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Excessive logging in Carpathian Forest, Poland


The Bieszczady, Sanok-Turka and Przemyśl Piedmont Forests located in the Subcarpathian Voivodeship, often called the Carpathian Forest, belong to the last poorly transformed, extensive forest complexes of south-eastern Poland, and due to their natural values they are the most valuable forest area of the country, right after the Białowieża Forest. Rare species were found there, incl. arboreal species of bryophytes (e.g. Dicranum viride), 18 species of lichens (e.g. Parmotrema stuppeum), or 24 species of beetles (e.g. Zawadzki's runner), depending on the presence of dead tree wood. It is also the most important habitat for many forest birds, including 14 species listed in Annex I of the Birds Directive. In this area nest, among others, half of the Polish population of the golden eagle, and one-third of the Ural Owl and the Three-toed Woodpecker. This area is also a mainstay and an important migration corridor of the 'big four predators of Poland' (brown bear, wolf, Eurasian lynx and wildcat) [1] [2].

Several factors influenced the outstanding natural values of the Carpathian Forest. This area differs from the western Carpathians in the presence of relatively rich soils, which translates into a significant share of deciduous forests. 

Before World War II, this area was extensively exploited, and as a result of the military and deportation operations of 1947 (the Operation Vistula), it was almost completely depopulated. During the times of the Polish People's Republic, a closed Recreation Center of the Office of the Council of Ministers was established there, with its seat in Arłamów (30,000 ha, with a fence of 120 km) as a hunting area for communist dignitaries. As these areas functioned for decades under low human pressure, their forest cover increased, mainly as a result of forest succession on former farmland [3].

In the 15 forest districts, with the best-preserved fragments of the Carpathian Forest, the only national park (Bieszczady NP established in 1973) cover only 29,200 ha, while 19 forest reserves cover 2,731.03 ha [4]. In addition, there are numerous landscape parks and Natura2000 sites. However, such forms of nature protection are highly insufficient. Therefore, in the 1990s, scientists proposed two new areas for strict protection. The first is a fragment of the Przemyśl Piedmont, located mainly in the Bircza Forest District, where the 'Turnicki National Park' has been planned with an area of ​​about 17,500-20,000 ha (check the map here [4], p. 78). The second area, which is a part of the Bieszczady Mountains, is adjacent to the Bieszczady National Park and is at the same time its buffer zone. It is proposed to enlarge this park by 40,918 ha (i.e. 73% of the entire buffer zone). This area will cover 96.8% of the Stuposiany Forest District, 81.1% of the Cisna Forest District, 43.1% of the Lutowiska Forest District and 5.5% of the Baligród Forest District (see the map here [2], p. 18). 

Unfortunately, since 2004, with the amendment to the Nature Conservation Act, the creation or expansion of national parks was virtually blocked all over Poland. At that time, the provision giving the right of veto to local governments in this matter came into force. Such a provision was used by commune authorities in the case of the above-mentioned proposals [5] [6]. They were not even convinced by the argument that the area planned for strict protection is practically uninhabited and doesn't include private property. There are reports of propaganda campaigns undertaken by employees of the State Forests and hunters in nearby towns. At convened rural meetings, false information is disseminated regarding the rigors resulting from the creation of the national park, for example, about the prohibition of entering and acquiring undergrowth. Half of the commune councils are foresters or their families. Sawmills use the wood they receive from the State Forests. What's more - people are convinced that if it is not possible to cut trees from the area of ​​the planned national park, they will run out of firewood. This is not true, because only 10% wood from the surrounding forests goes to them. 90 % go outside the region. In response to this situation, the Natural Heritage Foundation was established in 2008, with the goal of creating the Turnicki NP [7].

The situation of the Carpathian Forest worsened with the implementation of the new Forest Management Plans (for the period 2015-2024 for the Stuposiany Forest District, or for the period 2017-2026 for the Bircza Forest District) [8]. At that time, work on the construction of forest roads was increased, allowing entry of even the largest vehicles used to transport timber, and a very dense network of logging routes was created. This caused an increase in the intensity of the cuts. A type of felling is used there, which ensures the continuity of the cover but involves the elimination of the oldest trees. This entails a loss of the value of wildness. Cutting old stands also results in the disappearance of many species' sites. This mainly applies to rare saproxylic insects and cavities (birds or bats). Additionally, piles of wood waiting to be picked up become an ecological trap. Logging leads to the degradation of watercourses, affecting the presence of many protected species [9].

