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Publication in “Science” by scientists from the Białowieża Geobotanical Station University of Warsaw

A letter by prof. Bogdan Jaroszewicz and dr. Katarzyna Nowak from the Białowieża Geobotanical Station University of Warsaw and dr hab. Michał Żmihorski, prof. at Mammal Research Institute Polish Academy of Sciences Białowieża, has been published in the journal “Science”.

The authors in the letter entitled “Poland’s border wall threatens ancient forest” call for the development of such a method of securing the state border that will minimize the negative impact on biodiversity and ensure the integrity of this unique ecosystem.

Globally, more than 32,000 kilometers of barriers have been built at borders of over 70 countries, to stop human migration. Governments focus on securing their borders, often forgetting the impacts of such installations on nature and biodiversity. Studies of the effects of fencing policies are scarce, but evidence very high effectiveness of border fences in blocking wildlife migration and much lower effectiveness in preventing human passage. In many places, borders run through areas of high natural value. In response to recent migration crisis Polish government is planning to built a 5 m high impenetrable barrier on the Polish-Belarusian border, which crosses among others the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Białowieża Forest”.

We call on the European and international communities to respect ecosystem integrity and health when planning responses to human migration crises and appeal to authorities in Poland and Belarus to consider the shared heritage and outstanding universal value of the primeval Bialowieza Forest. Better policy is urgently needed that takes the value of nature into account.