Mass action in the Bialowieza Forest – three blockades at the same time

For the first time ever three blockades of heavy equipment took place in the Forest simultaneously

Last Friday Minister of Environment undermined the credibility of materials documenting the logging in the Forest that were sent to the European Court of Justice. It can be assumed that the resort denies the fact of intense, commercial logging. They also claim that the only works carried out at present aim at public safety, while not so long ago it was the spruce bark beetle that served as an excuse. In answer activists are blocking heavy machines to show evidences and places and where logging take place.

04 and 05.10.2017 Activists from the Camp for the Forest blocked logging and transport of timber in three places: on Wilczy Trakt – a forest road near the village of Teremiski, where huge piles of logs are stored; near the educational centre in Grudki and at the parking space near the village of Podwaśki.

At the parking lot in Podwaśki, after two hours of protest, the blockade was broken in a violent way. Men operating the machines started the engines and put the long arm of harvester with protesters attached to it into motion. One of the workers took active part in pacification of the blockade, tearing one of the activists and pulling him away, even though he had no right to do that. One of the forest guards used a knife to cut the tapes by means of which the protesters had their hands tied together inside the tubes they put on to create a human chain. Some of the activists got slightly hurt as a result. What is more, some girls were pulled out from the tubes by force and by two forest guards at the same time.

watch video from action:

One of the activists was detained by the police for a more than 24 hours for the alleged breach of bodily integrity of one of the officers.

The second blockade – in Grudki – came to an end after about four hours, after an agreement between the machine operators was reached. Once the activists left, the workers took the machines back to the parking lot, where they were to remain till the evening.

The third blockade – on Wilczy Tryb, near Teremiski – is not over after 34 hours. Blockade is closing forest route from both sides for harvesters and trucks where huge stores of wood are waiting for sale and transport. Barrels with concrete were placed there and a platform was hung on ropes among the trees to make it impossible for logging and transporting machines to enter.

videos from blockades at Wilczy Tryb:

Tracks that came for the logs, left the place empty.

watch video from the road full of spruces:

Logging just before the deadline to respond the EU Court of Justice. And another blockade.

Machines in Bialowieza Forest District were once again blocked – more violence, girls harassed, Frenchman held at the police station for the night.

The 28th of September marks the deadline to respond to the European Court of Justice regarding European Commission’s application to punish Poland for the logging in the Bialowieza Forest. Despite the application for punishment, logging goes on. And so do the protests.

On the 27th of September a protest took place in the Białowieza District, one of the three local forest districts. At the site old-growth forest stands were cut down by heavy timber harvesting machines. About 15 activists from different countries, among others, from France, Spain and Italy, managed to block the machines. Those blocking the forwarder were violently pacified, their hands were brutally pulled out of the blocking equipment. Please, watch the video:

Protesters sitting on the harvester were not pulled down by forest guards. After four hours of blockade and on being ensured that machines would not be at work till the end of the day, activists decided to leave the machine.

About 50 policemen and forest guards were involved in the action against the activist. Among them Mirosław Juszczak, who is already known for nationalist opinions that were expressed by a badge on his uniform, saying: ‘Death to our motherland’s enemies.’ According to the State Forest’s spokesperson, he was not be sent to work in the Forest again. However, during the blockade, he was very active and seemed to be the person in charge of the whole action.

One of the activists was harassed – a forest guard was filming her while she was answering the call of nature.

The same forest guard, without any permission, was taking photos of an under-aged daughter of one of the activists, asking her to smile.

One French protestor was taken to the police station in Hajnówka, where he was kept for the night.

Please, have a look at the photos below, too.

Logging does not stop in the Forest

As Poland is waiting for the decision of the European Commission whether the penalty will be charged, the logging goes on as if nothing has happened. Forest guards keep an eye on the harvesters and piles of timber grow on the sides of forest roads. The excuse still bears the name of “sanitary cuttings” but it is conducted even deep in the Forest, just as in the video below. Please, also have a look at the photos at the bottom of the page to see the scope of damage.

(Thank you once again, dear Małgosia Klemens, for the photos!)

