GB No. 1(24)/97
Re: Text of Convention on the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats, Bern 19th of Sept. 1979 (published in Poland as enclosure to Journal of Law of the Republic of Poland - Dz. U. nr 58 pos. 263 of. 25.5.96)
12.7.95 Poland ratified, by signatures of President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Convention on the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats, Bern 19th of Sept. 1979 after notification by government of additional reservations to some of its items, which were published in the Journal of Law of the Republic of Poland - Dziennik Ustaw no 58/96 of 25.5.96, pos. 264.
I have bought this text of the Convention in the Polish Government Publishing House. It was published in Polish and English language versions. While comparing both versions I noticed that in the Polish text a whole part of Appendix IV, about prohibited means and methods of killing, capture and other forms of exploitation for freshwater fish has disappeared. Also, in my opinion, translation of this Appendix (the part for mammals) was not correct.
I have notified the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs about these discoveries in a letter on 8.11.96. A Copy of this letter was sent to the parliament chancellery.
An answer came from Ministry of Environmental Protection, in a letter of 7.3.97 with confirmation of my opinions, promise of corrections in published Polish text and official prohibition of fishing with electricity. Also, the undersigned person declared that the English text was valid.
In meantime, up to now:
The Polish version of this text was sent to some ministries, in August 97, but up to now, no effect, and even no government: the old is gone, the new has not come yet, because there were elections in September. Please forward this message to everybody you know. Please send your comments to the president of Poland:
fax +48-22-621-03-31 or e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for attention.
Barbara Głowacka, Poland, Gdańsk,
Kolumna'98 (and the planning leading up to it) should focus on what the role of the ecological movement in Poland should be. Poland is becoming a capitalist-dominated country as it moves towards membership in the European Union and NATO. Is it the role of the ecological movement to adjust to this transition from communism to capitalism? Most of the ecological funding from Poland and the West supports this view of the Polish ecological movement. Ecological activists compete for the very limited money available from these sources, to carry out projects consistent with the Polish government's and Western capitalist's goals for this transition process.
Kolumna'98 should continue the process of clarifying and resolving the fundamental ecological values within the ecological movement and to decide to what extent these values are consistent with the movement's present and proposed activities. Where there are inconsistencies, the activities should be modified accordingly, not the values.
Ecological values of the movement should be accepted through a democratic process at Kolumna'98. At the same time, more experienced and ecologically aware persons should take a leading role in clarifying the movement's values and educating others in these ecological values.
With unclear ecological values (or perhaps sometimes clear, but not clearly stated values), the ecological movement will continue to be relatively ineffective and incoherent, despite occasional successes here and there due to the hard work of a few highly dedicated individuals.
Society, like individuals, can make two kinds of mistakes. When these mistakes affect ecology, the ecological movement will have a role to play in correcting these mistakes. The first type of mistake is to do what should not be done. This includes polluting the land, air, water, food etc. by bad practices or policies. Most of the movement's activities center around trying to correct these type I mistakes of society or organizations within society. The second type of mistake is when a society does not do what should be done, such as introducing non-polluting energy generation and distribution alternatives such as solar and wind energy systems, becoming more energy efficient, and building new ecological communities (cities, towns and villages). The ecology movement has tended to neglect these Type II errors of society, or has limited itself to supporting "technological fixes" such as reducing smokestack pollution by technological devices - which are really only temporary solutions to Type I problems like air pollution.
Type I and Type II ecological errors occur in society due to a lack of ecological awareness, knowledge or capacity to do what should be done and therefore also to doing what should not be done. It follows that the ecology movement should focus on developing its own ecological awareness and knowledge and that of the society, as well as its capacity to stop both Type I and Type II errors of society.
Kolumna'98 should therefore clarify its fundamental ecological values and then direct its energies and activities to stopping society's Type I and II errors in light of these values.
It can therefore be clarified, for example, whether Polish entry into the European Union would be a Type I error (doing what should not be done) and the government's neglect of ecological farming development is a Type II error (not doing what should be done).
It is through this type of values clarification, analysis and creative planning (which can go on before and at Kolumna'98) that Poland's ecological movement will make real progress towards unifying itself and improving Poland's ecological situation, and not mainly serving the interests of large-scale economic interests that do not have Poland's best interests at heart.
34-146 Stryszów 159, Poland
Whether we like it or not, the protection of animals is heading towards political solutions, which means: initially voting in joint commissions and at the sitting of the Sejm of parliamentary clubs, which most frequently represent their parties. In the text by Wojtek Owczarz and Dariusz Paczkowski (ZB 7/96) the political aspect of animal protection was underestimated. However, the aspect is of great importance. What attitude will PSL and SLD adopt towards the regulations considering, among others; fattening of geese and ducks for fat livers, calves for white meat or fattening animals in cages?
