Opinion of the Association for Landscape Protection from Hajnowka regarding the state border pass in Bialowieza

The Association for Landscape Protection (ALP) decided to raise protest against the plans to open a frontier pass in Bialowieza. They share their point of view to all who are concerned with the protection of Bialowieza Forest. Although the pass will be open only for "pedestrians and cyclists" motorized traffic in the centre of Bialowieza Forest will increase because the pass is situated at a distance of existing facilities. Moreover, it will be necessary to make a car parking near the pass and so the anthropogenic impact on the surrounding forest will increase as well. Inevitably some rubbish and other negative phenomena will show up near the frontier pass. Tourists should obtain a visa in Bialystok which would generate more traffic in the forest on the road from Hajnowka to Bialowieza.

ALP considers that basic infrastructure built at the Polish side of the border when the pass is opened will lead dangerous concentrations of tourists to the heart of the Forest. It will increase car traffic on surrounding roads which lead into Bialowieza Forest. At the same time, the Belarusian side is closed for anyone, including Belarusians, since a wide zone along the border exists. The ALP considers that current number of cars on the road from Hajnowka to Bialowieza does already bring too strong negative effects to the environment at present, while this impact will be stronger when the tourist border pass is opened. This is because more people will wish to see "Grandfather Frost" on the Belarusian side (an attraction for unskilled mass tourism which should not be the purpose to visit the core zone of Bialowieza Forest).

ALP considers that tourism, including international tourism, should be developed in the vicinity of Bialowieza Forest, while its core should be a zone of silence and a site of environmentally professional tourism. International passes in the northern and southern parts, instead of the heart of the forest, would contribute to the development of the areas around the Forest and historical sites as well as it would be a reasonable for families which are divided by the border. If a pass would be situated in Polowcy or in Czeremcha it would be possible to easily reach for the tourist service centre in Kamenyuki in the Belarusian part. Actually a pass for pedestrians and cyclists can be created on these sites without the need to construct any additional infrastructure. However, the political conditions should allow for free movement of tourists through the forest on designated routes on both sides of the forest. In this way an increase of traffic in the centre of the Forest will be avoided.

ALP calls everyone who concern to protect the natural values of the Bialowieza Forest to develop tourism on reasonable conditions, which means to aim for setting up zones and to resist against opening a tourist pass in the heart of the forest near the village of Bialowieza. A border pass in this place can provoke an effect similar to one seen in the Tatra mountains where the construction of a funicular railway to Kasprowy Wierch has resulted in masses of people trampling down the Tatras.

The Association for Landscape Protection
April 10, 2005, Hajnowka, Poland