The people of Wrocław save the Mokrzañski Forest. A dispute with state forests and Jacek Sutryk’s advisers

Las Mokrzański is the largest forest complex located on the northwestern edge of Wrocław. It covers more than 650 ha and is called the city’s green lung, but for decades it was treated as economical. Local residents do not accept indiscriminate logging. It all started with the marking of trees.

– I saw a woman marking hundred-year-old oak trees. I thought he was blazing a trail. It never occurred to me that these trees had to be felled – Ewa Misztal told “Wyborcza” at the end of 2020. At that time, foresters were cutting down entire swaths of forest. Acres of trees, including 60- and 100-year-old pines, oaks and birches, went under the axe.

TO SEE: There were trees, there is a mess. Wrocław residents want to save the largest forest within city limits

The resident of Leśnica was outraged. – For me, this forest is a refuge. New subdivisions are being built at an accelerated pace. People leave the city center because they are tired of the hustle and bustle there. And access is improving – she says.

Deforestation of the Mokrzański Forest in Wrocław Photo Photo Krzysztof Ćwik / Agencja

His anxiety was shared by others. They collected eight thousand signatures as part of the petition against logging. This is how the social committee “Save the Mokrzański Forest” was created. Not only activists and environmentalists are interested in the forest, but also locals of different ages and educations.

The trees that protect us go under the ax

– No new planting will compensate for lost trees, as the example of recent years shows. Many of them simply faded – the experts of the committee were alarmed. In their view, state forests run an economy of theft.

By way of comparison: wood harvesting in the municipal forests of Wrocław is more than 10 times less.

– The company has the right to vote on forest regulations, it is a moral law. We have climate change, polluted air, degraded landscapes and fewer and fewer places for people in the agglomeration to rest, said Grzegorz Idziak, a member of the committee.

He was alarmed: – Wrocław has the smallest forest area within the city limits of all major Polish cities and tops the air pollution rankings in Poland.

Mokrzański Forest in springMokrzański Forest in spring Photo Tomasz Pietrzyk / Agencja

The Miękinia Forest District, which manages the forest, agreed to suspend the saws and meet with locals for consultations. The issue was the change of the forest management plan for the next 10 years.

Foresters have proposed abandoning the nests and completing the cuts in 2021. In practice, this means that the number of trees slated for harvesting has not decreased. However, the forests have abandoned the form of logging, leaving large gaps. There were also statements about changing the status of the Mokrzański Forest from an economic function to a forest with a dominant social function (the so-called urban forest).

– This means that the most blatant methods of forest management will not take place – commented Robert Suligowski, committee member and chairman of the Green Party Circle in Wrocław.

The forest inspectorate has also proposed to launch broad public consultations by 2031.

Las Mokrzański is a mecca for birds

The social committee is suspicious of the plans of the foresters, so they are constantly looking for ways to protect the greenery. As the forest was poorly understood in terms of its nature, activists and conservationists hoped birdwatchers might be able to discover bird species that could help protect the area, for example by creating protective zones around their sites. of nesting.

And we did. After several months of voluntary work, the first report on the avifauna of Las Mokrzański was prepared.

Big beakBig beak ADAM WAJRAK

– I was surprised by the variety of species. We discovered 53 species and this is the minimum, because there are certainly more. We simply did not have time to get to know the avifauna of this place in depth, we focused mainly on valuable species from the point of view of conservation – said “Wyborcza” Bartosz Smyk, coordinator of the inventory in the Mokrzański Forest and expert from Poland. Society for the Protection of Birds.

He added that the most valuable in the Mokrzański Forest is the fact that it is usually forest species.

– Many of these birds, even during the breeding season, I did not see anywhere in Wrocław, for example, a tree creeper, a grosbeak or a snake. The May sightings are actually a high-caliber curiosity, as they rarely nest in the Lower Silesian lowlands, the expert noted.

READ ALSO: Residents of Wrocław went for a walk and cleaned up Mokrzański Forest. The forest inspectorate is trying to outsmart them and take over

Ornithologists want to continue their research. The New Presence Foundation also won the Wrocław Microgrants competition. At the end of May and June, Smyk will lead three free ornithological workshops in the Mokrzański Forest.

Is itIs it Jerzy Klunder

– I’m sure we’ll find more interesting and rare birds. Already, the vast majority of identified species are under strict protection under national legislation, notes the ornithologist.

Leśnica meadows do not want to hand over to developers

At the same time, local residents are fighting to prevent developers from concreting the surrounding forest. The Leśnica meadows are to be allocated for the construction of a housing estate of single-family houses. The Leśnica Estate Council appealed to President Jacek Sutryk to resign from the sale of this area. Support was also provided by the Miękinia Forest District.