What should be clearly stated is that so far, the PSL and SLD representatives in the parliamentary subcommittee voted for the elimination of the most important, in my opinion, regulations in the act.
To explain the political background of the issue it is worth mentioning that the parliamentary subcommittee that dealt with the bill was prepared and put forward by members of Unia Wolności. Only they defended the regulations. As I observed, the regulations are supported by the coalition "In Favor of Animal Rights" formed by the "Gaja" Club, the "Animals" Foundation and the Front of Animals' Liberation". Also, such a popular personality as Jurek Owsiak is interested in the issue.
At the meeting of joint parliamentary commissions that will discuss the report of the subcommittee, Unia Wolności will vote for restoring the "controversial regulations" in the bill which were rejected by the deputies from SLD and PSL.
The attitude of the latter is key to the fate of the bill. Therefore all the questions about the issue should be addressed there. In this case politics cannot be avoided, since voting in the Sejm is the final manifestation of political opinions.
The general statement that "the Sejm and the deputies have spoilt a bill" blurs the truth and may make a campaign hardly effective.
Help us, politicians, who presented the bill in the Sejm! Do it wisely, keeping in mind political reasons, though many of you despise the very word "politics" (while often practicing it successfully).
The Chairman of the Ecological Forum of Unia Wolności
transl. M. Maciejewska
Several weeks ago our office was visited by members of the Polish Green Party, the Council of the Housing Estate and some other ecological organizations of our town. They wanted us to investigate the decision allowing the creation of a refuse dump in Przemysl and propose some actions which could stop this investment.
The authorities of the town decided to locate the refuse dump in the district of Pikulice. The project divided the local community into two groups: one group is constituted of inhabitants, ecological organizations, holders of allotments and forest keepers, the other of local authorities. Defending its rights, the former sees the possible threat of the investment for inhabitants and the environment, connected with the location of the refuse dump close to water supply and deposits of natural gas.
After having investigated all submitted documents concerning the location of the refuse dump, we discovered several serious mistakes:
At the wish of our clients, we worked out a free, complex legal analysis, taking into consideration all infringements we noticed. Our opinion was attached to the complaint sent to The Supreme Administrative Court. As a result of the common action, SAC annuled the decision concerning the assignation in terms of building, development and local planning which led to the supression of the investment.
One of the most interesting matters we have recently worked on is the matter concerning the supression of the construction of a waste incinerator in Chojnów. Chojnów is a small town situated on an ecologically degradated area in the very heart of a copper-basin.
Local authorities of each parish were to work out separate schemes of utilizing waste. Most parishes have serious problems with finding the right place for dumping waste. The parish of Chojnów is no exception; therefore its self- governing authorities decided to build a waste incinerator. It was to be situated on a territory which, in the local plan of development, was assigned for one-family houses and small services. In practice, the center of Chojnów would be the area most contaminated by polluted air emitted by the incinerator. The inhabitants could not give their consent to it.
A group of local activists from the "Pro Natura" Society of Farmers participated in workshops devoted to the topic of solving ecological problems in a community, organized by our branch. Then they tried, in all possible and legal ways, to stop the construction of the incinerator. However, despite the fact that inhabitants have a legal right to express their opinion concerning future investments, the efforts were not successful. Also, a legal opinion prepared by our experts turned out to be of no use in this case. All appeals against the decision were rejected. They also lost in The Supreme Administrative Court. In the meantime the commune started the construction of the incinerator. In such a situation the only possible way to stop the investment was to organize a referendum in which the whole local community would express their opinions concerning the investment. According to Polish law, a local referendum can be held if at least 10 per cent of all inhabitants sign the petition to hold it. Another requirement states that a referendum is valid only when at least 30 per cent of inhabitants entitled to vote participate in it. In Polish reality, the second requirement is difficult to be fulfilled. Out of many referendums organized in our country, there were few in which the attendance exceeded 30 per cent.
Seventy five per cent of inhabitants took part in the Chojnów referendum and 98 per cent of them were against the localization of the incinerator on the territory of the commune. Therefore the results of the referendum were binding for local authorities, which were forced to give up this investment, so arduous for the environment. Chojnów is a good example of a place where the use of legal ways proved to be effective.
Biuro Informacji o Prawie Ekologicznym
Towarzystwo Naukowe Prawa Ochrony Środowiska
ul. Kuźnicza 46/47, 50-138 Wrocław, Poland
Recently in the main issue of the television news, information appeared about a new regulation being planned for requiring cyclists to wear helmets. First I imagined Cinek in a helmet, next I thought about a lobby of helmet producers and then I envisioned the fat and mustached faces of our policemen covered with worry (about our safety). At last I came to the conclusion that, facing the frequent cases of stubbing, armor and helmets should be made obligatory to wear all day, protecting against baseball bat attacks, with phosphorescents worn at night. I believe that our parliament will soon pass appropriate regulations. In a cartoon by Andrzej Mleczko from the epoch of the People's Republic, one man said to another: if only they once said whether this is for real or only for a joke. The system is new but the question, as you can see, still remains burning.
