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Europe's Last Primeval Forest - Białowieża National Park Project

Białowieża National Park, Poland

The project examines the diverse meanings which the forest has for the various actors. We will lead interviews with politicians, activists, and citizens and display the results in an exhibition to gain more attention for this dangered natural space.

L. Worsch from Ostblick Berlin-Brandenburg e.V. | 
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About this project

The Białowieża Forest is located at the eastern border of Poland to Belarus and includes both Polish and Belarusian territory. Since 1923, a part of the polish forest is protected as a national park. On the Belarusian side, most of the primeval forest is fully protected. The Bialowieza Forest is still of biological scientific interest, not at least because of its multitude of (endangered) animal and plant species. 

Moreover, as one of Europe‘s last remaining primeval forests, it is a symbol of transnational environmental protection, to which the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) are also committed to.

Today, economical and political interests are tugging at the primeval forest. The confrontation of the Polish government with the European Union (EU) in 2017/2018 on the precipitation in Białowieża Forest put the Polish National Park in the public and media spotlight. 

The project "Europe's last primeval forest - the Białowieża Forest as contested natural space" aims to examine the various meanings that the Białowieża Forest has for various interest groups and how they relate to each other. The project will include interviews with various actors: politicians on the Polish, Belarusian and European side ought to be heard as well as academics, entrepreneurs, conservationists or people dependent on the primeval forest by their employment, such as foresters. The tourist development of the region in Poland as well as in Belarus will also be subject of investigations.

To carry out the project, the group will undertake excursions to Warsaw, Minsk and 
Białowieża National Park, on the Polish and the Belarusian side. The interviews and other impressions are recorded both tonally and visually. 

The higher goal of the project is to draw attention to a natural space that is still in acute danger from the Polish government, and which is barely known to the European public. It is questionable whether the EU will be able to permanently assume the role of protector. The examination of historical and cultural backgrounds and meanings of the Białowieża Forest can strongly contribute to its protection.

The aim of the project will be to present the results in an exhibition in Berlin. Photos, video recordings and interview excerpts of the individual actors should complement each other interactively. A permanent record of the results on a website is planned, as well as the publishment of newspaper articles on the current developments in the forest.
Updated at 18. March 2020