GB No. 8, summer 1992


In mid 1992, under the dictate of the World Bank, the Forestry Department of the Polish Ministry for Environmental Protection, Natural Resources and Forestry prepared "A PROGRAMME FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF FORESTRY". According to Wojciech Roszewski's materials, which I'm making use of in this article (along with the document itself and the opinion of the Polish Forest Society) the programme was withheld by the department. All the greater is the scandal and threat. The Workshop for all Beings (a Polish NGO - transl.) is presenting here short excerpts of the materials, which they have in their possession, in the hope that the environmental movement in Poland and abroad does not remain indifferent...

Firstly however, two reflections: Included in the Programme's objectives, we read: "The programme takes into account the protection of genetic resources in Polish forests and the intensification of protective measures in national parks" - and this fits in perfectly with our idyllic image of aid for the Białowieski primeval forest. Unfortunately, the 4,5 mln US $ (GEF grant for preserving biodiversity in the Białowieża forest and Sudeten Mountains - transl.) is a pittance compared to the 127,2 mln US $ credit from the IBRD (International Bank of Reconstruction and Development I don't know what this credit is for - transl.), which can turn Poland into timber colony...

Confidentiality, silence, delicate and complex affairs - all these are tactics and terms used to withhold information, something, which is not acceptable in the environmental field.

And now some quotes (taken from Roszewski's papers - transl.): "The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Forestry... cooperating with experts from the World Bank has prepared a forestry development programme for the period 1993-97... members of the World Bank mission have assessed the programme very positively and it has become the main basis for granting 100 mln US $ worth of credit... The Polish Society of Forestry claims decidedly that... the project... in being geared towards intensifying timber production, is not environmental development but a dangerous programme of exploitation. (Furthermore, the excessive felling of older trees outside the sustainable capacity of the forest, will lower production reserves and at the same time cause ultimate extermination) ...The implementation of the programme would cause the devastation of resources dictated solely by economic circumstances... This would be to ignore the true state of these forests, causing not only the impoverishment of their resources and hence their productive capacity, but also a deterioration in their structure... The acceptance of an increase in the exploitation of the forest, as proposed by the programme, an increase which substantially exceeds forestry management plans, seems to be a condition of receiving the credit... The specialists who have prepared this project did not put their names to it... The programme, falsely? negotiated with the World Bank mission with Polish approval, seems to have been prepared not so much through the use of rational arguments as under the influence of the deceptive flash of many millions of dollars worth of credit. The gaining of credit carried most weight in the arguments, silencing the critics. For the authors of the programme, it became the sole objective... I phoned the director, Jan Smaordowski. I found out from him that the programme itself cannot be made accessible until its final version has been negotiated with the World Bank in November 1992. As a consolation, I did find out that the Dept of Forestry in the Environment Ministry prepared this opportune thesis..."

So much for the quotes from Wojciech Roszewski, and now for some quotes from the programme itself:

"Polish forests... should be rejuvenated... the younger trees being healthier than the old. The rejuvenation of the forest will take place by lowering the age at which trees are felled..."

"Polish forests are... excessively dense... This calls for an intensification of feeling for curative purposes, so that instead of a current production of 8 mln m3, the timber harvest should increase to 11,5 mln m3".

The intensification of timber harvesting to produce over 24 mln m3/year will cause:

The programme foresees an increase in the amount of timber exported, which is expected to total 2.600 thousand m3 in 1977 (the main markets being in Sweden, Austria and Finland). There are also proposals for commercializing hunting to increase the number of people undertaking this sport from the current 100 thousand (in the chapter surprisingly entitled: MANAGING WILDLIFE)

In view of the lack of Polish specialists the project for the intensification of forest use "will be designated to a foreign consulting firm, at a cost of 2 mln US $". This is just one sentence taken from the negative position prepared by the Polish Forest Society (PTL). PTL after familiarizing itself with the draft of the "Forestry Development Programme" concludes in its position paper that it "unanimously rejects the whole project".

Janusz Korbel
trans. Iza Kruszewska

Informator SEE PNRWI
- wydanie specjalne sierpień'92

GB No. 8, summer 1992 | Contents