Between biodiversity conservation and sustainable forest management – A multidisciplinary assessment of the emblematic Białowieża Forest case

M. Blicharska , P. Angelstam , L. Giessen , Jacek Hilszczański , E. Hermanowicz , Jan Holeksa , Jette B. Jacobsen , Bogdan Jaroszewicz , A. Konczal , Anna Konieczny , G. Mikusiński , Zbigniew Mirek , F. Mohren , B. Muys , K. Niedziałkowski , M. Sotirov , Krzysztof Stereńczak , Jerzy Szwagrzyk , G.M. Winder , Zbigniew Witkowski , R. Zaplata , G. Winkel


The tension between biodiversity conservation and multipurpose forest management may lead to conflicts. An internationally prominent example is the Białowieża Forest Massif (BFM), an extensive forest complex with high levels of naturalness. We apply a systematic, multidisciplinary assessment process to review empirical evidence on different dimensions of the BFM conflict. While there is broad consensus that this forest massif is an exceptional place worth conserving and that a way forward is a zonation system combining conservation with management, exactly how this should be done has yet to be agreed upon. Our assessment shows that the key reasons for the BFM controversy go beyond the availability of knowledge on the ecological status of the BFM and include: 1) evidence stemming from different sources, which is often contradictory and prone to different interpretations; 2) knowledge gaps, particularly with regard to socio-economic drivers and beneficiaries as well as uncertainties about future trends; 3) fundamentally different values and priorities among stakeholder groups, resulting in power struggles, and an overall lack of trust. We conclude that evidence-based knowledge alone is insufficient to cope with complex conservation conflicts. While more evidence may help assess the consequences of decisions, the actual management decisions depend on different actors' worldviews, which are rooted in their professional identities and power, and their political and legal realities. This calls for conflict management through a well-organized participatory process organized and supervised by a body deemed legitimate by the groups involved.
Author M. Blicharska
M. Blicharska,,
, P. Angelstam
P. Angelstam,,
, L. Giessen
L. Giessen,,
, Jacek Hilszczański
Jacek Hilszczański,,
, E. Hermanowicz
E. Hermanowicz,,
, Jan Holeksa
Jan Holeksa,,
, Jette B. Jacobsen
Jette B. Jacobsen,,
, Bogdan Jaroszewicz
Bogdan Jaroszewicz,,
, A. Konczal
A. Konczal,,
, Anna Konieczny
Anna Konieczny,,
et al.`
Journal seriesBiological Conservation, ISSN 0006-3207, e-ISSN 1873-2917, (N/A 140 pkt)
Issue year2020
Publication size in sheets0.7
Article number108614
Keywords in EnglishBiałowieża Forest, Biodiversity conservation, Forest management, Interdisciplinarity, Conservation conflictLand use conflict, Sustainable land use
ASJC Classification1105 Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics; 2309 Nature and Landscape Conservation
Languageen angielski
Score (nominal)140
Score sourcejournalList
Publication indicators Scopus SNIP (Source Normalised Impact per Paper): 2018 = 1.836; WoS Impact Factor: 2018 = 4.451 (2) - 2018=5.163 (5)
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