– Building a forest leads to its destruction. The forest is developed with housing estates in the north, west and now also in the south. The current city policy leads to the destruction of the forest ecosystem, transforming it into a park, a square. We have to stop, there is no room for concessions here, warned Grzegorz Idziak of the committee.

Environmentalists threaten the degradation of the whole ecosystem, including the disruption of water conditions, as well as the loss of biodiversity. It is also the destruction of recreation areas for forest residents, including residents of TBS at ul. Prężycka, for whom the development of “Meadows by the TBS” is the loss of the only green space.

They collected three thousand signatures from residents of Leśnica and the surrounding area as part of the projects for the protection of these areas.

A developer instead of Leśnica meadows.  Residents of Wrocław warn: A developer instead of Leśnica meadows. Wrocław residents warn: ‘There will be a park after Mokrzański Forest’ Photo Photo Krzysztof Cwik / Agencja

The municipal councilors decided the further fate of the forest buffer zone. Members of Jacek Sutryk’s club, including those from Nowa Lewica, voted against.

Councilor Ewa Wolak, former vice-president of the Sejm’s environmental protection committee, says she has carefully scrutinized the city’s projects.

– President Sutryk is doing everything in his power to save the natural environment. Another thing is that you have to respect land use planning and develop land that has long been devoted to development. We live in town. The grasslands are not protected and we will not disturb the forest structure – explains Wolak.

Sutryka councilors oppose protection of Las Mokrzański grasslands

Paweł Karpiński, chairman of the environmental protection committee, also points out that the designated development areas are not grassland: – They are overgrown agricultural land. The meadows are mowed once a year. Nor is it true that these areas constitute an ecological corridor. They run along power lines and at the same time lead to buildings.

– We would like to remind you that this city is responsible for the condition and maintenance of meadows – says biologist Małgorzata Piszczek. – To maintain their character, it is enough to mow them once a year, and the city has not done this. However, this is not an irreversible situation. Simply restore grassland mowing and the habitat will return to its normal state.

According to Karpiński, the social committee is trying to undermine spatial planning in the city: – Which is unacceptable. If we deviate from the plan, we are about to wake up to a place full of anarchy.

The councilors accuse the committee of wanting to lead a political campaign (the Green Party has been involved in the protection of the forest from the very beginning). Councilor Dominik Kłosowski from Nowa Lewica, who sits in the President’s Club, also lists that over the past three years more than 100 ha of green areas, 60 parks, green areas and squares have been created in Wrocław (actually , there are 51 and more than half of them from WBO). He accused social activists of manipulation.

READ ALSO: Demonstration of environmentalists and residents of Wrocław at pl. Nowy Targ: ‘Jacek, don’t kill this town’

Ecological demonstration in front of the Town Hall at pl.  New market.Ecological demonstration in front of the Town Hall at pl. New market. Photo Tomasz Pietrzyk / Agencja

Robert Suligowski responded to the adviser’s attack: – I would like the closed heads and hearts of Mr. Sutryk’s advisers to manage that it is not Suligowski or Nowotarski [prezes Akcji Miasto – red.]or anyone, but that there are hundreds of people in Leśnica active in campaigns for education, cleaning, caring for animals, collecting signatures. That he is supported by several thousand people in Wrocław. And that even if such Suligowski or Nowotarski may have some political ambitions, if they are also parents, they may have a certain environmental sensitivity.

The meadows will eventually be sold. Residents warn developers that they will complain about administrative decisions. You can follow their activities on Facebook by typing “Save the Mokrzański Forest”.

To Mokrzański Forest by bike

A bike ride to Las Mokrzański is a good idea for residents of the western districts of Popowice, Kozanów, Pilczyce and Leśnica. You can get there, for example, from the vicinity of the Wrocław Stadium along the bicycle paths of ul. Królewiecka, ul. Główna and ul. Marszowicka, then changes to ul. Modelski.

Access through the city from other areas will take a little longer. The journey from the center is about 20 km. However, you can also take a bicycle to the Koleje Dolnośląskie train in Dworzec Główny and get off at Wrocław Leśnica station.

Supercities and superregions: green areas of Wrocław and Lower Silesia

In May, together with the readers of “Gazeta Wyborcza”, we will choose the most important, most beautiful and most worthy of protection green spaces in Wrocław and Lower Silesia. Until May 8, we are waiting for the suggestions of the inhabitants. You can present parks, gardens, forests, meadows, tree alleys. Photos and justifications are welcome.

We encourage readers to submit nominations to or in a private message on Facebook Wrocław.

Super Cities 2022

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