Europe and Central Asia

BirdLife Europe & Central Asia Press Reaction - 13 July 2017

Heart of Oak: Commission takes clear stance on destruction of Bialowieza


Taking a stand for legality, the environment and its citizens, the European Commission has today referred Poland to the European Court of Justice, calling for the immediate suspension of the logging in Białowieża Forest. This victory comes after nearly a decade of calls from civil society, both in Poland and internationally, to save Europe’s best preserved forest ecosystem and last deciduous, old-growth forest from the state-sponsored vandalism of the executioner’s chainsaw.

In March 2016, the new Polish Ministry of the Environment accepted an amendment to the Forest Management Plan (FMP) for Białowieża Forest District approving a threefold increase of timber extraction. Intensive wood extraction has since seen majestic century-old trees brought down at one fell swoop.

Ariel Brunner, Senior Head of Policy, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia:The tragedy of Białowieża is more than just the devastation of nature, it is the spine-chilling destruction of memory and an affront to democracy and legality. In taking a clear and strong stance on the ecological destruction of Białowieża, the European Commission has today shown its ‘heart of oak’.

BirdLife and our Polish partner OTOP is glad to see the Commission standing up to stop European heritage from being lost forever. While the court examines the legality of activities, we urge the Commission to be even bolder in protecting the forest from irrevocable destruction. This is only the fourth time in the 25 years of the Natura 2000 network that the Commission has asked for these type of measures in defense of a protected site. Despite legal protection, mass destruction of sties is also happening in many EU countries such as Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece and Italy.


For more information, please contact:

Ariel Brunner, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia

+32 2 238 50 92


Wouter Langhout, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia
+32 2 541 07 80



Article: ‘Paradise Lost: The devastation of Białowieża’ 


Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe.