Valuable marshes in Poland endangered by mining project

The Australian company Balamara has plans to mine for coal in the Polish region of Lubelskie. This is not only harmful to the climate, but also threatens the species diversity of the marshes of the neighbouring Poleski National Park.

threaten landscape in Poland

Bagno Bubnow is one of the bog complexes endangered by coal mining.

© Grzegorz Grzywaczewski
Aquatic Warbler in the reed

Once a common breeding bird in the moors and lowlands of Central Europe, the Aquatic Warbler is now threatened with extinction.

© Grzegorz Grzywaczewski

The area around the Poleski National Park is known for its unspoilt lakes and marshes. However, there are also large reserves of coal underground. These reserves are already being exploited by the Bogdanka mine, approximately 10 kilometres from the border of the National Park. There is now an attempt by the Australian company Balamara to open up another pit in the immediate vicinity of the national park. The necessary documentation for this has already been applied for.

The mine would require constant extraction of the ground water, and this would almost certainly lead to the drying up of the marshes and lakes. Endangered species that are reliant on the wetlands would die out locally. One such species is the particularly rare aquatic warbler, which has become extinct in Germany and has its last significant healthy population within the national park. 4% out of a world population of 20,000 breed here. The habitats affected by the mining are Natura-2000 sites enjoying European protection, and so any developments must be investigated for their impact on the protected habitat. Any approval of the mining application without a thorough environmental impact survey would be a clear breach of EU law.

The planned coalmine would furthermore have devastating effects on the climate. Instead of acting as carbon sinks, the marshlands would change to being to net emitters of carbon dioxide. “In the context of the Paris Climate Targets, the plans of Balamara and the Polish government are totally cynical. Intact wetlands are of immense importance for the preservation of species diversity and the resolution of the climate crisis,” says EuroNatur Executive director Gabriel Schwaderer. A coalition of Polish and international conservation organisations, including EuroNatur, are campaigning for the rejection of this ecologically destructive project.

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