EThe 300,000 hectare Bialowieza forest on the border between Poland and Belarus is one of Europe's most important nature conservation areas and has been a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site since 1979. This former hunting ground of the Russian tsars is today home to 900 European bisons, elks, wolves, lynx and deer. With more than 250 bird species, 59 mammals and over 12,000 invertebrates, Bialowieza is one of Central Europe's biodiversity centres, attracting tourists from all over the world.

A controversial change to Polish environmental law has unleashed what campaigners describe as a “massacre” of trees across the country. The new amendment, commonly known as “Szyszko’s law”, after Jan Szyszko, Poland’s environment minister, removes the obligation for private landowners to apply for permission to cut down trees, pay compensation or plant new trees, or even to inform local authorities that trees have been or will be removed. The change came into force on 1 January and has led to a surge in tree-felling, with activists reporting newly cleared spaces in cities, towns and parts of the countryside all over Poland.

In 2015, after a decade of environmental conflicts the forest industry, ent environmental organisations and the government singed an agreement that secured a moratorium on logging on part of the native forests. Two years later, however, the government has reneged on the agreement, announcing a plan that allow logging in 356,000 hectares of land otherwise protected under a moratorium until 2020. The legislation has been widely opposed, not only by the environmentalists, but also by the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania, that promised to campaign against the move.

Eye on the Taiga - How paper industry’s claimed 'sustainable forestry' in Russia is destroying the Great Northern Forest". This is the message of the report released today by Greenpeace after months of investigations, documenting the risks for the intact forests in the Arkhangelsk region and highlights the role of a key number of companies linked with this environmental crime through their supply chains. In the spotlight, the "Arkhangelsk" paper company and the impacts of its massive expansion plans.

Its lower cost has made it popular in commercial food and cosmetics production, but after having caused massive  deforestation in Southeast Asia, palm oil plantations are now getting a similar rap in Africa. Oil palm plantations are rapidly expanding in Gabon, Cameroon and the Congo Basin. Gabon - where forest covers still 80 percent of the territory - is feeling the brunt.

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