NEWS ARCHIVE: January 2006

January 17, 2006 Website "Travel.ru" The Bialowieza National Park is going to celebrate an anniversary

The Bialowieza National park celebrates 85th anniversary this year, a Travel.Ru's reporter informed. 2006 will become the year of "open" in the park both for the people with their problems and the tourists. Competitions, festival of nature, master-classes and distribution of medals "Bison Friend" (the employees of the Bialowieza Park brought much to get success to avoid extinction of this kind of mammals) in the frame of celebratory program are planed in honour of the anniversary. Now the Polish part of Bialowieza Forest totals approximately 400 bison.

The Bialowieza National Park was founded on December 29, 1921, on the basis of the "Rezerwat" Forestry. In 1977 the Park was inscribed on a List of UNESCO Natural Heritage Sites. Now the total area of the Park, including Polish and Belarusian parts, makes 150,000 hectares, of which 62,500 hectares belong to Poland. The Park amounts almost 1,600 big trees, basically oaks, linden, ashes and maples, 15,000 species of animals, invertebrates make the most part of them, 3,000 species of mushrooms. Many of them are yet not investigated.
January 16, 2006 "Polish Radio SA" The Bialowieza National Park is eighty five

The oldest in Poland reserved area, Bialowieza National Park was eighty five last birthday. It was founded in January 1921.

Today the entire Bialowieza Forest's area makes 150,000 ha, of which 62,500 ha belongs to Poland, while 87,500 ha are on the Belarusian side. The Bialowieza National Park is famous not only due to untouched wood and unique vegetation, but also due to bison. At present 400 bison are inhabitants of the Polish part of Bialowieza Forest.
January 08, 2006 Website News Service A new Website about a campaign to protect the Bialowieza Forest in Poland

A new website "BISON - Bialowieza International Solidarity Network" appeared at the end of the last year in the Cyber space at the address http://bison.org.pl

The main webpage has the following introductory text (in English):

"Dear Friends,

Help us protect Europe's most important forest - the Bialowieza Primeval Forest. Located on the Polish/Belarusian borderland, Bialowieza is the last fragment of low-land, deciduous old-growth of its type in Europe and it urgently needs your attention. The forest is being fragmented daily through careless developments and an oversight of the forests' most important biological characteristics in favor of commercial logging and irresponsible tourist development. We have assembled a citizen's coalition named BISON (Bialowieza International Solidarity Network) to change the management policies on the Polish side of the forest. The name of our coalition (BISON) comes from the relict mammal that wanders freely between the forest's 500 year old oaks and towering spruce. No other low-land forest in Europe has the natural complexity and rare species composition of Bialowieza, which is why we are appealing to you for help at this moment. If we act decisively and quickly as a broad citizens group we can give the forest real and permanent protection.

In 1996 our citizen's group pressured the government to double the size of the Bialowieza National Park to 10502 ha, but this still only covers 15% of the total Polish side of the Bialowieza Forest. The remaining 85% is used for commercial forestry. Our actions to protect the forest have sparked a counter-campaign backed by a strong commercial forestry lobby that has distorted information and created a climate of fear in the local population. Unfortunately, the situation of real protection has only declined since then. For example, in 2003, several oaks of more than 100 years were cut along the Belarusian border under the pretext of border security. In the Gluszec nature reserve within the National Park, an adventure train ride is being planned that will draw hordes of tourists and noise to sensitive bird and mammal habitats. Roads have been opened in the forest for commercial traffic. A ban was lifted on cutting trees more than 100 years old, and massive ill-planned corporate tourist development threatens the quiet and sanctity of the forest's villages. Our campaign targets politicians at this impasse. We are asking the new President of Poland, Lech Kaczynski to personally intervene on our behalf. We want him to personally protect the whole Polish forest (initiate legislation) until a sensible plan can be worked out for an expanded national park. At the moment, we are gathering a show of support before we embark on a larger action.

Could you help in one of the following ways.

- Could you send an email, fax, personal letter or telephone to the Polish embassy in your country?

- Could you send a letter to the Polish government about the situation in the Bialowieza Forest. If you're part of an institution, could you send such a letter on behalf of your organization?

- Could you send this information to other people who might be able to help with this action.

- Could you personally visit a Polish embassy to discuss the matter, or could you organize a day of solidarity outside of the embassy on an appointed day in late February or March?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, we ask you for your email or mailing address. In January we will send you a letter of possible actions, a CD-film explaining what's happening in the Bialowieza Forest, the latest scientific articles about the situation, photographs and news of our local organizing actions targeting the Polish President.

Join us in our fight for the Bialowieza Forest!

Bialowieza International Solidarity Network
bialowieza@bison.org.pl
http://bison.org.pl
January 03, 2006 "Web-Newspaper BelaPAN" Some few thousands tourists daily visit an Estate of Grandfather Frost in Belovezhskaya Pushcha

BELTA Information Agency reports that some few thousands tourists visit an Estate of Grandfather Frost in Belovezhskaya Pushcha daily in holydays. The children who want to plunge into a surprising world of New Year's fairy tale are the most common and major participators since winter holidays. This is especially popular because major personages are available in the Grandfather Frost's Estate.

"One can touch a deer there which drives me in a sledge all the night and turns into a tree in the earlier morning", the Grandfather Frost tells. "One can peep in at a magic mill's window. It will grind all sins and will leave them for the last year. But the most important sight of the estate is a Christmas tree of over 40-meter high. The connoisseurs assert that it is the highest in Europe for today.

Almost all groups of the tourists have round dances with New Year's songs around the wood beauty. They demonstrate undisguised admiration by seeing numerous wooden sculptures which the muster from Zhitkovichi district Alexander Maslo made. Then the tourists visit bison, bears and wolves, which live nearby in special enclosures. "After visiting the Estate, the children send me thousand letters with words of gratitude, requests and wishes. I try necessarily to answer all of these", the Grandfather Frost noted.