Poland is tackling refugees fleeing the Middle East and Asia. To prevent illegal refugee infiltration, Poland plans to build a wall along the border with Belarus. However, this wall will disrupt the Białowieża Forest. It is an ancient and vast forest, which is the largest forest in Europe. This forest is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to over 12,000 species.

The Białowieża Forest is divided into 2 parts

When the wall is built, the forest will be divided into 2 parts. Unique species of animal and plants live in this rainforest. At the heart of the forest is dead and decaying wood, on which many species depend, including mosses, lichens, fungi, insects and a variety of vertebrates. There are many large animals that need to move for food and mating. These include the European bison, boar, lynx and wolf. These animals live on both sides of the border, and when the forest splits, it will be a huge problem.

The wall will do more harm than good

The construction of the wall will also affect the movement of brown bears, which have been observed in this forest for a long time. As the wall will be high, it will affect even birds, such as grouse. The construction of the wall will also cause noise and light pollution, which will push many animals out of their territory.

Białowieża Forest, Credit: BBC

The amount of waste at the site will also increase and the presence of people will increase the risk of contracting various diseases. The Polish wall will be very massive, its height will be 5.5 meters and will contain barbed wire. The new wall is to replace the current fence, which is no longer satisfactory. Its height is 2.5 meters and is 130 kilometers long. It is a temporary fence, which was built during the summer and autumn of 2021.

Illegal migrants on the border between Poland and Belarus

Brutal impact on forest life

There are no standards for border fences in Europe that can alleviate wall construction. This construction will resemble the construction of the wall that divides the USA and Mexico. Fences have been shown to have a brutal effect on animal life. When Slovenia built a fence near the border with Croatia in 2015, it killed a large number of animals. There have been a high number of deaths of deer and herons. 0.12 ungulates died per 1 kilometer of the fence. When a fence was erected on the border between Croatia and Hungary, 0.47 ungulates per kilometer died in the first 28 months. The fence disrupts the animals’ movements so much that they run away from predators and can become easy prey. The walls often force the animals to embark on a more dangerous route, such as across a river.

The Białowieża Forest is home to many rare species of animals and plants.

All over the world, we find 32,000 kilometers of fences and walls at the borders. Their large increase has occurred in the last few decades. Building a wall at the border would significantly complicate the lives of more than 700 mammals. Their ability to adapt to climate change will deteriorate and their genetic diversity will also be reduced. The wall at the borders will disrupt the entire forest ecosystem, and before construction begins, it would be worth considering whether it would not be better to choose a solution that does not have such a drastic impact on the local flora and fauna.


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