The Scientific Consensus Against Logging

Similarly to the worldwide narrative amongst climate deniers, the Polish government like to portray the scientific community as lacking consensus on the recent expansion of logging in Białowieża Forest. Simply put, this does not face up to scrutiny. The scale of opposition to the logging has become overwhelming, and there is a consensus: logging in Białowieża Forest severely damages biodiveristy and disrupts the invaluable natural processes that have existed for 10,000 years, since the last ice-age.

Here follows a list of organisations and publications that have spoken out against the logging. At the end of the article I also briefly mention recent public opinion polling, which also roundly shows the Polish public as against the logging. This overwhelming negative opinion of the current approach to management is proof that the whole of Bialowieza Forest should be a national park.

If you know of me having missed out any important opinions from this list then feel free to leave a comment and I shall add it on.

A list of organisations

  1. The State Nature Protection Council. Constitutionally mandated, it used to comprise some of the leading scientists in the country, who voiced their negative opinion on the expansion of logging in Bialowieza Forest. Shortly after issuing this opinion most of them were fired from the committee – Link.
  2. The Nature Protection Comittee of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Also gave a negative opinion – Link.
  3. 157 Polish scientists wrote an open letter supportive of reduced logging within the forest and ensuring adequate protection of the forest’s biodiversity – Link. This letter was a direct response rebutting another open letter by 46 forestry and silivculture scientists supportive of the logging.
  4. 96 Polish scientists signed a letter requesting the Environment Ministry to refrain from excessive logging and to take the necessary actions to guarantee the protection of the entirety of Białowieża Primeval Forest Link. This letter was in fact partly a response to an absurd letter that the Environment Ministry sent out, requesting adressees to personally cover the costs of rebuilding habitats in areas where logging is not being carried out (many who signed this letter also signed the above one).
  5. 150 scientists meeting at the International Conference on Forests signed a letter negatively assessing the logging and stating that management strategy of using a large part of Białowieża Forest for wood extraction is, in our view, very detrimental to the unique biodiversity of the forest.’ Link.
  6. 14 Deans and 19 Vice-Deans of the Biology Faculties of Poland’s largest Universities wrote a letter encouraging the environment ministry to respect its legal nature protection legislations and to refrain from far reaching interventions in Bialowieza Primeval Forest and Poland’s largest rivers – Link.
  7. UNESCO basing their decision on the recommendations of independent experts, and despite intense lobbying by the Polish delegation attempting to water down the decision, strongly condemned the logging, urging Poland to immediately halt all logging and wood extraction in old-growth forests. UNESCO also warned that Bialowieza Forest could be added to the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger. – Link.
  8. The European Commission is currently suing the Polish government in the European Court of Justice as it regards the increased logging to be illegal under the EU’s nature directives, as it poses a major threat to the integrity of the Natura 2000 site – Link.
  9. The Councils of the Biology Faculties of Warsaw, Krakow, Silesia and Gdańsk Universities issued a negative opinion on the logging – Link & Link & Link.
  10. Leading scientists from Oxford, Harvard and various other Universities wrote a letter strongly disagreeing with the logging – Link.
  11. One of Europe’s leading scientists on bark beetle ecology confirmed in an interview that sanitary cuttings are unlikely to be successful in a forest with a mosaic of different management regimes, as is the case in Bialowieza Forest – Link.
  12. Employees and PhD students of the Biology Faculty of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan. An open letter voicing a negative opinion on the logging – Link.

A list of publications:

  • Why the Białowieża Forest needs dead spruces? Bobiec et al. (2016) – Link.
  • Please do not disturb ecosystems further. Lindenmayer et al. (2017) – Link.
  • Dispute over the future of the Białowieża Forest: myths and facts. A voice in the debate. Wesołowski et al. (2016) – Link.

Opinion polls:

There aren’t many of these, but the few I’ve found unequivocally show the Polish public to have a negative opinion on increased logging in Bialowieza Forest

  • A poll carried out for the conservative-liberal newspaper Rzeczpospolita showed that 60% of Poles were against the logging, 20% were for and 20% didn’t know – Link.
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