Eastern Eden: Poland’s primeval wildernesses

On Poland’s far border lies Białowieża, one of the last remnants of Europe’s primeval forest. It’s a haven for birds and mammals, but it’s also under threat, as our writer discovered on a new trip

The Polish border with Belarus, on the eastern edge of the EU, may not seem an obvious holiday destination but there, largely unknown to British travellers, lie two amazing destinations for nature lovers. Białowieża forest, which straddles the border, is the last extensive stretch of the primeval forest that once covered all of north-east Europe, while, 100km to the north, the Biebrza marshes are among the continent’s most important wetlands.

These two national parks are almost the only places where Europe’s original landscape and wildlife can be seen. But Białowieża forest has become a new kind of front line, between environmentalists and the Polish government, which this week gave the go-ahead to large-scale logging.

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