Three months of protests in the Forest and another blockade

Three months of protest in the Bialowieza Forest

Yesterday three months passed since the first blockade of heavy machines cutting down the Bialowieza Forest. The logging has not come to an end – neither have the blockades.

Yesterday a harvester and a forwarder were blocked for about two hours near Świnoroje, in Browsk Forest District. Later on, the machines did not work there anymore. It is a success, bearing in mind that c. 70 armed forest guards from all over Poland had been sent to the Forest to fight with the activists, and they are additionally supported by a few police cars from Bialystok. The guards behave in an aggressive way, often abuse their power, e.g. using sexist language and behaviour towards women activists, applying hate speech and, most of all, physical aggression. Additionally, many guards do not want to present their documents.

Absurd behaviour of forest guards and violation of citizen rights are increasing. During the three months the situation has changed completely. Our protests remain peaceful, however, on the part of the State Forests there is no peace-making and no will for a dialogue. We are slandered, bullied, and constantly offended,’ says Joanna Pawluśkiewicz, an activist from the Camp for the Forest.

The Ombudsman has already addressed the Police Commissioner of Hajnówka District twice, reminding him that the freedom of assembly should be guaranteed.

’During the last three months illegal logging of natural forest stands in the Bialowieza Forest were blocked about twenty times. Sometimes the blockades were held in a few places at the same time. Some protests lasted for four days. Altogether, over 500 people from all over the world were involved in the protests,’ sums up Jakub Rok.

According to many, the Forest has become a battle field. Especially the Czechs offered huge support to Polish activists. Many activists have or will stand trial.

In first protests mostly activists from Greenpeace Poland and Wild Poland (Dzika Polska) took part.

’I didn’t expect that the group defending the Forest on the spot would become so numerous and so diverse. The grassroots civil movement ”Camp for the Forest” gathers together people from all walks of life – from biologists and artists to local inhabitants. The actions slowed down the logging and helped draw attention of world public opinion to the issue of Bialowieza Forest’s devastation,’ explains Adam Bohdan from Wild Poland.

The Camp has been visited by world’s major news agencies, lots of guests from all over the globe, tourists and activists. Films, TV reports, articles have been created about the Camp and its goal. The Camp has become an important information and protest centre, taking active part in the monitoring of the range and the scope of the logging. The works of the group are going to be continued until the illegal and devastating overexploitation of the Bialowieza Forest comes to an end.


Below a film and some photos from yesterday’s blockade.


Polish response to European Court of Justice

Last Monday Polish vice Prime Minister from PiS (the right-wing party in rule) expressed his opinion that the Bialowieza Forest should remain untouched and serve as a nature sanctuary. It sounded maybe not promising but hopeful, as it was the first public voice of a significant politician from the right side that was against the current logging.

However, the reply to the European Court of Justice that was sent on 4. Aug and treated by the Ministry of Environment as confidential, became known thanks to an anonymous source of one of the Polish news websites. And this answer, just like the illegal logging despite the EC’s decisions, is unprecedented.

The EC’s argument about the irreparable damage done to the Forest finds this response: „These are only hypotheses, drawn from some scientific studies, but anyway these are only assumptions, impossible to prove.” So, according to the document, the Court’s decision about temporary measures (i.e. halt to logging) is not justified.

The document also says that in sight of scientific opinions the activities carried out by Polish government to fight the bark beetle outbreak are not only in line with the European law, but even necessary for this law to be obeyed. However, these scientific opinions are not quoted or refered to in the document. (It should be kep in mind that: 1. Grand majority of most distinguished scientists is against the logging. Many articles, petitions to Polish government have been written concerning the destructive consequences of logging. 2. The logging is not to fight the bark beetle. Even the foresters deny it. The trees are debarked in the forest and the bark beetle remains where is has been.)

It is also stated in the document that without logging the condition of the Forest may be shaken and pose threat to human health and life. Even if there were more opinions against the sanitary cuttings than for, according to the reply, it is their quality and not number that matters. (And the quality is set by the Ministry of Environment and measured by the level of similarity to Minister Szyszko’s standpoint.)

The document also contains complaints about the arguments of the Ministry of Environment being dismissed by the EC and, thus, about the mirror of reality being distorted.

