August 5, 2010

Deforestation Threatens Europeean Forest

Deforestation in Eastern Europe's Puszcza Bialowieska is threatening the area's flora and fauna, warned Polish environmentalists on Wednesday.

The group has taken their complaints to the European Union, insisting that logging is limiting the habitat of certain rare birds, the AFP news agency reported.

The 345,000-acre Bialowieza forest is an ancient woodland that straddles the Polish-Belarussian border, and is one of the last and largest remnants of the vast primeval forest that once spanned the European Plain after the last Ice Age, which ended a hundred centuries ago.  

"The current way of harvesting wood from the Bialowieza forest completely contradicts European Union requirements, particularly with regard to its Bird and Habitats directives," the Polish PAP news agency quoted activist Krzysztof Okrasinski as saying.

However, a Polish forestry official said there was no commercial logging in Bialowieza, and that only diseased or infested trees were being cut down.

"Any lumber we get is from trees felled for ecological and protective reasons," the AFP quoted Anna Malinowska, a spokeswoman for Poland's state forestry board, as saying.

Without this selective logging, infestations had spread on the Belarussian side of the woodland, she added.

Some 800 European bison now freely live within the Bialowieza forest, about 400 of which live on the Polish side. The area is also home to lynx and certain rare bird species.

Image Courtesy Wikipedia