Green Infrastructure


Bialowieza Forest - ecological network pilot project

A Forest of Hope

ECNC together with Vereniging Natuurmonumenten (NM) finalised the transboundary European Ecological Network pilot project between Poland and Belarus for the world-famous Bialowieza Forest in 2005. The project was implemented together with the National Park Departments on the Polish and Belarus sides of the Forest, while involving all relevant stakeholders, in particular the Forest Departments and local stakeholders.


The project aimed to further develop this internationally renowned area as one coherent natural and self-maintaining ecological core area of the European Ecological Network. It highlighted the role of forestry, hydrology, tourism and agriculture in enhancing the ecological coherence of the area, these being the themes that were prioritized by park managers of the Bialowieza Forest on both sides of the border. The project also focused on enhancing the social coherence within this cross-border forest, to foster harmony with the demands of the local communities, while respecting both natural and cultural values. The project contributed to the development of an integrated management plan for the Forest, and highlighted the prospects of the Bialowieza Forest to become a testing ground in Europe for sustainable development.

Time frame

The project duration was 18 months and the final report was submitted to the funder at the end of July 2006.


  • Vereniging Natuurmonumenten, the Netherlands
  • Bialowieza National Park Directorate, Poland
  • Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park Directorate, Belarus
  • North-Podlasian Bird Protection Society, Poland (PTOP)
  • Belarussian Bird Society, Belarus (APB)
  • IUCN Office for Central Europe


The financiers of the project were the Netherlands Government (the BBI Matra Programme of the Netherlands Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and Vereniging Natuurmonumenten.


  • A map showing the cross-border ecological network, designed for the area, which can be downloaded below.
  • Jointly agreed forest management principles, discussed at an international workshop. The international workshop 'Bialowieza - A forest of hope' took place in Bialowieza, on the border of Poland and Belarus from 6 to 8 April 2006. It was organized by ECNC, Vereniging Natuurmonumenten, Bialowieza National Park in Poland and Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park in Belarus, together with several other organizations. The workshop focused on ways of enhancing the ecological and social coherence of the Bialowieza Forest as one coherent ecosystem, and resulted in the 'Bialowieza ? A forest of hope Appeal 2006', which includes suggestions for concrete priority actions and principles for hydrology, sustainable tourism, forestry and ecological networks, and the links to agriculture. The letter announcing the Appeal and the Appeal itself can be downloaded below.
  • A detailed overview of the hydrological system of the area, including proposals for habitat restoration activities (map layer and study).
  • A tourism zonation system designed for the area (map layer and study).

Four expert working groups were established in the framework of the project. The four groups were: hydrology, forestry, tourism and ecological networks. A summary report of the expert groups' reports was prepared, and can be downloaded below as well.