Finally, authors of the document estimate the damage that will result if the ‘helpful’ forest management actions are disrupted. The total sum is 3.24 billion PLN. In fact, the cost is based on the value of a cubic metre of timber that might be harvested from the Forest. At the same time the Ministry requests this sum from the EC as a compensation for losses.

The interrogation concerning the issue of logging is going to take place on September 11.

Provocations and a demonstration of power by the State Forests and their supporters

On Sunday (Aug. 20th) a march of foresters from all over Poland took place in Bialowieza.

After provocations from last week, this event is a demonstration of power.

So, first about the provocations. On the blockade of trucks a man with a mobile appeared at the site and started filming one of the activists from close up. Despite being asked not to do that, he wouldn’t stop. At some point, he dropped his mobile which was caught by the husband of the previously filmed activist. The husband put the phone back into the man’s pocket and said something to him in an irritated manner. It turned out that the man with the mobile was a priest, working for the State Forests (padre of the foresters). After a few hours he came back with his arm in plaster. Also the police arrived and arrested the husband for attacking the priest. Soon, right-wing media around Poland rumoured about the ‘bad’ activists that attack Polish priests.

Then, two days later, a special police squad with dogs came to the Camp for the Forest early in the morning and started searching the camp. Media were not allowed. The situation was not clear. Later however, it became known that the police were looking for drugs or other illegal substances, as they had received 11 anonymous tips. Of course, the camp was clear as no stimulants are allowed on its premises.

And on Sunday – the march of foresters.  A big one because 10 foresters from each forest district in Poland were delegated to Bialowieza for today’s march. The event was held to help the victims of hurricanes of Pomerania region (north-west PL) and Bory Tucholskie (central PL) from previous week and to show solidarity with minister Szyszko’s policy for the Bialowieza Forest. As far as help is concerned, uniformed forces from all over the country try to help the victims directly on the spot. Only the foresters travel to a completely different and remote region just to walk down the streets of Bialowieza. Besides, delegating a huge group of workers also involves huge costs that might be used for the victims instead.

Moreover, it does not seem ethical to combine into one the fate of the victims of a natural disaster with the illegal proceedings of the Ministry of Environment. After the ban of the EU Court of Justice, after the UNESCO decisions, against Natura 2000 regulations etc. a march is taking place in Bialowieza, in the already divided community, and the idea of logging is further promoted. What is overlooked, however, is the fact that the surplus number of forest guards from other regions ovesees harvesters instead of offering help where it is really needed, and that those who organize the solidarity march call ecologists names like ‘green devils’, ‘eco-nazis’ and ‘satanists.’

The march is another of the series of ‘spontaneous’ events by Polish foresters, who obey their bosses, even though they do not always share their opinions but don’t want to lose their stable, well-paid jobs.

Trucks with timber blocked in the Forest

On the 16th of August another blockade of trucks carrying out logs from the Forest took place on one of the forest roads. Two trucks were transporting logs from Bialowieza Forest District – European Commission and the European Court of Justice banned logging and removing timber from this forest district. The timber was extracted in the III UNESCO zone, where no logging is allowed.

The timber was bought by a TRAK-DREW company from the south of Poland. The company buys even 10,000 m3 from the Forest per year. It has the FCS certificate and therefore should not be buying wood from the Bialowieza Forest. Bialowieza Forest districts do not have this certificate. What is more, the company supports local right-wing movement.

Shortly after the blockade, foresters tried to block journalists filming the illegal logging.

As the result of the action the whole transport of timber was unloaded and the logs were returned to the Forest. It is a small but significant success.



(Inter)national march for the Bialowieza Forest

On Sunday, August 13., a big march for the Bialowieza Forest took place near Pogorzelce (vicinity of Bialowieza).

Despite the rainy weather, the event gathered together about 800 people who met to demonstrate their disagreement with the World Heritage being cut down to the ground and changed into planks and plywood.

Local inhabitants also wanted to emphasize that their business and family income is often based on tourist industry, which suffers greatly from the logging. People from all over Poland wanted to say that Bialowieza Forest is part of their national identity, their national pride and distance does not mean anything – the Forest belongs to all of us and we have to speak for it, to defend it. People from abroad pointed out that this is heritage of humanity in general, and logging is a barbaric act, carried out with no understaning of nature and no respect for future generations.

Thank you everybody for being there and showing your support!

