232,344 of 300,000 signatures

To the defenders of Europe’s last ancient Forest

Open letter:

The Białowieża Forest is beyond valuable - it’s a priceless piece of living history. It is our shared heritage, ours to cherish and safeguard from human greed and folly.

Protectors of the Forest, you stand on the frontlines of the struggle for the defence of the Forest, its hundreds years old trees and the amazing riches of animal and plant life.

You stand in the name of all of us, and you don’t stand alone. You have our support, our solidarity and our gratitude. From across Europe, we are watching, and we stand with you in defence of the Forest.

Why is this important?

State-sanctioned logging is destroying the Białowieża Forest in eastern Poland, [1] Europe’s last primeval forest, our priceless shared heritage. Its trees are being cut to make plywood and pallets. The only thing standing between the trees and the harvesters is the power of people’s protest.

After taking power, the current Polish government approved intensive logging in protected parts of the Forest. The excuse is fighting an outbreak of bark beetle - an argument refuted by Polish and European scientists. [2] In reality, the wood is being sold for profit. Only since the beginning of this year more than 50,000 trees were cut down, many of them over a 100 years old. [3]

Recently, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) responded to the EU Commission’s legal complaint and ordered Poland to halt logging to prevent irreversible damage, before the Court issues its final judgement. But the Polish authorities have ignored all demands to save the Forest, voices of scientists and NGOs, protests, petitions, UNESCO’s demands [4] and even the ECJ’s order, making Poland the first ever EU country to defy a decision of the Court. [5]

Is there no power that can stop them?

On the ground, they’re called Defenders of the Forest. The people who stop harvesters, block the roads and disrupt the logging, sometimes with their own bodies. In doing so they save hundreds of trees from being lost. Now many face harassment, fines, court cases and physical violence. [6] To keep going, they need to know they’re not alone - and to stay safe, they need visibility.

And we can give them that by bringing international attention to their work, making sure they - and their opponents - know we are watching. We can strengthen them with a powerful message of solidarity from across Europe. And we can give them the urgently needed help by donating funds to keep the defense of the Forest strong throughout winter months.

We will bring each and every one of our names to the Protectors’ camp in the forest. Your name could be there too. By signing, you’re not just showing your solidarity - you’re becoming a defender of the Forest yourself.

References:

[1] 'My worst nightmares are coming true': last major primeval forest in Europe on 'brink of collapse': https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/23/worst-nightmare-europes-last-primeval-forest-brink-collapse-logging

[2] Polish scientists protest over plan to log in Białowieża Forest: https://www.nature.com/news/polish-scientists-protest-over-plan-to-log-in-bia%C5%82owie%C5%BCa-forest-1.19428

[3] 1000s protest logging in Poland's ancient forest: http://www.news24.com/Green/News/1000s-protest-logging-in-polands-ancient-forest-20170625, Ignoring scientists, Poland begins logging famous primeval forest: https://news.mongabay.com/2016/06/ignoring-scientists-poland-begins-logging-famous-primeval-forest/

[4] UNESCO urges Poland to stop logging ancient forest: https://www.euractiv.com/section/central-europe/news/unesco-urges-poland-to-stop-logging-ancient-forest/

[5] EU court orders Poland to stop logging in Białowieża forest: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/28/eu-court-orders-poland-to-stop-logging-in-bialowieza-forest

[6] Trees more than a hundred years old are being cut down. What you can do to save the Białowieża Forest? http://politicalcritique.org/cee/poland/2017/bialowieza-forest-unesco-logging-take-action/

In partnership with Obóz dla Puszczy - the Camp of the protectors of the Forest


In cooperation with FERN and BirdLife


Photo credit: M. Klemens.

Please can you chip in?

Do more: support our campaigning!

When we first launched this open letter of solidarity with the brave men and women in the Camp for Forest in September, we knew that they needed our support and our voices spreading the word far and wide, but also very concrete help: money.

So we called for donations, and the response of our community has been amazing. We raised an impressive 35,351 euros. We showed the power we have when so many of us chip in with small amounts, and together we put huge smiles on the faces of the activists defending the Forest from logging.

We have now closed the crowdfunding to support the Camp, but there is something very important you can still do. Please consider donating just a few euros each week to WeMove. It’s thanks to the small donations from members of our community that we have the resources, flexibility and courage to run important campaign like this one, scale up messages and megaphone the struggles of movements and grass-root groups all over Europe. Thank you for your support - you make this possible!

***

We are working on transferring the money we collected to the defenders of the Forest, and they have important plans to spend it:

  • with so many activists facing charges and court cases as a result of prosecution for their peaceful protests in defence of the precious Bialowieza Forest, the priority is on providing effective legal aid. The funds we collected will make a real change to the lives of people who risked everything to protect the Forest from destruction.
  • with winter approaching fast, and people in the Camp for Forest still working daily to monitor and collect evidence about illegal logging, as well as disrupting the work of massive harvesting machines, the Camp will use the donations to secure equipment and a warm place to live in the cold months.

Do more: become a defender of the Forest


You signed in defence of the Forest and the people who defend it from destruction, but that’s not all - you can become a true Forest Defender yourself.

Here's what more you can do to help defend the Forest from destructive logging on a mass-scale:

  • Spread the word - share this campaign with your friends, family, colleagues. The more people across Europe are aware of the dangers facing our most precious European Forest, the more international pressure there will be to ensure its protection and preservation. Click to pick how you want to share the message: Facebook, Twitter or email!

    To share this campaign, simply click on "Next step" at the bottom of this page.

  • You can start your own campaign on our YouMove platform, for example to target the politicians in your country with a petition, asking them to speak up in defence of Europe’s most precious Forest. This is where you can do it!

  • You can visit the Białowieża Forest yourself - it makes for a wonderful holiday destination! By staying at local guesthouses and eating at local restaurants, you are supporting the community affected by the conflict about logging in the Forest.

  • You can help out by donating in-kind, e.g. materials and food supplies - the activists in the Camp regularly update the list of things they need

  • If you want to get involved in another way, in person, you can learn more by getting in touch directly with the Camp for Forest, using their Facebook page or their email address.

Next step - spread the word

You have signed the message of support for the protection of the ancient Bialowieza Forest, and shown solidarity with its Defenders. Thank you!

If this is your first action with us, you might receive a thank you email asking you to confirm your email address. You need to click 'confirm' for your action to count.

Do you know anyone who would feel strongly about protecting the last primeval forest in Europe, and would like to support this campaign and the Forest's protectors with their voice? Share this on Facebook or Twitter, or send them an email asking to sign the message of support and solidarity. The more we are and the more international visibility we give to the Forest and the people on the frontline of the fight for its protection, the more chances we have to succeed in preserving its incredible riches for future generations.