Trial of activists – court proceedings continued

On the 21st of September more hearings of activists accused of violating public order took place in the court of justice in Hajnówka.

The accusation refers to the blockade in Czerlonka on the 8th June, when activists protested against breaking the law and illegal logging taking place in the Bialowieza Forest. Their protest allegedly outraged workers of the State Forests and members of the local community. The blockade, however, was meant to block the logging site so that scientists could assess the scope of logging and inform the EC and UNESCO about the situation in the Forest. Eventually, they were not allowed to enter and the whole area was dominated by forest guards. Read more about the blockade HERE.

In the court activists said that their actions aimed at protection of old-growth forest stands are something to be proud rather that accused of. They also explained that their conduct was necessary to prevent greater harm such as illegal and devastating timber extraction at the World Heritage site.

Next hearings are going to take place in about a month.

Logging and violence have to come to an end. More activists needed!

In our previous post we already wrote that after the Luxemburg hearing of Polish minister of enviroment – logging, violence towards activists and hurried selling of wood are continued just as before. For example, on the 12th and 13th of September the harvesters logged over 160-year-old spruces and some almost 200-year-old oaks in the section 228ba. Therefore, activists are still blocking the logging and the machines whenever possible. They will not give up and will remain in the Forest as long as it is necessary.

What cannot be agreed upon is not only the logging itself, but also the arrogance, aggression and violence of forest guards, supported by the police, towards the activists. During yesterday’s peaceful protest activists were pulled out of the site. The situation got very violent – one of the activists was thrown to the ground, another one chained to the tree with a metal wire. The guards were blocking the possibility of contacting the lawyers, they tried to stop the recording, and they refused to show their ID, which is obligatory.

One of the activists was taken to the hospital. The Forest Guards strangled him, put his face in the ground. The doctors stated the hematoma  on the head and cuts on the neck.

The situation is getting ridiculous. The minister in lying in Luxemburg, the guards are protecting illegal cutting, the activists are still here, with their human and citizens rights being broken. The peaceful protests are being violently pacified. Amongst so many problems in the world this one can get lost. But it cannot – Bialowieza Forest ois one of the most important nature areas in the world!!

Peaceful protests have to go on! We need more activists urgently, to support the case and show solidarity!

Please, watch the videos and do scroll down for the photos.


photos by Małgosia Klemens – thank you!

EC wants to punish Poland. Szyszko keeps logging anyway.

European Commission is about to impose penalty for the logging, whereas Szyszko keeps devastating the Forest and hurriedly sells harvested timber.

After Minister Szyszko was interrogated in Luxemburg, the European Commission has 4 days to justify their request to punish Poland. Poland has 4 days for a reply.

It might be assumed that after such significant conversations and while waiting for the decision to be announced, the State Forests would at least take a break in the devastation of the Bialowieza Forest. And yet, just a day later, the logging was being continued. On September 12. harvesters set off to cut down c. 160-year-old spruces and almost 200-year-old oaks in the square 338Ba. On this very day the machines left the Forest twice after the logging site had been blocked by activists. At night it was pouring with rain and the forest guards had to withdraw under the pressure of the activists.

On September 13. the works were continued again. It means violation of both Polish – Natura 2000 conservation plan, and international law – decision of the European Court of Justice and of UNESCO. While trees were being logged, trucks kept transporting timber from the Forest.

Harvesters were guarded by forest guards whose new squads had been delegated to the Forest this week. Also additional police forces from Białystok supported the guards.

Despite the bans and interrogations of the European Commission, destruction of the Forest in being continued. The Camp for the Forest keeps monitoring the situation and tries to stop the destructive works.


Over 160-yrs-old spruce

Wheel-ruts left by harvesters

200-yrs-old oak


You can also download video files from WeTransfer.

Just before the session in the European Court of Justice – more dangerous but efficient protests

The last days before the session in the European Court of Justice brought more dangerous but efficient protests.

We already informed you about the life threatening situation with the forwarder’s operator trying to run over a group of activists. (Read our previous post).

