Bialowieza Blockade Update
+++6 July 2017+++7th blockade ongoing+++8th blockade stopped due to police violence+++
+++For the most recent news, go to www.save-bialowieza.net +++
+++UPDATE 06 July 2017+++
The 8th blockade, parallel to the 7th one, had to be stopped after a few dramatic hours. The police arrived at the spot, also forest guards. They were agressive, used force, surrounded the activists and did not allow anybody to come closer. Media were not allowed either. People operating the harvesting machines didn't want to turn them off and acted in a way that posed risk to the activists. The situation was getting really violent. Finally, one of the activists was turned over to the police, cuffed and taken to Hajnowka, to police headquarters charged with agressive behaviour towards the police and for breach of their bodily integrity. Whereas, truth be told, it was the police who fell him on the ground when he was trying to pass some necessary things from his backpack to other activists. In Poland this kind of accussation is a heavy one and can mean prison.
Good news is that the 7th blockade, after some hard time in the morning with lots of forest guards and efforts to set the harvesters to work, could be continued throughout the whole day, and to our current knowledge, it is still going on.
+++UPDATE 21 June 2017+++
Today, an urgent call for action is reaching us from our friends in Poland: large scale state-sanctioned logging is destroying the Bialowieza forest, Europe's last primeval forest.
The most important habitat of European bisons, elks, wolves, three-toed woodpeckers, the pigmy owl and many other endangered species is threatened.
This devastation can be stopped and has to be stopped!
What can you do?
- Sign our petition to the Polish Minister of the Environment:
- Come to Bialowieza and join the protest camp. Our Polish friends need as many people as possible to build a critical mass.
- You can stay in the camp. Local housing and restaurants are also recommended in order to support the local community which is struggling becuase of government actions
- Spread the work and ask the local media to contact our friends in Poland
- Support the campaign with a donation.
the camp: firstname.lastname@example.org
shared transportation: fb.com/groups/183725275488768/
crowd funding campaign: pomagam.pl/dlapuszczy
+++UPDATE 18 June 2017+++
People from all over Poland arrived this weekend in Bialowieza to support the protection of the forest and participate in a series of events. The highlight was the March for the Forest during which over 750 people broke the forest access ban imposed by the State Forests to hide logging from the public. Evven heavy rain did not discourage the participants who showed their right to this piece of wilderness and their will to keep it wild.
+++UPDATE 17 June 2017+++
Cultural program for this weekend in Bialowieza
7:30am - Birdwatching walk with Michał Książek (register at email@example.com)
11am – „Walk for the Forest” with Adam Wajrak (start in Czerlonka village, before train tracks. Important: bring your ID card/Passport)
6pm – Film screening: “Przecież tu jest wszystko…” + discussion with the director Beata Hyży-Czołpińska and film main character. “Żubr” Movie theater in Białowiża Culture Center
8pm – Concert of Stanisław Soyka - Białowieża Open-Air Heritage Park (Polish: Skansen)
All day: Sunday in the Camp – catering and workshops
12:00 "Songs with environmental themes" – traditional singing workshop by Kasia Paterek, Camp for the Protection of the Forest (register at firstname.lastname@example.org)
15:30 "Mindfulness techniques and methods useful for activists in action – introduction” by Zenon Kruczyński, Camp for the Protection of the Forest
Meeting with local community
+++UPDATE 16 June 2017+++
Protests against logging in the Bialowieuza forest have scored an important success. On June 14, Bialaowieza Forest District announced reopening of a big part of its territory. Access to the forest had been banned on 1 April 2017 due to logging. However, the Hajnowka Forest District remains closed. A protest march against the closure of this part of the forest has been announced for Saturday 17 June, 11 am.
UPDATE 14 June 2017
Activists end 35-hour logging machinery blockade.
After 35 hours, activists from Greenpeace, Dzika Polska, Pracownia na Rzecz Wszystkich Istot and other supporters from Romania and Czech Republic finished the fourth blockade of heavy machines used for harvesting timber from the Bialowieza Forest. They managed to stop the devastation for two days and, as the coming weekend is a long one in Poland (due to a bank holiday), it means that there will be no logging for a few more days.
Harvesters were blocked for two days, which made it possible to stop the logging and save about a half thousand of trees in valuable parts of the forest. It is the longest blockade so far.
‘We are really grateful to our friends from the Czech Republic for their support,’ says Adam Bohdan from Dzika Polska.
The activists were blocking the equipment also at night. They were supported by local people who brought them warm food. Also the virtual presence of other supporters and spreading the news was very significant to the activists.
Now everybody is getting ready for tomorrow’s event – Weekend for the Forest that will be filled with trips into the wild, birdwatching, activities for kids and families, meetings, films and music.
Bialowieza Forest, June 13, 2017
Once again timber harvesting machines have been blocked by
Polish, Czech and Romanian activists who stood up to defend the forest together.
Activists from Greenpeace, Dzika Polska and a group of people from Romania and the Czech Republic blocked heavy tree felling machines that have been operating in valuable and old parts of the Bialowieza Forest. They spread out banners with slogans in Polish, English and Czech calling to stop the logging.
The logging in the forest is an appalling issue not only for people in Poland but also all over the world. That is why early in the morning in Hajnówka forest district, near Postołowo village, a group of Romanian and Czech protesters joined the Greenpeace and Dzika Polska activists. They wanted to show that the forest is utterly unique – it is the only European lowland forest on the UNESCO World Heritage list. As such, it deserves special protection and the whole of it should become a national park.
- Despite the police intervention during the blockade last Thursday, we do not give up. There are more and more people who stand up for the forest. Our demand is to stop the logging of the most valuable woodland in Poland. Once again we block the machines that make the forest disappear before our very eyes, said Katarzyna Jagiełło, Greenpeace Poland. It is scandolous that two weeks before the UNECO summit in Poland its host, which is the Ministry of Environment, permits mass devastation of the only nature UNESCO Heritage Site in Poland, she adds.
- Bialowieza Forest is the last lowland forest on the European continent – our common heritage. I just can’t believe that it is being destroyed. I have many friends in Poland and I have visited the forest many times. I was enchanted by its beauty. I’ve been actively taking part in narture protection actions in the Czech Republic, for example, in the blockade of tree felling in Szumawa National Park, where we were supported by many people from Poland. I’m happy I can show my gratitude now, supporting nature conservation in Poland. We were successful in Szumawa and the national park there is now visited by thousands of tourists each year. This in turn helps the local community suport themselves. We hope the same thing will become true for the Bialowieza Forest, said Jaromir Blaha, a Czech participant of the blockade.
- It’ s a shame that people from abroad have to defend the World Heritage Site from the Polish Minister of Environment, who finds profits from timber industry more important than preservation of natural forests and protection of natural processes, said Adam Bohdan from Dzika Polska Foundation.
Heavy timber harvesting machines have been felling trees in over century-old forest stands and in UNESCO protection zones, where the preservation of natural processes should be the priority. On the contrary, what is happening in the forest are works dealing with removal of dead spruce trees which, according to European Commission, should be left in the forest to ensure continuity of natural processes. Moreover, the works are conducted less than three weeks prior to the meeting with UNESCO Committee in Cracow, which will be hosted by the Ministry of Environment.
It is the fourth blockade of heavy tree felling machines in the forest conducted by Greenpeace and Dzika Polska activists. Two of the previous ones – on May 24 and 30 – ended up after the information about withdrawal of the machines had been confirmed. The third one – on June 8 – was terminated by police intervention.
Marianna Hoszowska, email@example.com
Adam Bohdan, Dzika Polska, firstname.lastname@example.org
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