On the 31st of July a railroad container with a cargo of 80 barrels (200 kg each) filled with hazardous chemicals was stopped in Brześć and sent back to Małaszewicze. Belarus railwaymen decided to return the cargo, having discovered that the chemical substance was leaking. The container was transported to a reloading yard, where firemen from Biała Podlaska took a closer look at the barrels. They found that, out of five barrels with sulfuric acid, two were already empty and one was half-empty. The cargo was posted in Germany to an addressee in Russia.
In the Biała Podlaska weekly, the "Słowo Podlasia", no 32 of 6-12. Aug., p. 4, the following note appeared: "The firemen taking part in the action neutralized most of the small amount of the sulfuric acid that leaked on the area of our voivodship. The majority of the substance escaped from the barrels in Germany and in Poland. A special commission examining the level of environmental pollution did not report ecological hazard for the vicinity of the railway station and tracks and considered the leak minor".
The plague reached the borders of the Kalisz Voivodship. The Shell Corporation, a Dutch-British consortium, famous all over the world for its ubiquity, started to construct a petrol station in Ostrów Wielkopolski. Before construction workers appeared on the site, one could admire a big board with the inscription: "Caring for you and your environment, Shell Corporation will build here a modern petrol station. Shell - with us you are safer!"
I cannot understand whose safety is meant here, but let us talk about some details first. Thirty six, one hundred year old trees were cut down from the place where the Shell station is going to be constructed, among them; black poplars, maple-trees and whitehorns. In the justification of the decision which I received from The City Council it is said that: ... poplars (were) partially withered with signs of disease - withered trunks... some of the cut down trees were self - sown plants which should have been cut down a long time ago. They reached the sizes of trees only due to the lack of proper management... Hmmm. Self-sown plants of a diameter of 50 - 60 cm, lack of proper management - these are not the problems of municipal services. Besides this, the inhabitants of a house situated on the corner next to a constructed petrol station are to be moved because their house does not fit into the concept of the reconstructed cross - roads.
Anyway, the information above has not been checked. Much is said about bribes received by local notables, which is no surprise in case of Shell. No qualms whatsoever, only profits are important. The trees were cut down by workers employed by the firm constructing the petrol station and were accompanied by the employees of The City Department of Verdure (sic!). The inhabitants of neighbouring houses are worried about noise which will be unavoidable once the station is opened. A local lady, while commenting on the planned demolition of a house adjacent to hers, said: Let them demolish ours too, I do not want to live with such noise.
By way of consolation, the authorities of the town put Shell Corporation under the obligation to grow 100 trees. We may only hope that in the future those trees will not be cut down for the purpose of non-sustainable development.
Tomek Lisiecki, Kalisz
Torfy, in the community of Karczew, was a venue of an opening ceremony as the Base of Ecological Education and "Torfy" Museum of the Mazowiecki and Chojnowski Landscape Park.
The base is located deep in the forest, not far from the "Torfy" nature reserve. It may be reached by a sandy road, an extension and continuation of the Andriollego Street in Otwock near Warsaw. Its immediate neighbour is the seat of Torfy and Lasek forest districts.
The Mazowiecki and Chojnowski Landscape Park was given the right to use the "Torfy" forester's house in 1993, according to a decision taken by the Director General of National Forests. It was assigned for educational purposes. Last year the historical building, raised in the 1920's, underwent general renovation work. Financial support for that purpose was received from the Voivodship Office of Environmental Protection and all works were carried out by the personnel of the Park. Then the base was fully equipped and a museum exposition was prepared there thanks to a special grant from the National Fund of Environmental Protection.
From the end of April, the forester's house will organise special activities for children and school youth. Even though the base did not receive any particular publicity, all fixed dates until the end of August (which is the end of summer vacations in schools) have been booked well in advance.
- Effective ecological education may only be carried out in the field. Children must touch tree bark, listen to singing birds - underlines Dariusz Lewandowski, director of the Mazowiecki and Chojnowski Landscape Park. - The park includes 21 nature reserves and gives shelter to over 40 species of protected plants.
The base is a starting point for several educational tracks. A teacher guiding a group of pupils receives a plan showing the most interesting places. The forester's house becomes a centre for lessons accompanied by videos, discussions, slide shows and ecological computer games. Visitors may also admire the local museum, an environmental and ethnographic display including some precious gifts from the renown Earth Museum in Warsaw.
The base also organizes ambulant expositions in co-operation with schools. School lessons on forest tracks do not only cover such subjects like environment or biology, but also geography, history and Polish language.