GB No. 2(21)/96
28. Aug. - 1. Sept. the Congress of the Green Federation took place in Białowieża. Over 70 people from all over Poland participated in the meeting as well as guests from England, Slovenia and a representative of the American Peace Corps.
At the very beginning I would like to thank all the co-organisers and helpers, and first of all Rafał Kosno from GF Białystok, Andrzej Bobiec, Jerzy Gutowski, Marek Kryda and Karol Zub from the Society for Protection of the Białowieża Primeval Forest and Małgorzata Buszko from the Natural Education Centre of the Bałowieża national Park. I would not have managed without them - thank you very much.
|The evening workshop|
As to the organisation of the Congress, I admit there were shortcomings for which I apologise. Unfortunately, nobody is perfect, especially having such limited funds at one's disposal. This year less than 1000 PLN were spent on the organisation of the Congress. To compare, the last year's congress organised in the Ojców National Park cost about 3 000 PLN. Those who remember it certainly understand and appreciate what we had in Białowieża. To be honest, only the people interested in heated discussions on the reform of GF were not satisfied with the meeting. The others liked it and some were even enchanted. I believe that the dissatisfaction of the former was caused to some extent by the absence of Darek Szwed and Piotr Smyrak. I did not feel in a position to lead the discussion on the reforms in their place. Especially because there were other, more important, issues. I would also like to point that an organiser is not a herd leader. There is no hierarchy in the Green Federation so I do not feel guilty and I do not understand people accusing me of not having organised a general meeting. That people are incapable of gathering spontaneously and doing something together is really not my fault. And they would not feel like doing that under pressure. What the intergroup co-operation within the GF has been like for last few years is widely known - I believe that its assessment is rather clear. I am sorry for devoting so much space for the explanations, but I am forced to do it, facing the reproaches I heard during the Congress.
This year we offered a new form of the yearly Federation's meetings. The innovation lied in adding two days for discussing the problems of the place the Congress is organised in. Thus during the two first days you could watch an excellent film by Bożena and Janusz Walencik Tętno pierwotnej puszczy (The Pulse of the Primeval Forest) which beautifully presents the relations between various elements of the ecosystem as well as the biodiversity of the Białowieża Primeval Forest. You could also visit the last natural and wild patches of the forest in the strict reserve of BPF, with a guide, for free. You could learn about the past, present and expected future of BPF and various aspects of its existence, thanks to Prof. Czesław Okołow. Those interested in the uniqueness of the forest had an opportunity to listen to a presentation by Dr. Jerzy Gutowski, specially prepared for that occasion, about saproxylic insects and their role in the forest ecosystem.
However, the most popular events were (I am not surprised) visits in the forest and indirect contact with the living wild and often mysterious nature. Almost everybody wanted to see the few-hundred-year-old trees, great ravines, aurochs and the so-called spots of power. I led 5 groups of several people myself.
At the Congress you could also meet Ms. Jadwiga Łopata from ECEAT - Poland who spoke about ecological agriculture and agrotourism. On the last day we also received the deputy from Unia Wolności, Krzysztof Wolfram, Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission for Nature Protection, author of the program "The Green Lungs of Poland" and, as he spoke of himself, almost the host of the Primeval Forest - as he lives in that part of the country.
As you can see, there was a lot of events going on. As to issues related indirectly to the Federation: meetings of the network "Cities for Bikes" and of "politics", "transportation" and "wild life" groups were held. Also, Witek Ciołkiewicz talked about preparation of indirect actions; Jacek Polewski and Rafał Rafalski presented a rather interesting slide presentation on motorways and protests against them, with examples of actions undertaken by radical English activists. To be honest, I am glad that some Polish activists are interested in the problems, since we have tolerated arrogance of high officials for too long; discussing at the same time the necessity of professionalism and reforms within the ecological movement. Maybe soon the deeds will follow words. I can only wish us all a better congress next time.
reprinted from Zielone Brygady, Nov. '96
transl. M. Maciejewska