Already in 2015, 91 thousand signatures for the creation of the Turnicki National Park was collected as part of the SOS Carpathian campaign [10]. In turn, on July 17, 2018, on the wave of success of the Camp for the Białowieża Forest, the Wild Carpathians Initiative was established by people who came from different parts of Poland, including the Carpathian region [11]. It is a grassroots social movement organizing, inter alia, forest patrols, nature walks, educational meetings, which demands: the establishment of the Turnicki NP and a network of protected areas in the buffer zone of the Bieszczady NP, resignation from hunting in these areas and compensation for the costs of nature protection for local communities. In August 2020, an unusual protest was organized in the 'Las Bukowy pod Obnoga' nature reserve in the Stuposiany Forest District, which has been designed for 20 years. About 30 people, lying in hammocks stretched between the trees, blocked the forest work and the movement of machines [12]. On April 25, 2021, in the Bircza Forest District, they installed several protest platforms on the trees with tents effectively blocking the entry to several forest divisions, set up an information point for interested passers-by, and hung up a huge sign requesting the creation of the Turnicki NP [13].

The blockade of logging, started in April 2021, has been going on for over a year. In one of the interviews, an activist from the Wild Carpathians Initiative said, "spending my time on the blockade, I focused on building relationships with the local community. So I had many opportunities to see how the inhabitants of the Przemyśl foothills react to the activists from the blockade. And I never experienced any unpleasantness. With the addition: "Just don't tell anyone"" [23].

The protests met with violence, repression, and criminalization. On August 14, 2020, activists from the Wild Carpathians Initiative were identified during the blockade of the entrance to the building of the Stuposiany Forest District. We received prescriptive sentences fairly quickly in connection with the violation of the Code of Offenses for Disrupting Public Order. Some paid small fines - the trip to the court from the other end of Poland was too burdensome. The others filed objections and the trial began in the court in Ustrzyki Dolne. After many months, the activists were acquitted. The foresters appealed to a higher instance. On March 7, 2022, an appeal hearing was held in the District Court in Krosno. The higher instance upheld the judgment of the District Court [21]. On May 21, 2021, there was an attack on the Wild Carpathians Initiative tent camp. One of the masked attackers had a baseball bat. A female activist was injured and a car was destroyed (see picture in photo slide show). On July 29, 2021, activists blocked the entrance to the Bircza Forest District. The blockade was forcibly interrupted by the police. The forest inspectorate called the police, and after short talks, the policemen forcibly pushed the protesters away so that the employees could enter [22].

Activists are supported by people of culture and science from Poland. In January 2020, Olga Tokarczuk - a laureate of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature - appealed for the suspension of logging on a 30-hectare forest division at No. 219a, right next to the border with the Bieszczady NP [14]. In this place, it is worth adding that in the winter of 2021, as a continuation of the Nobel Prize winner's appeal, a grassroots movement for the protection of the Carpathian Forest called ’She-Wolfs Collective’ (members wear wolf-like masks on their heads) conducted a protest in this area [15]. On the other hand, in October 2020, over 230 scientists from the most important universities and institutes applied for ‘the cessation of harmful forest work in the most valuable forests of the Bieszczady Mountains and Przemyśl Piedmont’ [16].

In the context of global climate change, the Carpathian Forest is very important reservoir of organic carbon. This forest constitutes an extremely capacious water reservoir, which retains it after periods of rainfall and returns it to the local circulation. An important effect of the reduced water retention in the mountains will be deepening hydrological droughts in the basin of the Upper Vistula, resulting from the decreasing supply of mountain streams in dry periods. These functions are lost very quickly by logging [9].

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Excessive logging in Carpathian Forest, Poland
State or province:Subcarpathian Voivodeship
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Biodiversity conservation conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Logging and non timber extraction
Establishment of reserves/national parks
Specific commodities:Timber

Project Details and Actors

Project details

According to the Forest Management Plan [17], 852,414 m3 of wood, i.e. over 36,000 40-ton trucks [18], was planned for 2017-2026 to be cut and removed from the Bircza Forest District (27,634 ha of forest area). In order to obtain over 0.85 million m3, the so-called felling age for some tree species. These trees, thanks to protection, could reach the age of 300 years or more. Already in 2018, in the area of the planned Turnicki National Park, as much as 67,000 m3 have been cut.

According to another Forest Management Plan [19], 439,191 m3 of wood was planned to be cut and removed from the Stuposiany Forest District (9,444 ha of forest area) for the years 2015-2024!

