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Protect Polesia from Destruction

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35.86% Complete

Sponsor: The Rainforest Site

Polesia supports the survival of endangered mammals and bird species, as well as humans throughout Europe. It must be protected!


Polesia is Europe's largest wilderness, a network of swamps and wetlands that stretch across Poland, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, coving an area equivalent to more than two-thirds the size of the UK1.

Like the Amazon basin does for the Western Hemisphere, this important biome is capable of filtering massive amounts of seawater into drinkable water for people throughout Europe, as well as capturing billions of tons of carbon from the atmosphere2.

Large populations of wolves, bison, lynx and 1.5 million migratory birds also make their homes in Polesia, now a war zone tracked by Russian tanks3.

Russian shelling could soon reverse years of efforts to protect the region, while damaging the Danube delta and the Azov-Black Sea coastline, both internationally important conservation areas4.

An even greater threat to Polesia is not one of aggression, but expansion.

The construction of the E40 waterway could lead to an environmental disaster. A plan to link the Black Sea to the Baltic by building a 1,240-mile inland shipping route would cut through a critical and fragile section of Polesia5.

The completed E40 would be 25 times the length of the Panama Canal, and requires dredging, damming, straightening and deepening some of Europe's last major undamaged rivers6. Part of the waterway's construction would involve dredging up the Chernobyl exclusion zone, where nearly four decades on, ambient radiation still exceeds typical background levels by thousands of times7.

Tearing up this land could destroy vast ecosystems and stir up radioactive sludge that accumulated on the bottom of the river following the explosion, potentially contaminating drinking water for millions of people3.

The survival of many different endangered mammals and bird species, as well as humans throughout Europe, depend on Polesia's resilience. The area not only has tremendous natural intrinsic importance, but also provides immeasurable benefits to people through ecosystem services such as water retention, flood mitigation, clean air, and carbon storage1.

We cannot let Polesia be destroyed. Sign the petition below and ask the Governments of Belarus, Poland and Ukraine, and the European Commission to halt the construction of the E40 waterway!

More on this issue:

  1. Frankfurt Zoological Society (2022), "Polesia — Wilderness Without Borders."
  2. Save Polesia (March 2020), "About Polesia A unique wilderness of global importance."
  3. Phoebe Weston, The Guardian (6 March 2020), "The race to save Polesia, Europe's secret Amazon."
  4. Graham Lawton, New Scientist (26 March 2022), "The spoils of war."
  5. Save Polesia (2022), "Public campaign against construction of the E40 waterway, which threatens the valuable natural areas of Poland, Belarus and Ukraine."
  6. Frankfurt Zoological Society (2022), "Raise Your Voice To Save Polesia, Europe's Amazon, Before It Is Too Late!"
  7. Timothy A. Mousseau, PBS News Hour (3 March 2022), "Why military action in radioactive Chernobyl could be dangerous for people and the environment."
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The Petition:

To the Governments of Belarus, Poland and Ukraine, and the European Commission,

Polesia is critically important. Like the Amazon basin does for us in the Western Hemisphere, this important biome is capable of filtering massive amounts of seawater into drinkable water for people throughout Europe, as well as capturing billions of tons of carbon from the atmosphere.

Today, Putin's war of aggression on Ukraine is one threat to this region, but the construction of the E40 waterway could have a far greater impact for years to come.

Dredging, damming, straightening and deepening some of Europe's last major undamaged rivers could destroy or alter the homes of countless native species, many which are endangered.

Part of the waterway's construction would also involve dredging up the Chernobyl exclusion zone, where nearly four decades on, ambient radiation still exceeds typical background levels by thousands of times. Tearing up this land could destroy vast ecosystems and stir up radioactive sludge that accumulated on the bottom of the river following the explosion, potentially contaminating drinking water for millions of people.

The survival of many different endangered mammals and bird species, as well as humans throughout Europe, depend on Polesia's resilience. The area not only has tremendous natural intrinsic importance, but also provides immeasurable benefits to people through ecosystem services such as water retention, flood mitigation, clean air, and carbon storage.

Polesia must be preserved. I ask that you cut funding and halt all plans to construct components of E40 waterway; halt the dredging and damming of the Pripyat river; and undertake a comprehensive strategic assessment of the risks and benefits of the E40 waterway to inform a decision that doesn't threaten the lives of countless lives on Earth.

With your help and leadership alone can we protect Polesia and save Europe from disaster!

Sincerely,

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Signatures: