fot the Forest with 2 machines blocked at the same time here and UNESCO deciding on the future of this World Heriatge Site in Cracow. And even more so, because the activists were able to block the machines despite the national mobilization of the Forest Guards.

The Directorate of State Forests has ordered a nationwide Forest Guard mobilization to set up a group to protect harvesters from being blocked. With a lot of courage and determination the Huta Dahu’s activists, the Friends of the Earth Foundation, the Polish Wildlife Foundation, and people from Spain and the United States blocked the harvester’s work near Sorocza Nóżka near Hajnowka.

The situation on the 8th blockade got very difficult. The man  behind the harvester’s wheel didn’t want to stop the machine, in spite of explanations and requests. He could have badly hurt the activists. Also the police and guards appeared at the site. They were openly agressive and used force. They also surrounded the activists on the harvester and prevented access of the media. One of the activists was brutally arrested. Finally, in the afternoon, on the news from Cracow the blockade came to an end.

The blokade near Topiło is continued  – third day in a row!

Today activists are also checking if Szyszko is still logging despite of UNESCO decision.

We will let you know about this what is happening in the Forest in the afternoon.

Please download videos:

RAW files from the 8th blockade

Hooray! Happy news from the UNESCO session.

Happy news today from the UNESCO session.

The decision calls Poland to stop the logging immediately. It also points at overexploitation of the Forest by the government, which in turn harms its outstanding natural values. It states that the logging is against the EU’s law and that IUCN mission wil be sent to the Forest to report on its condition under the current management, which can result in adding the Forest to the World Heritage in Danger List.

Here you can read more about the victory:


UNESCO decission today. Two blockades in the Forest!

UNESCO session is taking place – the Bialowieza Forest issue is being discussed today in Cracow.

Meanwhile, in the Forest, there are two blockades. One of them, the 7th one, lasts uniterruptedly since yesterday. The machines are blocked deep in the Forest and the activists are outside mobile phone range, so no streaming is possible.

The other one, the 8th one, has just started. Despite the presence of the activists that attached themselves to one of the machines, the works are not stopped. The situation seems dangerous at times. There is also police at the site.

The message of the blockades is clear: Our heritage not for sale!

The whole World is also with us. At the site of blockades there are people from Poland, Czech Republic, Spain, USA.

Also yesterday 13 MEPs sent a letter to commissioner Karmenu Vella to take Poland to Court of Justice and stop logging in Bialowieza forest.


Demonstration in Cracow

On the 4th of July, a day before the UNESCO decision about the special IUCN mission being sent to the Bialowieza Forest to assess the stuation at the World Heritage Site that has been suffering from mass logging, a demonstration of support for the Forest took place in Cracow.

About a thousand people from all over Poland arrived to demand protection of our national and European natural legacy and to protest against Minister Szyszko’s policy that destroys the Forest. NGOs, representatives of the local community, famous artists and scientists called to stop the logging and protect the Forest as a national park.

Sadly, a counter-demonstration of foresters who represented the State Forests tried to drown the demonstration out by all kinds of noise.

The message, however, is clear. A big part of the society is deeply concerned by the situation in the Forest and they see no alternative but to stop the destruction and start protection.

Our heritage is not for sale! It’s priceless!

We have to preserve it for future generations!

To watch the demonstration, please, head to the video below.



UNESCO – message from the activists and Minister Szyszko’s ideas

On Wednesday morning a decision will be taken at the UNESCO session whether to send a special mission to the Forest to investigate into the situation here or not.

Meanwhile, despite the reinforced control of the forest guards the 7th blockade of the heavy timber-harvesting machines started in the Forest on Tuesday, July 4. You can read more about the blockade here. In spite of the presence of the forest guards also two remaining stayed at the parking space in case they could be blocked too.

The protesters that come form Poland (from Dzika Polska and Camp for the Forest), the Czech Republic and the USA (from Hnuti Duha and Friends of the Earth) wanted to send their message to UNESCO and to the World. They asked for reaction in the situation when regulations are being violated and a World Heritage Site – destroyed by harvesters that fell a few hundred trees every day.

The activists said:

  • ‘UNESCO, forests like this one are disappearing from the map of the world.  You can save this one. You are capable of doing it. Please, don’t hesitate.’ (Jeremy Fane, USA)
  • ‘UNESCO, we are doing our job here. Now we are waiting for you to do yours.’ (Tomasz Jabłoński, Poland)
  • ‘A big group of Czechs arrived especially for the protest to the Bialowieza Forest. We want to continue our support for the Forest as long as necessary. We believe that UNESCO will hasten Polish government to take the right decision concerning the Forest and that the logging will come to an end. Thus, the effort of so many people will not be in vain.’ (Jan Skalik, Hnuti Duha from the Czech Republic)
  • ‘It’s really sad that Minister Szyszko, similarly to some vandals from the Middle East, destroys a property inscribed on the World Heritage List, a place many countries can only envy us.’ (Adam Bohdan, Dzika Polska from Poland)

Follow the link to listen to the activists’ message to UNESCO Commission

At the same time when the activists were using their own bodies to prevent forest trees from being cut down, when a demonstrartion in Cracow was taking place, Minister Szyszko has started to look for allies that could help him postpone UNESCO’s decision of inscribing the Forest of World Heritage in Danger List. Why? He wants to kill the decision concerning the Bialowieza Forest prepared by scientists who are UNESCO experts. According to this decision one more IUCN mission should be sent to the Forest (the first one was in 2016) to check if the forest management poses threat to wildlife and if the Forest should be inscribed on the Heritge in Danger List.

