Lonely Planet Writer

Bid to save ancient trees in primeval Polish forest

Protesters marched in Warsaw, Poland on Sunday to demand protection of the Bialowieza Forest as the new Polish government plans to increase the volume of tree cutting there, in what is considered the last primeval forest on the European plain.

Protesters march to demand full protection of the Bialowieza Forest, in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016. The new Polish government plans to increase the volume of tree cutting in the Bialowieza forest, which is considered the last primeval forest on the European plain.
Protesters march to demand full protection of the Bialowieza Forest, in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday. The new Polish government plans to increase the volume of tree cutting in the Bialowieza forest, which is considered the last primeval forest on the European plain. Image by AP Photo/Alik Keplicz

The Bialowieza National Park is Poland’s oldest, and is part of a bigger area called the Bialowieza Forest, which straddles the border with Belarus. The park is recognized by Unesco as both a biosphere reserve and a world heritage site.

Białowieża National Park, Poland.
Białowieża National Park, Poland. Image by Frank Vassen / CC BY 2.0

Hundreds of activists protested plans to cut down many trees that are suffering from spruce bark beetle, which the government fears could destroy the trees and spread, according to Euronews. However, the protesters say the forest will regenerate itself.

The park is known for being the home to an original swatch of lowland forest, known as the primeval forest in Polish. While there has been human interaction in the park, much of it has been undisturbed for centuries leaving the forest with a mix of old- and new-growth, rare to Europe.

Protesters march to demand full protection of the Bialowieza Forest, in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016. The new Polish government plans to increase the volume of tree cutting in the Bialowieza forest, which is considered the last primeval forest on the European plain.
Protesters march to demand full protection of the Bialowieza Forest, in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday. The new Polish government plans to increase the volume of tree cutting in the Bialowieza forest, which is considered the last primeval forest on the European plain. Image by AP Photo/Alik Keplicz

The park has a section of strictly-protected old growth, where people can only travel with a guide.