(photos Gazeta Wyborcza)

List of companies buying timber from the Forest

A list of companies buying timber from the Bialowieza Forest was published by, an independent information website. Jurnalists of had already addressed the State Forests before, asking for the list. However, their request had been turned down on the excuse of this information being confidential. The only information they obtained were the towns where logs were transported.

So, the journalists asked readers for help in finding out who the buyers were. Much to their surprise, the reply came immediately. This time, the list included only the names of companies, without their address. Putting the two lists together resulted in one FULL LIST OF TIMBER BUYERS with names and addresses.

You can also follow the link for an interactive MAP with the companies marked on it.

The timber is transported across Poland and used mostly for plywood and pallets. Some of the companies declare on their websites that they have Forest Stewardship Council certificate or that they use only certified timber. The FSC certificate stands for wood that is harvested legally without damage to precious natural values. Yet, Bialowieza Forest districts lost this certificate in 2010 and do not have it anymore. What is more, the logging is illegal and banned by the EU Court of Justice.


Solidarity action in Berlin

On the 11th of August a solidarity action with the Bialowieza Forest was organised in Berlin by Robin Wood, a German ecological and social organization. Participants protested against illegal logging and heartbreaking destruction of the last primeval lowland forest in Europe that is being held against all regulations and voices of scientists from all over the globe.

Follow this link for German press release and more photos.

Thank you for being with us, dear German friends. Thanks for spreading the news and the idea of help.

Come to the Forest on 13th of August! Help us defend World Heritage!

As logging has been carried out without any break, despite all decisions and against European law, we need to take action! We have to show our support for protection of the last primeval lowland forest on European Continent. We have to spread our message and spread it wide and loud. That is why, if you have no other plans and can come for the weekend of 11 – 13. of August, do come to Białowieża!

There will be many events organized. Please, watch the video below for more info.

There will be concerts, discussions and, last but absolutely not least – march for the Forest. We will walk to a logging site and show how law is violated and that we cannot agree with it.

We have to speak in the name of nature that cannot speak for itself in its own defence. Be with us!

We also enclose a list of some guest houses that support the idea of protection. Maybe you will choose to support them.

Galeria Kresy, Pogorzelce

Rousseau’s manor, Świnoroje (German )

East Side Story, Pasieki (German)

Circus Wagons, Pasieki (German)

Czar Puszczy, Białowieża

Wiśniowy Sad, Białowieża

Noclegi w Białowieży, Białowieża

Dom na Wschodzie, Siemianówka

Domki w Białowieży – Białowieża, accommodation website

Dwór na Otulinie, Białowieża, +48 500 295 359, +48 507 666 557

Pod Szumiącą Topolą, Białowieża, Południowa 19A Białowieża

Pod Skansenem, Białowieża

Unikat, Białowieża

Stoczek, Białowieża

PL Outback, Białowieża, Graniczna 13, +48  723 135 666

Domek Jaskółka, Białowieża, Zastawa 58, +48  607 207 575

Kwiatowa Zagroda, Białowieża, Olgi Gabiec 1, +48 85 681 23 16, +48 600 120 131

Pokoje u Ireny, Bialowieża, Olgi Gabiec 21, +48 85 681 24 13

Bajeczny Domek,  Białowieża, Waszkiewicza 90, +48 85 681 22 27


Commentary on the response of the Ministry of Environment to the European Court of Justice

On the 4th of August, which was the deadline given by the European Court of Justice, the Ministry of Environment presented their standpoint about the Białowieża Forest. Despite the Court’s decision that logging should be stopped immediately, the Ministry says they will continue their works in the Forest. They keep repeating that they are protecting forest habitats and valuable species, ensuring public safety, preventing great loss of money and all these in line with Polish and European law.

Please, read the commentary to the Ministry’s response.

1. The Ministry of Environment emphasizes that their action in Białowieża Forest is in line with the Birds and Habitat Directive and even necessary for nature protection.

Recent actions of the Ministry mean logging of natural, frequently over 100-year-old forest stands conducted at an incredibly quick pace and with very invasive machines – harvesters. These forest stands are replaced by plantations, which undoubtedly contributes to destruction of habitats and species protected by the directives. Therefore, such actions violate the directives. According to Natura 2000 conservation management plans, which regulate forest management in Bialowieza Forest, removal and shortage of dead wood poses major threat to crucial habitats and species connected with old-growth forests. Because of that 100-year-old forest stands should not be cut down. The mass logging taking place in the Forest is exactly a contradiction of Natura 2000 nature conservation regulations. This fact is confirmed by protection plans according to which the condition of habitats in the Białowieża National Park (where no timber extraction is allowed) is correct, while outside the National Park this condition is often insufficient or even bad due to timber extraction. What can also be observed in the Forest is the diminishing numer of spruces in deciduous and mixed forest stands, which is absolutely in line with Natura 2000.