Project area:no more than 60,918 ha (area of planned Turnicki National Park and enlargement of Bieszczady National Park)
Level of Investment for the conflictive projectunknown
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:unknown
Start of the conflict:17/07/2018
Company names or state enterprises:Państwowe Gospodarstwo Leśne Lasy Państwowe (National Forest Holding "State Forests") (State Forests) from Poland - forest manager
Relevant government actors:- Regionalna Dyrekcja Lasów Państwowych w Krośnie (Regional Directorate of State Forests in Krosno)
- Ministerstwo Klimatu i Środowiska (Ministry of Climate and Environment)
- Generalna Dyrekcja Ochrony Środowiska (General Directorate for Environmental Protection)
- Regionalna Dyrekcja Ochrony Środowiska w Rzeszowie (Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection in Rzeszów)
- Regionalna Dyrekcja Lasów Państwowych w Krośnie (Regional Directorate of State Forests in Krosno)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:- Fundacja Dziedzictwo Przyrodnicze (Natural Heritage Foundation)
- Inicjatywa Dzikie Karpaty (The Wild Carpathians Initiative)
- Kolektyw Wilczyce (She-Wolfs Collective)
- Społeczna Rada na rzecz Utworzenia Turnickiego Parku Narodowego
- Klub Przyrodników (Naturalists Club)
- Ogólnopolskie Towarzystwo Ochrony Ptaków (Polish Society for the Protection of Birds - OTOP)
- WWF Polska (WWF Poland)
- Pracownia na rzecz Wszystkich Istot (Workshop for All Beings)
- Fundacja Dzika Polska (Wild Poland Foundation)
- Committee of Environmental and Evolutionary Biology
- Państwowa Rada Ochrony Przyrody - PROP (State Council for Nature Conservation in Poland - PROP)
- Greenpeace Polska (Greenpeace Poland)
- Extinction Rebellion Polska (Extinction Rebellion Poland)
- Młodzieżowy Strajk Klimatyczny (Youth Climate Strike)

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
occupation of forest, dwelling on trees to prevent logging


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Global warming, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Other Environmental impactsdecrease in the level of water retention of the area
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Violations of human rights


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Violent targeting of activists
Proposal and development of alternatives:Most scientists [20] call for the following actions (sequentially):
- working out a compromise regarding the share of old declining trees and the volume of dead trees that should be left in forest areas identified as sites of rare and protected species,
- a moratorium on cutting cuts in proposed protected areas until they are created,
- the creation of a network of reserves securing the most valuable natural objects in the area of ​​the planned Turnicki National Park, under the name of the "Reliktowa Puszcza Karpacka" reserve (a total of 8,000 ha) and a dozen or so reserves - long designed but not created so far - in the buffer zone of the Bieszczady National Park (a total of 850 ha).

Ultimately, many academics and activists - including those from the Wild Carpathians Initiative - want the most comprehensive actions to protect the Carpathian Forest, i.e. the creation of the Turnicki National Park (most likely with an area of ​​17,500 ha) and the expansion of the Bieszczady National Park.

It should be emphasized that the protection of unique mountain forests is an expression of social expectations and is in line with the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030.

It is believed that the above-mentioned forms of protection of the Carpathian Forest will arise sooner or later. Nevertheless, it is important to keep it as in the least changed state until then.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:A few weeks / months after the end of blockades and occupation of buildings, logging returns. So far, the Turnicki National Park has not been established, the Bieszczady National Park has not been enlarged, the planned reserves in these areas have not been created, and no moratorium on deforestation has been introduced.

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[17] Approval by the Ministry of the Environment of the Forest Management Plan for the Bircza Forest District for 2017-2026

[19] Approval by the Ministry of the Environment of the Forest Management Plan for the Stuposiany Forest District for 2015-2024

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Boćkowski M., Bara I., Michalski R. (eds). (2018). Projektowany Turnicki Park Narodowy – stan walorów przyrodniczych w 35 lat od pierwszego projektu parku narodowego na Pogórzu Karpackim (The projected Turnicki National Park. The state of natural values in 35 years from the first design of the park), Fundacja Dziedzictwo Przyrodnicze, Nowosiółki Dydyńskie.

[2] Kramarz P., Pociask M., Michalski R. (eds). (2020). Charakterystyka przyrodnicza obszaru otuliny Bieszczadzkiego Parku Narodowego (Natural characteristics of the buffer zone of the Bieszczady National Park), Wydawnictwo PAPIRUS, Jarosław.

