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Scientists warn that the Polish border wall will lead to environmental disaster

Scientists warn that the Polish border wall will lead to environmental disaster

The border between Poland & Belarus is a land full of forests, rolling hills and river valleys. This once peaceful land has become a militarized area. Concerned about an influx of mostly Middle Eastern migrants from Belarus, Poland has begun construction of a wall along its eastern border.

Conservation groups and human rights groups have condemned the move. According to the Polish Border Guard (despite laws that the wall seems to violate), the wall will reach 16 feet (16 meters) along Poland’s eastern frontier. It is expected to cut through fragile ecosystems, including Biaowiea forest, the continent’s last old-growth lowland woodland. 

If the wall is completed in the next few months, it will block migration routes for many animal types, including wolves, lynx and red deer. It would also help to recover brown bear populations and protect the largest European bison population. Katarzyna NowakA researcher at the Biaowiea Geobotanical station, part of University of Warsaw. This could have broad-ranging effects, as the Polish-Belarus border is an important corridor for wildlife movement between Eastern Europe, Eurasia, and Eastern Europe. Many animal species depend on these connected populations for their genetic health.

There are many border fences rising all over the world, with the U.S. – Mexico wall being the most famous. It is a tragic irony that these walls are not able to stop all wildlife movement. However, they can delay or reroute human migration. They don’t address the root causes of migration. Migrants are known to find ways to get around walls by climbing over, under, and through them.

Yet, governments continue to ignore laws that protect the environment due to the fear of migrants crossing border. John Linnell, a biologist at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research.

Construction of the Polish border wall will result in heavy traffic, noise and light in the pristine borderland forest. The work could also include logging or road building.

I find this a disaster. Bogdan JaroszewiczDirector of the Biaowiea Geobotanical station.

Inciting a crisis 

The humanitarian crisis at Belarus’ border began in summer 2021 when thousands of migrants arrived from Belarus. Often with promises from the Belarusian governmentassistance in reaching other destinations within Europe. Many were denied legal entry upon arrival in Belarus. Thousands have attempted to cross into Poland and Latvia. Many migrants have been forced to return to Belarus by Polish authorities after being intercepted by Polish authorities. At least 12 migrants died from hypothermia, malnourishment or other causes.

Conflict between Belarusia and the EU flared after Alexander Lukashenko won the August 2020 presidential election. Despite claims to the contrary, election results were falsified. Massive protests and crackdowns were followed by Multiple rounds of EU sanctions. Poland and other governments have accused Belarus fomenting the current crisis at the borderAs a punishment for the sanctions.

The Polish government responded by declaring a state of emergency on September 2nd. This is still in effect. Many Polish border towns close to the Belarusian frontier are only accessible to citizens. Travel is restricted to journalists, aid workers, tourists, journalists, and anyone who doesn’t live or work in the area.

It has made it difficult to live in this historic, multiethnic border area. Inns and hotels have gone out-of-business. Soldiers approached researchers trying to work in the forest at gunpoint, demanding to know their activities. Micha mihorskiAn ecologist who directs Mammal Research Institute, which is part of the Polish Academy of Sciences and is based in Biaowiea.

The Polish government has already constructed a razor wire fence about seven feet high along the border of Poland through the Biaowiea forest and other border areas. Reports indicate that the fence has already entrapped, and killed, bison and even moose. The new wall will begin at the border of Poland and Belarus, bordering Lithuania, and continue south to the Bug River, whose banks are already fenced with razor wire.

Mihorski states that many animals have already suffered from the negative effects of the wall. The forest would be cut in half if there were more wall construction.

Some scientists circulate information about an Open letter to the European CommissionTo stop the walls being built, the EU executive branch will try to stop them.

Primeval forest 

Since the 1400s, a large portion of the Biaowiea Forest is protected. The area also contains the last large amount of virgin lowland forest that once covered Europe from Europe’s Ural Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. Nowak claims that it is the crown jewel in Europe.

