Artists ask Polish leaders to stop primeval forest logging

WARSAW, Poland — 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.

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