[3] Melke A., Przewoźny M. (2014). Potrzeba utworzenia Parku Narodowego Pogórza Karpackiego (The need to create the Carpathian Piedmont National Park) [In:] Ochrona Przyrody w Polsce wobec współczesnych wyzwań cywilizacyjnych, eds. Z. Marek, A. Nikiel, Komitet Ochrony Przyrody Polskiej Akademii Nauk, Kraków, pp. 101-113.

[4] Klub P. (2016). Potrzeba ochrony rezerwatowej Puszczy Karpackiej w 15 nadleśnictwach południowo-wschodniej Polski (The need for nature reserve protection of the Carpathian Forest in the 15 forest districts of southeastern Poland), Przegląd Przyrodniczy, XXVV, 4, pp. 65-81.

[9] Affek A.N., Gerlée A., Sosnowska A., Zachwatowicz M. (2019). Oszacowanie skali wpływu pozyskiwania drewna na wybrane elementy środowiska we wschodniej części polskich Karpat (Estimating the impact of logging on selected elements of the environment in the eastern part of the Polish Carpathians), Przegląd Geograficzny, 91(1), pp. 83-106.

[5] Kojzar K. (2019, August 8). Serce Karpat. Dlaczego od ponad 30 lat nie udało się stworzyć tam parku narodowego? (The heart of the Carpathians. Why has it not been possible to create a national park there for over 30 years?). Smog.lab

[6] Obsłuska E. (2019, February 13). Walka o Turnicki Park Narodowy (Fight for Turnicki National Park?).

[7] Społecznie Projektowany Turnicki Park Narodowy (no data). Poznaj historię Turnickiego Parku Narodowego (Read the story of Turnicki National Park).

[11] Bożka G. (2021, June). Potrzebujemy starych lasów i nowego leśnika. Rozmowa z Anną Siekierską i Anną Albin (We need old forests and a new forester. Interview with Anna Siekierska and Anna Albin). Miesięcznik Dzikie Życie.

[12] Jurszo R. (2020, August 15). Miał być rezerwat przyrody, ale Lasy Państwowe zarządziły wycinkę. Walka o Las Bukowy pod Obnogą (It was supposed to be a nature reserve, but the State Forests ordered logging. Fight for the Beech Forest near Obnogaawa).

[13] Jurszo R. (2021, June 24). Pokaz siły Lasów Państwowych. Ale protest w obronie Puszczy Karpackiej wciąż trwa (A demonstration of the strength of the State Forests. But the protest in defense of the Carpathian Forest continues).,177851,27245438,lasy-panstwowe-nie-spacyfikowaly-blokady-w-puszczy-karpackiej.html

[14] (2019, December 19). Protest przeciwko wycince w Puszczy Karpackiej. "Społeczeństwu potrzebny jest dziki las" (Protest against logging in the Carpathian Forest. "Society needs a wild forest").

[15] Kowalski R. (2021, February 25). Kolektyw „Wilczyce”. 54 dni w lesie ('She-wolfs' Collective. 54 days in the forest).

[16] Smoglab. (2020, October 8). 230 naukowców i naukowczyń apeluje o zatrzymanie wycinek w Bieszczadach (230 male and female scientists appeal to keep the logging in the Bieszczady Mountains).


[20] Nauka dla Przyrody (2021, March 31). Apel w sprawie Puszczy Karpackiej Komitetu Biologii Środowiskowej i Ewolucyjnej PAN (Appeal on the Carpathian Forest of the Committee of Environmental and Evolutionary Biology of the Polish Academy of Sciences)

[21] Post on the Facebook profile of the The Wild Carpathian Initiative (2022, April 29).

[22] Kulczycka A. (2021, July 29). Inicjatywa Dzikie Karpaty zablokowała wejście do Nadleśnictwa Bircza. Protest siłą przerwała policja (The Dzikie Karpaty initiative blocked the entrance to the Bircza Forest District. The protest was interrupted by force by the police). Wyborcza.Rzeszó,34962,27383394,inicjatywa-dzikie-karpaty-zablokowala-wejscie-do-nadlesnictwa.html


Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[8] Mikos A. The Carpathians – Polish failures in the endangered natural forests, Inicjatywa Dzikie Karpaty (Power Point Presentation)

[10] Environmental organizations WWF Poland and the Natural Heritage Foundation are running the SOS Karpaty campaign, which aims to save the Polish part of the Carpathians and encourage the signing of an appeal in this matter.

