Will naturally valuable areas live to see protection in Poland? The first initiatives of the IOC

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On February 21 this year. The Ministry of Climate and Environment held a press conference on the protection of forests with special natural values. During the event, Deputy Minister Nikolai Dorozhala summarized the steps taken so far by the new government and announced further actions. The ministry aims to develop a multidisciplinary approach to the protection of valuable natural forest areas after years of neglecting these very important issues. What specifically does the Ministry promise?

A new team at the IOC

In an order dated February 7, 2024. The Minister of Climate and Environment has established a Team for Strengthening the Protection of Environmentally Valuable and Socially Important Forests. Its chairman was Deputy Minister Dorozhala, and in addition to ministry staff, it included representatives of the State Forests and independent experts in forestry, nature conservation and EU law. The task of the Team is to develop recommendations on how to protect areas of natural value and at the same time carry out forest management on them.

A similar team has been established within the structures of the Directorate General of State Forests (DGLP). According to Deputy Minister Dorozala, cooperation between the two units is going very well. It has even been possible to develop communication methods to improve the flow of information.

Reduce logging of Polish forests – we protect naturally valuable areas

Earlier, on January 8 this year, Climate and Environment Minister Paulina Hennig-Kloska announced the issuance of a decision to restrict and halt logging of forests of special natural value. The first task of the newly-established team at the Ministry of the Environment was to analyze notifications received from forest districts and forest service companies (ZUL) in connection with the implementation of the decision. Representatives of the timber industry and ZUL have been invited to participate in subsequent meetings of the team.

Deputy Minister Dorozhala warns that naturally valuable areas could be used in political manipulation ahead of the upcoming local elections. In his view, such activities should be abandoned, focusing instead on constructively reducing initiatives that harm nature.

Fortunately, the first effects of intensive cooperation for the benefit of Polish forests are already visible. After two weeks of meetings and consultations, it was possible to develop guidelines on the basis of the problems raised by the forest districts, which were then forwarded to DGLP. The Ministry has scheduled a nationwide discussion on forests, open to all interested parties, for the second half of March. Ultimately, the work will be distributed among task forces focusing on the natural, social and economic aspects of protecting valuable land.

Forests of special natural value in Poland

The halt in logging affected ten key areas identified by the IOC as needing urgent protection. Specifically, it is the Borecka Forest, Swietokrzyska Forest, Augustowska Forest, Knyszynska Forest, Karpacka Forest, Romnicka Forest, as well as the Bieszczady Mountains, the Tri-City Landscape Park and valuable natural forest areas around Wroclaw and Iwonicz-Zdrój. The reduction in logging affects a total of 20-30 percent. previously planned cuts and will include old-growth forest, water-protected forests and mountain areas. Maps showing where logging will be halted or restricted have been posted on the IOC website.

The aforementioned maps also illustrate projected reserves where it is important to preserve the current state of tree cover. The ministry’s decision to limit logging is further argued by the extent of Natura 2000 areas and the function of forest promotion complexes. Saved from the sawtooths and located around major metropolitan areas, the forests are also expected to help with water retention, preventing floods, which we can expect to see more and more of in this era of climate change. The Ministry of the Environment announces that in the near future it will launch a form on the website through which the public will be able to make suggestions on valuable natural areas worthy of protection.

Need to implement sustainable forest management

Deputy Minister Dorozhala noted at the conference that naturally valuable areas will be included in the program of activities related to the development of sustainable economy elements. In short, the idea is to reconcile the interests of different social groups and the environment. The protection of biodiversity and the use of the recreational and educational potential of forested areas must coexist with the important economic function that forests perform in Poland. According to the Polish Economic Chamber of the Timber Industry, the country’s forestry and timber sector generates as much as 2.5 percent of the country’s total forestry output. GDP and employs more than 350,000. Employees.

By inviting representatives of the timber industry to the talks, the ICC provides an opportunity to develop solutions for the long term. The future will show whether these ambitions can be realized.

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