Eunice Blavascunas is an anthropologist who explained that oaks, ash and linden trees are hundreds of years old and tower over dense, unmanaged forests where trees fall and rot unscathed. A book was written about the region. The forest is hometo a wide range of fungi as well as invertebrates. There are more than 16,000 species among the two groups, plus 59 mammalian species and 250 bird species.

The Polish side of the forest is home to around 700 European bison, who can be seen grazing in low valleys. There are also wolves and red deer, as well as otters and red deer. An endangered population of around a dozen lynx is also found. These animals usually move back and forth across Belarus’ border. A brown bear was reported as having crossed the border from Belarus in 2021.

According to reports, the Polish government may increase the clearing through Biaowiea. Jaroszewicz states that in addition to the impacts on wildlife, researchers also worry about noise pollution and light pollution. He also says that the construction could introduce invasive plants, such as goldenrod or golden root, which can be fast-growing weedy species.

But it’s not all about this forest. Blocking Poland’s eastern border would isolate European wildlife from the wider Eurasia. Linnell says it’s a problem on a continental scale. [border]It will be walled off.

Linnell states that wall construction can cause habitat fragmentation, prevent animals finding mates, food, water, and in the long-term can cause regional extinctions due to disruption of gene flow.

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Are you in violation of the law? 

Experts say that the wall construction is in violation of many national laws and important binding international agreements.

One, Biaowiea Forest has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a rare designation that attracts international attention and tourists. Poland was required to comply with the World Heritage Convention’s strictures. This obliges Poland to protect species like bisonand to not harm the environment of the Belarusian portion of the forest. Arie TrouwborstTilburg University in the Netherlands.

Trouwborst suggests that UNESCO could revoke the forests World Heritage Status due to construction of the wall. Trouwborst notes that a natural heritage site has never been removed from UNESCO’s list.

The European Union Habitats directive has designated the Polish portion of the Biaowiea area as a Natura 2000 protected site. The new wall would be incompatible with Poland’s EU-law obligations in this area. This requires it to prevent and remedy activities and projects that may harm the species for which the site has been designated. [including]Trouwborst states that European bisons, lynxes, and wolves are all part of the European bison family.

Trouwborst states that EU law is binding and can be enforced in Poland or by the EU Court of Justice. This court can impose heavy penalties. The law’s reasonable interpretation suggests that the Polish government has already violated the Habitats Directive by constructing a razor-wire fence through Biaowiea Forest. The law stipulates that potentially hazardous projects may only be approved where there is no reasonable scientific basis to doubt their safety. Additional wall construction is a sign of environmental harm.

Trouwborst states that building a fence or wall along a border and not making it open to wildlife protected would be illegal.

The EU Court of Justice has already proven itself capable of ruling on activities in the Biaowiea forest. The Polish government From 2016 to 2018, logging was done in parts of the forestto remove bark beetles infested trees. In April 2018, however, the Court of Justice The court ruled that the logging was illegal.The government also stopped cutting down trees. The Polish government however, did not stop cutting down trees this year. The outskirts Biaowiea saw a resumption in logging.

Walls go up 

Poland is not the only country that is pursuing more border walls. Linnell says that the global trend to build more border walls is threatening to reverse decades of progress in environmental protections. Linnell cites as an example, Linnell’s concern about transboundary, cooperative approaches to conservation.

The U.S.-Mexico boundary, the Slovenian-Croatian border and the entire circumference Mongolia are some of the most prominent areas where walls were recently built. Linnell also notes that much of the European Union is now protected. (Learn more: A threatened wolf went looking for a mate. The border wall prevented him.)

Many conservationists were surprised to see the large increase in wall-building after nearly a century’s progress in building connections between countries. This is especially important in Europe, where no country is large enough to reach all its conservation goals, as populations of animals and plants span across borders.

Linnell claims that this rush to build such walls has caused habitat fragmentation at an unprecedented level. It also shows a breakdown of international cooperation. This is a return to nationalism, where countries try to fix their own problems without considering the environmental cost.

It shows that outside forces can cause damage to the conservation progress we have made… and how fragile our gains are.

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