The decision also calls to stop the logging in old-growth stands without any delay. It points out that Polish government uses logging also to extract healthy, uninfested trees. What is more, it states that the logging was started without any assessment of its impact on those values of the Forest that were crucial for its designation as the World Heritage Site. Finally, it urges the government to prepare a new management plan that would protect the UNESCO site.

However, Minister Szyszko’s team prepared amendments to the Draft Decision. Their aim is to postpone the decision and the mission until 2019. Till then the current logging plan will have been fulfilled.

The Minister wrote a letter that was circulated among the delegates. In the letter he encouraged them to open a discussion over the Draft Decision. The Minister also enclosed in the letter his invitation to the Forest for July 8. in order to clarify the situation obscured by NGOs – a situation harmful for the foresters and blind to the needs of the local community, as Paweł Mucha, Ministry of Environment spokesman explained.

According to NGOs this ad hoc action is to replace a discussion based on scientific data prepared by IUCN.

Fingers crossed for the UNESCO decision!


7th blockade in the Forest – our heritage is not for sale!

Parallel events with one goal in mind are happening now – UNESCO session and the 7th blockade of heavy machines in the Bialowieza Forest, because our heritage is World’s heritage and not for sale!

Today in the morning, near Topiło another blockade started. Activists used heavy barrels filled with concrete to make it impossible for the timber-harvesting machines to leave their parking lot in Majdan, near Topiło – a village at the heart of the Forest. The machines had been used for felling trees in over 100-year-old stands in the UNESCO area that should be excluded from any timber extraction.

People taking part in the blockade come from Poland (connected with Dzika Polska, Camp for the Forest), the Czech Republic and the USA.

Today a big demonstration is going to take place in Cracow at 4 p.m. If possible, be there! Let’s show our support for the Forest!

At the same time a counter-demonstration of foresters is going to be held. Very often the foresters themselves are not willing to participate but are delegated by the State Forests and have nothing to say. This is a part of State Forests’ propaganda. But if the voice of solidarity with the Forest is strong these days, we can do much. We can be heard.

Beginning of the 41. UNESCO session and a demo for the Forest – show your support!

Current events naturally have to do with the 41. UNESCO session taking place in Cracow.
Significantly, it is already known as a fact that the issue of the Bialowieza Forest will be discussed at the session, and on Wednesday morning the decision will be taken whether the special expert mission will be sent to the Forest. Hopefully, UNESCO will react against Minister Szyszko’s decisions (the logging) and rely on scientific knowledge.
On Sunday, July 2., first action for the Forest took place in Cracow. Representatives of the Camp for the Forest, which is the camp in one of the forest villages – a place to stay, learn about the situation and get involved, told about the camp, their protests and why the Forest should be protected.

Today, July 4., at 4 p.m. a demonstration of support for the idea of protection of the Bialowieza Forest is going to take place in Cracow.

Meanwhile, in the photos from the session (by Greenpeace), you can see a little but very telling trick.

Huge penalty charges for activists defending UNESCO World Heritage Site

There are quite a few difficulties activists defending the Bialowieza Forest have to face. Not only are these hardships of slowing the logging down by blockades and sacrifice they involve. Now, these are also very high penalty charges that add up to the list.

The State Forests’ unit responsible for transportation from Giżycko, which is in charge of the machines used for timber harvesting in the Forest, has employed a legal office to send letters with payment requests to all participants of the blockade from May 30th. What is more, people who get the request were often only visitng the site of blockade to show their support for the activists.
‘Let them be afraid. When they were doing their mischief, they weren’t frightened, and now they are?’ says the director of the unit.
The activists, however, don’t let anybody scare them away. They believe in the power of solidarity. They also started collecting money to employ a lawyer that would help them tackle the problem with penalty charges.
Donations would be very helpful. The Forest is our common legacy.

6th blockade finished. Solidarity goes on!

The 6th blockade of heavy machines, which took place in a remote part of the Forest near the border with Belarus and out of phone range, came to end yesterday afternoon. The weather was very stormy and windy, which made it dangerous to stay in the Forest. Also the timber-harvesting machine left the place, which means the blockade was successful and the activists managed to save many trees.

‘It is scandalous that while representatives from countries all over the world are getting ready for the UNESCO session in Cracow, where also the case of Bialowieza Forest will be discussed, Minister Szyszko uses heavy machines to cut down the most valuable part of a World Heritage Site, ‘ says Anna Błachno, one of the activists taking part in the blockade.

The 41. UNESCO session starts in Cracow this Sunday (July 2). Solidarity actions are going to be held in Cracow and in other places. We can always support Bialowieza Forest, even from different parts of the globe. Help the Forest, save Bialowieza!

Photos courtesy of Małgosia Klemens. Thank you!