Fourth blockade of heavy machines finished

A two-day blockade of heavy timber harvesting machines is over

After 35 hours activists from Greenpeace, Dzika Polska, Pracownia na Rzecz Wszystkich Istot and other supporters from Romania and Czech Republic finished the fourth blockade of heavy machines used for harvesting timber from the Bialowieza Forest. They manager to stop the devastation for two days and, as the coming weekend is a long one in Poland (due to a bank holiday), it means that there will be no logging for a few more days.
However, the end of the blockade does not mean the end of action. On Thursday, June 15, a great holiday begings – Weekend for the Forest. The forest and local people who oppose the logging need suport. There are thousands of people ready to defend the forest against perilous decisions of the Minister of Environment. What is more, collective resistance brings new effects, e. g. a major part of the previously closed Bialowieza Forest District has been opened for tourists.
‘It proves how important it is to stand up and speak for the forest and that it belongs to everybody, that everybody has the right to it,’ said Marianna Hoszowska from Greenpeace, encouraging people to visit the forest during the long weekend.
It was the fourth blockade of heavy timber harvesting equipment in the forest. It began on Tuesday before 6 a.m. Polish activists were joined by those from Romania and the Czech Republic, as they wanted to show their disagreement against the logging of UNESCO World Heritage Site.
‘The forest is a huge treasure not only for the local people, not only for the Polish nation, but also for humankind. European Commission stands for the forest. UNESCO experts, scientists from Polish and foreign research institutes as well as thousands of people make negative statements concerning the decisions of the minister of environment,’ says Katarzyna Jagiełło from Greenpeace.
Harvesters were blocked for two days, which made it possible to stop the logging and save about a half thousand of trees in valuable parts of the forest. It is the longest blockade so far.
‘We are really grateful to our friends from the Czech Republic for their suport,’ says Adam Bohdan from Dzika Polska.
The activists were blocking the equipment also at night. They were supported by local people who brought them warm food. Also the virtual presence of other supporters and spreading the news was very significant to the activists.
After the succesful blockade everybody started getting for the long weekend’s event – Weekend for the Forest that will be filled with trips into the wild, birdwatching, activities for kids and families, meetings, films and music.

Scientists banned from the forest

On the 8th of June heavy wood harvesting machines were blocked by a group of activists. The activists made an appeal to let scientists come to the forest, to the places were trees had been logged, and to make a scientific assessment of the logged trees – whether they were infected by the spruce bark beetle or not. They were to check if the cuttings in the zone protected by UNESCO and in over century-year-old forest stands could be somehow justified.

However, when on June 9, four distinguished scientists arrived at the site, they were immediately asked to prove their identity. The foresters made it impossible for the scientists to get to timber depots, trying to hide mass destruction of whole wooded areas. Finally, it was demanded for the scientists to leave. It should be pointed out that the chief forester of the Hajnówka forest district, Grzegorz Bielecki, had previously declared open access to the forest for all scientists and researchers.

prof. Wesołowski