Preventing an environmental disaster

Polesia, Europe’s Amazon, is under severe threat. A coalition of organizations and government ministries from Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine plan to construct a megalomanic infrastructure project: a 2,000km long navigable connection between the Black Sea and the Baltic. With a length 25 times the Panama Canal, the E40 waterway would be Europe’s longest. It would irrevocably alter some of Europe’s remaining free-flowing rivers, turning them into a commercial route for ships more than 80 meters in length. Pristine rivers would require dredging, damming, straightening, and deepening. All this is proposed to happen within the heart of Polesia, the greatest intact wetland wilderness on the European continent – with disastrous and irreversible impacts for nature and humans alike:

We are a partner in the international coalition ‘Save Polesia’, which strives to protect the absolutely breath-taking landscape of Polesia from the construction of the E40 waterway. In order to boost local and regional economies, governments should instead invest in rail infrastructure and make use of the huge potential for nature-based tourism.

“What the Amazon is to South Americans, Polesia is to us – the countless meanders, tributaries, and oxbows are a natural paradise not existing elsewhere in Europe. Many people just don’t know about this hidden gem, we must protect it for generations to come.”

Dr Helen Byron, Save Polesia campaign coordinator

Coalition partners

FZS partners with four conservation organizations from Poland, Belarus and Ukraine to save Polesia:

  • Bahna – Belarus
  • National Ecological Centre
  • OTOP BirdLife
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E40 waterway threatens protected areas and biodiversity hotspots

193 international and 139 national protected areas would be impacted by E40 waterway, about half of the lands are in Polesia.

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Polesia’s enormous potential for nature-based tourism

Nature-based tourism could provide a sustainable and profitable future for the region, but only if the E40 waterway project is stopped.

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No economic case for new waterway through Polesia

Constructing the planned E40 waterway is not economically viable and associated risks are unacceptably high.

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Increased radiation risk associated with E40 waterway

Proposed E40 waterway route cuts through the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and could thus disturb and distribute radioactive sludge.

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