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Artists ask Polish leaders to stop primeval forest logging
In this file photo taken March 24 , 2017 in the Bialowieza Forest, in Poland, a bison stands near a place where fir trees have been logged. Some 230 writers and artists have written to Poland's President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Beata Szydlo to stop the logging at Europe's last primeval forest that is protected as UNESCO world heritage site. (AP Photo - Adam Bohdan)
From Associated Press
May 19, 2017 10:36 AM EST

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Writers and artists have appealed to Poland's top leaders to stop the logging in Europe's last primeval forest.

The letter by some 230 people to Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Beata Szydlo revives the controversy surrounding the government's decision to intensify logging in the Bialowieza Forest in eastern Poland.

The forest is a protected UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Environment Ministry argues that it's saving the woods' youngest, human-planted parts, mainly spruce trees, from an invasion of bark beetles, thus preserving it. But environmentalists and the European Union say too much of the forest is being felled, including areas not necessarily affected by the bark beetle.

Among the signatories to the letter are Nobel Prize-winning German writer Herta Mueller and Polish filmmakers Agnieszka Holland and Jerzy Skolimowski.

The forest covers around 60,000 hectares (148,260 acres) in eastern Poland and stretches into Belarus, where it covers an even larger area, of 87,000 hectares. It is home to hundreds of animal and plant species, including bison, lynx, moss and lichens.

The ministry says some 4,000 hectares (9,885 acres) of the forest is deadwood now, because of the bark beetle infestation.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.