The World Organization for Nature Protection (WWF) has announced the beginning of a new campaign “The most expensive chair in the world”, which aims to point out to the public in Serbia the problem of destroying natural floodplain forests on river banks in the country and the region.

The focus of the campaign, as it was pointed out, is the decades-long destruction of Vojvodina’s alluvial forests in the Tisza river basin for the needs of the wood industry.

Instead of natural floodplain forests, mostly willow, black and white poplar, hybrid poplar plantations are planted in the areas along the rivers, which bring more material to the wood industry in a shorter period.

For the sake of profit, natural ecosystems have been sacrificed for decades, the habitats of numerous plant and animal species have been destroyed, and the natural defense of the coast from floods has been weakened.

“Hybrid poplars can only replace natural poplars and willows with the number of trees, but their ecological potential is extremely reduced. They do not provide adequate conditions for the survival of many species, such as black stork, perch or white-tailed eagle, and in terms of the overall diversity of the living world, they lag far behind natural floodplain forests, “said WWF representative Goran Sekulic.

He pointed out that floodplains provide a range of ecosystem services that directly contribute to a better life for people.

“We mean rich natural resources, but also flood mitigation, mitigation of the consequences of climate change, potentials for recreation and tourism development. “The destruction of natural habitats in the marshes and the banks of our rivers is a mistake that we will all pay dearly for,” said Sekulic.

It is stated that the central element of the campaign is an ornate wooden chair with accentuated figurative depictions of body parts of those animals that are endangered by their deforestation.

It is explained that the winding course of the river Tisa flows in the middle of the backrest and the seat, and the legs and handrails show the cut trunks of autochthonous tree species.

The chair was advertised on social networks with the aim of taking as many people as possible to the website, where there are numerous data important for understanding the problems of destruction of natural forests and biodiversity in river areas.

The campaign is based on data from the text “Earnings of the wood industry in front of natural floodplain forests” by journalist Mina Delic, a student at the journalism school of the Center for Investigative Reporting in Serbia (CINS).

Cooperation with CINS and this campaign are part of the project “Let the climate suit us”, which WWF in Serbia is implementing with the support of the Government of Sweden.

With the support of CINS School, WWF has supported investigative journalism in the field of nature protection and climate change.

It was emphasized that the floodplain forests are the most endangered ecosystems in Europe and that their importance for mitigating the consequences of global warming is great, but even more important is their potential to protect the area around the river from flooding or water pollution.

With the certification of forests and the application of international standards for responsible forest management, a deviation has been made from the practice of converting natural forests into hybrid plantations, but in the field the restoration of floodplain forests, ie the return of natural communities, is very slow. Thus, the problem, it was pointed out, is not solved, but the consequences become more complicated and become irreparable.

The WWF stated that they are in favor of changes to the legal framework that would improve and more clearly define the protection of these habitats and enable their efficient restoration throughout Serbia.

These changes are also necessary for Serbia to succeed in fulfilling the obligations it has undertaken in international agreements, which are becoming more and more demanding with the new global policies from this year, the statement said.

E2 portal   (Beta)

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