On September 6, about 50 activists from the Camp for the Forest and Greenpeace tried to block a harvester and a forwarder working to the north from the village of Teremiski, in an old-growth forest stand belonging to Białowieza District where timber harvesting limits were exceeded about a year ago. Machines managed to rush away to the parking lot, accompanied by the police and about 40 forest guards. In spite of the forest guards’ intervention, the protesters managed to take their positions in the vicinity of the parking lot. Initially, forest guards reacted in a very aggresive way, but later gave up any violence. A negotiator from the Ministry of Environment arrived at the site. Machines did not work on that day.

Watch the video:

September 7. Machines did not work. Foresters transported timber from the Forest in a hurry. They were accompanied by 50 forest guards and the police that tried to prevent any blockade of the transports.

Dangerous behaviour of a machine operator

After a few days with harvesters parked instead of working, the situation is back to what it had been.

Yesterday (5/9/2017), during a patrol, 4 activists came across a harvester and a forwarder in the old-growth forest in the Forest District of Bialowieza (one of the three districts, and the one where any logging is banned). The harvester left the place immediately, while the forwarder didn’t stop. It was heading directly into the activists ready to run over one of them but the activist jumped aside in the very last moment. The driver, when asked to stop, refused to do that. He warned he could call the police, whereas in fact he was the one about to harm other people. One of the activists jumped onto the back of the forwarder and rodeo began. Even a car of the Camp for the Forest did not stop the forwarder’s operator. He hit the car instead, damaging part of it. Finally, the police was called by the activists and wrote the damages down.

Such an openly violent and dangerous situation has never happened before.

On the 11th of September the European Court of Justice will announce their sentence concerning the Bialowieza Forest. The closer the day, the bigger the aggression and tension gets.

A few days of peace and quiet in the Forest

Thursday and Friday were days of relief, as harvesters and forwarders that had been devastating the Forest remained at their parking spaces. During these days Dzika Polska and Camp for the Forest activists supported Greenpeace Poland – a group that had been blocking a transport of timber since the blockade on Wednesday, Aug. 30. The result, the logs stayed in the Forest. Most probably, the break in the logging means that the State Forests reacted to the bigger numer of activists that are currently in the Forest. The numer does matter! Therefore, everybody who is not indifferent to the fate of the last natural forest of the European lowland is most welcome to come to the Camp for the Forest and to get involved.


The biggest blockade in the Forest

The last blockade (30.08.) was the biggest one in the history of the protests. About 60 activists took part – from the Camp for the Forest, Greenpeace, Dzika Polska. Polish activists were supported by people from Slovakia, Slovenia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Germany, Croatia, Finland, Turkey and Hungary. Apart from blocking the machines directly, 12 people climbed the trees and created a kind of a net, connecting themselves to machines from high up. Movements of the machines could make the climbers fall down. Thus, the blockade was more difficult to break.

The protesters wanted to save old-growth forest from Bialowieza Forest District from being cut down by harvesters. They also emphasized the fact that the logging in this very district had been banned by the European Court of Justice and demanded that this world heritage should be saved not sold. They also protested against removing the logs from the Forest. What is more, they wanted a public safety commission that would include various experts to be established. Finally, they opted for breaking the potentially dangerous trees in old-growth forest stands in a way that would imitate impact of natural forces and for leaving the fallen trees to decay.

Forest guards from all over the Forest were directed to the place of the blockade. A whole ‘army’ of them appeared at the site. Their behaviour, once again, was aggresive, disrespectful and posed threat to activists’ safety and health. In fact, 3 activists were even taken hospital in Hajnówka, having suffered some injuries from the guards.

At the same time, a big success, all remaining harvesters, working in different places of the Forest, stopped their work and left the clearings.

Activists remained at the site for the night. The temperture is quite low but they want to keep their eye on the logs, so that they remain in the Forest and are not illegally removed.

P.S. Any logging in Bialowieza Forest District had been banned by the EC and breaks nature conservation regulations. Moreover, the shockingly increased forest management plan has already been fulfilled there. Still, the logging goes on.