The electronic petition with a request for favorable consideration by the Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection in Rzeszów of the application submitted by the Nature Foundation for the creation of the "Reliktowa Puszcza Karpacka" reserve

The online campaign of the Wild Carpathians Initiative in connection with the commencement of logging of a naturally valuable part of the Carpathian Forest, planned for 2020, at the border with the Bieszczady National Park. 12.5 thousand persons submitting an electronic signature demand that "separation 219a" be protected against logging, including the immediate exclusion of this fragment of the forest from use.

The online campaign of the Wild Carpathians Initiative with an appeal to the Council of Ministers to establish the Turnicki National Park and to immediately stop logging and hunting in the entire area of the planned park, and to secure its most valuable fragments by creating the "Relict Carpathian Forest" nature reserve (nearly 10,000 signatures).

VIDEO. Skidder, heavy skidding equipment, drives straight into the information tent of the Wild Carpathians Initiative and the people protecting it during the blockade of logging in the planned Turnicki National Park (April 26, 2021)

Meta information

Contributor:Maciej Kałaska, [email protected] Faculty of Geography and Regional Studies, University of Warsaw
Last update26/07/2022
Conflict ID:5528



'Fir of shame'

As part of the happening, a fragment of fir with monumental dimensions (3m in circumference) recently cut in the Carpathian Forest was brought to the seat of the Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection in Krosno / Photo: M. Klemens

Banner with the words 'The threat is man - not nature - not for the Turnicki National Park'

Inhabitants of mountain villages are afraid that they will lose their jobs after the creation of the Turnicki National Park / Photo: Wild Carpathians Initiative

Carpathian Forest

This forest is characterized by high densities and landscape connectivity, and a large part of it is close to natural / Photo: Wild Carpathians Initiative

Banner with the words 'Eco terrorists away. We want to live and work in peace '

Most of the local community lives off forest management and treats environmental activists as enemies / Photo: Wild Carpathians Initiative

Skid trails reducing the retention capacity of the Carpathian Forest

Skid trails, including recently built paved roads with drainage ditches, drastically accelerate the runoff of water from mountain slopes, preventing its retention in the soil. The result of this accelerated runoff is rapid flooding in the valleys of mountain streams and the lower parts of the catchment area, increasing the risk of flooding in riverside localities / Photo: Wild Carpathians Initiative

'Bears' from Bieszczady Mountains take matters into their paws

People dressed as bears fight for one of the last safe places for this animal to live in Poland / Photo: Wild Carpathians Initiative

Hammock protest

In August 2020, parallel to the blockade of the headquarters of the Stuposiany Forest District, a hammock protest was conducted at the site of the planned logging / Photo: Wild Carpathians Initiative

'Destruction of Wildlife' Monument in Warsaw

A cut tree with monumental dimensions - a symbol of the destruction of the Carpathian Forest - in the Youth Climate Strike camp in front of the Palace of Culture and Science in the center of Warsaw (September 2019) / Photo: Wild Carpathians Initiative

National protest

On September 29, 2020, a protest was swept across Poland under the slogan "We will not give the Bieszczady back to saws." 17 Polish cities, 17 seats of the State Forests, where letters with postulates were sent and hundreds of people who came to express their indignation at the destruction of the Carpathian Forest / Photo: Wild Carpathians Initiative

National protest

On September 29, 2020, in all places of the protest, those gathered brought symbolic postcards from the Bieszczady Mountains, showing the scale of damage caused by forest management in this area. The signatures collected on them are to be sent to the new Minister of the Environment as a commitment to take action on the Carpathian Forest / Photo: Wild Carpathians Initiative


In August 2020, the entrance to the headquarters Stuposiany Forest District was blocked, where activists from the Wild Carpathians Initiative fastened themselves to the barriers with metal pipes / Photo: Wild Carpathians Initiative

Tent camp

A several-month-long strike of the Wild Carpathians Initiative at the site of intensive deforestation in the planned Turnicki National Park (since 25 April, 2021) / Photo: Wild Carpathians Initiative


Platforms suspended between trees, under which it is impossible to drive without breaking the rope at the site of the planned logging in the area of the planned Turnicki National Park / Photo: Wild Carpathians Initiative

Attack on activists

On May 21, 2021, there was an attack on the Wild Carpathians Initiative tent camp where the activists were blocking the felling of trees in the planned Turnicki National Park. One of the masked attackers had a baseball bat. A female activist was injured and a car was destroyed / Photo: Wild Carpathians Initiative