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Last stands

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Science  08 Dec 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6368, pp. 1240-1243
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6368.1240

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  • RE: Last stands
    • Agnieszka Ewa Latawiec, academic professor, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro
    • Other Contributors:
      • Bernardo BN Strassburg, academic professor, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro
      • Maciej Kuboń, academic professor, University of Agriculture, Kraków, Poland

    After years of heated verbal and physical battles between the forestry sector and environmental activists as discussed by Stokstad (1), cutting of old-growth stands in Europe's oldest forest has recently been suspended. Given breaching of the two European directives on wildlife and nature conservation - Bird and Habitats Directives - the European Court of Justice threatened to impose on Poland a fine of 100,000 Euros per day if cutting continued (2) and soon after Polish government balked.
    Another recent development on Polish political arena also gives a speck of hope for Bialowieża. Closely linked with the pro-cutting State Forests, the controversial Minister of Environment, Jan Szyszko, was dismissed in the beginning of 2018 and replaced by a more moderate politician, Henryk Kowalczyk. The new minister, similarly to Jan Szyszko, is a hunter who took part in hunting events organized by the Polish Hunting Association, sponsored by the State Forests, which by some observers may undermine objective decisions on Bialowieża.
    There is a renewed hope for the future of Bialowieża given the position of the Court and the new minister who may be in a good position to build a constructive dialogue with all stakeholders. Although this hope may be fragile, it creates a momentum to bring all actors to the table in the search for the most optimal solution for this World Heritage side.

    1. E. Stokstad, Science 358(6368), 1240-43, (2017).
    2. Decision of the Eu...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.