Extensive and ethereal, Białowieża (Beloveshskaya Pushcha) is one of Europe’s last great primary forests. The outstanding biodiversity value of this UNESCO World Heritage Site includes one-quarter of the world’s European bison among 59 mammal species plus an astonishing 12,000 invertebrate species. Following decades of exploitation and drainage in the Belarus part of the forest and recent controversial logging in Poland, however, Białowieża is under threat.
Building on experience from Belarus, the project will plan landscape-level restoration of the forest’s hydrology. It intends to adopt a transboundary approach to address the international stalemate over Poland’s intensive logging. The project envisages that returning groundwater to near-natural levels should enable the rewetting of forests, up to 20,000 ha of drained mires and formerly straightened riverbeds.