Białowieża Forest, Poland

This is one remaining part of the primeval forest that used to stretch across the European Plain. Logging limits have been largely expanded, threatening giant spruce trees, oaks and ash trees, and the European bison.


Bialowieza Forest is one of the remaining parts of the primeval forest that used to stretch across the European Plain. It is home to giant spruce trees, oaks and ash trees, and more than 20,000 animal species. The most famous of these is the European bison. The forest stretches over parts of Poland and Belarus, and is Poland's only natural UNESCO world heritage site. It is also a Natura 2000 area.

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Basic Data
NameBiałowieża Forest, Poland
ProvincePodlaskie Voivodeship
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biodiversity conservation conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Establishment of reserves/national parks
Logging and non timber extraction
Specific CommoditiesTimber
Live Animals
Ecosystem Services
Biological resources
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsIn the current Forest Management Plan (2012-2021), the European Commission and Poland agreed upon a logging limit of 63,471m³ within the Bialowieza forest district. This amount was reached almost four years after the plan's entry into force. In March 2016, Polish environment minister Jan Szyszko (PiS) approved an annex put forward by the State Forests Service that raised the logging limit to 188,000m³. The new limit is thus almost three times higher than the initial one.

It is expected that the new logging plan will raise c. 700m zlotys (€160m ).
Project Area (in hectares)12,593 (Białowieża Forest District)
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date17/01/2016
Relevant government actorsPaństwowe Gospodarstwo Leśne "Lasy Państwowe" (State Forests Service).

Ministerstwo Środowiska (Ministry of Environment).
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersGreenpeace Poland (

WWF Poland (

ClientEarth Poland (

Dzika Polska (

Greenmind Poland (

Ogólnopolskie Towarzystwo Ochrony Ptaków (OTOP)


Pracownia na rzecz Wszystkich Istot (

State Council for Nature Conservation Poland (
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Violations of human rights
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (undecided)
Under negotiation
Development of AlternativesThe proposal brought forward by all EJOs involved is to not raise the logging amount to a higher level than that agreed upon with the European Commission.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The project is in operation.
Sources and Materials

DIRECTIVE 2009/147/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 30 November 2009 on the conservation of wild birds.
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Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora.
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[1] Complaint to the European Commission concerning alleged breach of Union law
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Wikipedia: State Forests (Poland)
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"Last stand for Europe's remaining ancient forest as loggers prepare to move in" The Guardian (18 May 2016)
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Show your support: STOP destruction of the Białowieza Forest!
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Radio Poland
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The Guardian
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The Guardian. 7 April 2017. Polish law change unleashes 'massacre' of trees. (With a description of the Polish Environment Minister's thoughts).
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Media Links

Youtube clip
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Other Documents

Spruce Bark Beetle
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Protests in Warsaw
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Logged trees
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Protest in Krakow
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Meta Information
ContributorJoel Tillgren, Philipp Kuhn, Emma Brodén (Lund University).
Last update13/04/2017