Why do foresters oppose the enlargement of the Białowieża National Park? The motivation of the State Forests Holding employees as perceived by social actors engaged in the conflict over the Białowieża Forest

Krzysztof Niedziałkowski 1
  • 1 The Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences*, ul. Nowy Świat 72, 00–330 Warszawa, Poland; The Mammal Research Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences, ul. Waszkiewicza 1, 17–230 , Białowieża, Poland


This study outlines the main motives of foresters opposing the enlargement of the Białowieża National Park to include areas managed by the State Forests Holding. The motives were identified using discourse analysis tools based on the semistructured interviews with 36 people representing various groups of actors engaged in the discussion on the management of the Białowieża Forest. The main motives I found are connected to: (1) a vision of how nature should be and the foresters’ mission; (2) fear of losing employment or getting a worse job; (3) the high esteem of the forester profession in local communities and an inferior vocational status of the national park employees; (4) defending the professional prestige of foresters and the State Forests Holding; (5) competition with national parks over natural areas; (6) forest science; (7) the wish to continue hunting in the Białowieża Forest; (8) bottom-up pressure on the State Forests Holding employees. The major conflict potential in the discourse around the Białowieża Forest is connected with the perception of its unique natural values and methods of protection. As a result, two opposing coalitions have formed: one supporting forestry interests and one encouraging conservation. The discourse of the forestry-supporting coalition is strengthened by an epistemic community of forest scientists. Some arguments presented by the foresters pushing for a continuation of forest management in Białowieża also indicate the involvement of path dependency, which, in combination with large differences between the coalitions, does not allow for optimism regarding the resolution of the conflict.

Falls das inline PDF nicht korrekt dargestellt ist, können Sie das PDF hier herunterladen.

  • Adamczyk W. 1994. Rezerwat biosfery Puszczy Białowieskiej a jego mieszkańcy - diagnoza współdziałania (studium socjologiczne). Warszawa-Białystok-Lublin, Instytut Badawczy Leśnictwa.

  • Adger N.W., Brown K., Fairbrass J., Jordan A., Paavola J., Rosendo S., Seyfang G. 2003. Governance for sustainability: towards a ‘thick’ analysis of environmental decision making. Environment and Planning A 35: 1095-1110. DOI 10.1068/a35289.

  • Blavascunas E. 2014. When foresters reterritorialize the periphery: post-socialist forest politics in Białowieża, Poland. Journal of Political Ecology 21: 475-492.

  • Blicharska M., Angelstam P. 2010. Conservation at risk: Conflict analysis in the Białowieża Forest, a European biodiversity hotspot. International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management 6(1-2): 68-74. DOI 10.1080/21513732.2010.520028.

  • Blicharska M., Van Herzele A. 2015. What a forest? Whose forest? Struggles over concepts and meanings in the debate about the conservation of the Białowieża Forest in Poland. Forest Policy and Economics 57: 22-30. DOI 10.1016/j.forpol.2015.04.003.

  • Dryzek J.S. 2013. The Politics of the Earth. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

  • Few R. 2002. Researching actor power: Analyzing mechanisms of interaction in negotiations over space. Area 34(1): 29-38. DOI 10.1111/1475-4762.00054.

  • Franklin S. 2002. Białowieża Forest, Poland: Representation, myth, and the politics of dispossession. Environment and Planning A 34(8): 1459-1485. DOI: 10.1068/a34259.

  • Gliński P. 2001. Konflikt o puszczę. Raport z badań nad konfliktem społecznym z poszerzeniem BNP . Pogranicze: Studia Społeczne 10: 47-114.

  • Haas P.M. 1992. Epistemic communities and international policy coordination. International Organization 46(1): 1-35. DOI 10.1017/S0020818300001442.

  • Hajer M. 1995. The politics of environmental discourse. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

  • Hajer M., Versteeg W. 2005. A decade of discourse analysis of environmental politics: Achievements, challenges, perspectives. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning 7(3): 175-184. DOI: 10.1080/15239080500339646.

  • Krasner S.D. 1984. Approaches to the State: Alternative Conceptions and Historical Dynamics. Comparative Politics 16(2): 223-246. DOI 10.2307/421608.

  • Niedziałkowski K., Paavola J., Jędrzejewska B. 2012. Participation and Protected Areas Governance: the Impact of Changing Influence of Local Authorities on the Conservation of the Białowieża Primeval Forest, Poland. Ecology and Society 17(1). DOI 10.5751/ES-04461-170102.

  • Niedziałkowski K., Blicharska M., Mikusiński G., Jędrzejewska B. 2014. Why is it difficult to enlarge a protected area? Ecosystem services perspective on the conflict around the extension of the Białowieża National Park in Poland. Land Use Policy 38: 314-329. DOI 10.1016/j.landusepol.2013.12.002.

  • Pierson P. 2000. Increasing returns, path dependence, and the study of politics. The American Political Science Review 94(2): 251-267. DOI 10.2307/2586011.

  • Rancew-Sikora D. 2002. Konflikt w polskim dyskursie ekologicznym: pole analizy konwersacyjnej. Studia Socjologiczne 167(4): 67-84.

  • Sadowski A. 2001. Społeczno-kulturowe następstwa poszerzenia Białowieskiego Parku Narodowego. Pogranicze: Studia Społeczne 10: 7-46.

  • Szafer W. 1957. Pierwsze karty z historii Białowieskiego Parku Narodowego. Kosmos 6(5): 469-475.


Zeitschrift + Hefte