Białowieża Forest

Poland and Belarus

Daniel Rosengren

Białowieża: Cracking the stalemate and restoring Europe’s last remaining lowland primeval forest

Project achievements

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, significant achievements of this project included the cross-border assessment of potential restoration sites and the re-wetting of a pilot site at Zarkaushyna. This work should inform and enable the rewetting of forests, up to 20,000 ha of drained mires and formerly straightened riverbeds.

The feasibility studies and the hydrological vision will be used to develop a LIFE proposal that focuses on the Polish section of Bialowieza. It is not possible to currently implement the initiative due to the political situation on the border between the EU and Belarus.

Project Partners

Polish Society for Bird Protection (PTOP)
Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS)

Quick Facts

ELSP funding


Duration of grant

October 2019 - May 2022

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