2. The Ministry is of an opinion that European Commission did not show in a sufficient way the probability of serious and irreparable damages due to interventions at the protected areas of the Forest.

Extend of the damage caused to the Forest ecosystem is huge. Hundreds of hectares of the Forest have been cut down to the ground by harvesters, at least 1/3 in over 100-year-old forest stands. In Browsk Forest District already until mid-July the amount of harvested timber reached the numer that according to the management plan was set for the whole year. Białowieża Forest District over last four years has exceeded the logging limits planned for 10 years in the forest management plan. Enormous clearings can be seen in in satellite photos taken at regular time intervals. Moreover, logging has been carried out during birds’ breeding and nesting season, and timber is sold along with protected beetles, which facts are disregarded by foresters. Commission took all these data into consideration. Certainly, the damages described can, in a way, be reversed and the forest stands can be rebuilt, however, the wounds inflicted to the Forest will take hundreds of years to heal, and the eventual result will still be a forest ecosystem whose ecological continuity was violently disrupted. Some sensitive organisms that occur only in the Forest will not survive this change.

3. In the conclusion of the written statement it is pointed at the fact that giving up the temporary means, which is logging, will cause environmental damage of estimated 3.24 billion PLN.

It is not certain what kind of damage the Minister has in mind when the best condition of forest stands can be observed in places free from logging. Most probably he means the trees that, when dying, become habitats for (no longer present in other forests) birds, fungi, insects and that can be sold for sawmills for much money. This is the kind of damage the Minister has frequently talked about in the Catholic media connected with priest Tadeusz Rydzyk (an influencial priest strongly connected with PiS, the party in rule.)

4. On Monday the Ministry proclaimed that they were not going to give up logging in the Forest.

It defies logic why the goverment lets Minister Szyszko do that. Apart from legal and financial consequences, we are witnessing an unprecedented reputational failure of our country. During last weeks media all over the world released hundreds of footages and articles on Minister’s behaviour. Many most important information agencies from abroad are planning a visit to the Forest. And things are going to happen for sure, as also foreign activists are coming that will go on with the blockades.

5. On Thursday the Ministry of Environment emphasized that only works ensuring public safety are conducted in the Forest and, as such, they are in line with EU Court of Justice decisions.

This is not true. The logging is of typically commercial character:

– trees are cut down even over 100 metres fromthe road, while the height of the highest trees in the forest rarely exceeds 50 metres;

– felled trees are cut and carried out from the forest on the so called forwarder;

– websites selling timber offer thousands of cubic metres of timber from the Forest.

Cutting down and selling of trees is not necessary to ensure public safety along trails and roads. In the  forest district of Bialowieza – where restrictions on logging have been breached and also on territories of high natural importance [hundred year old trees, protected habitats] trees which are at risk of breaking or falling should be cut down and left in place to decompose naturally. This is exactly the procedure in the Białowieża National Park and in nature reserves, which are manager by foresters.


Commented by Adam Bohdan – biologist, author of many scientific papers and reports on Białowieża Forest species that have been used for protection plans of the Forest. In recent years he has been monitoring the scope of logging in the Forest. He presented the monitoring results i.a. to European Commission.

Forest road blocked for trucks with spruces

Today in the morning a road was blocked for trucks that carry out spruces from the forest. The trees on the trucks are about 120 and 130 years old. Protesters want to bring attention to illegal logging taking place in the Forest despite UNESCO decisions, Natura 2000 directives and the European Court of Justice ban.

State Forest keep repeating that the reason behind the logging is struggle with the bark beetle outbreak and people’s safety. However, scientists and activists point to the fact that the trees carried out from the Forest are with no bark, so they are either free from the bark beetle and therefore no case for further infestation,or have been debarked in the forest with bark beetles left behind. Moreover, the logging takes place all over the Forest, usually far away from any roads.

All in all, the logging is being conducted for purely commercial reasons.

(photo: Pracownia na Rzecz Wszystkich Istot)