European bison in Poland’s Bialowieza forest. Photograph: Lukasz Mazurek/Copyright WildPoland.com/Lukasz Mazurek
Poland has started logging in the ancient Białowieża forest, which includes some of Europe’s last primeval woodland, despite fierce protests from environmental groups battling to save the World Heritage site.
“The operation began today,” national forest director Konrad Tomaszewski said of the plan to harvest wood from non-protected areas of one of the last vestiges of the immense forest that once stretched across Europe.
He said the goals were to stop forest degradation by combating what the environment ministry says is a spruce bark beetle infestation, and protect tourists and rangers from harm by cutting down trees that risk falling on trails.