Dangerous environmental impact of Poland's anti-immigration wall
The 187-kilometer barrier runs through forests, swamps, and meadows which are home to many species of animals and plants.
The border crisis between Poland and Belarus has been the site of a migration crisis. In response, the Polish government has built a five-meter-high wall along roughly half of the border to halt the flow of "illegal migrants".
The 187-kilometer barrier, which was built between January and June of this year, runs through forests, swamps, and meadows which are home to many species of animals and plants.
It is worth noting that the Biebrza Marshes and the forests of Biaowiea, Knyszyn, and Augustów, are protected under national and European law.
As a result, scientists, non-governmental organizations, and the European Parliament's environmental committee have raised concerns about the barrier's environmental impact and compliance with EU directives. They claim that the construction will obstruct ecological corridors, preventing animal movement.
1,400 scientists and a coalition of 160 non-governmental organizations petitioned the European Commission to intervene in January, raising the alarm that the wall would pose a permanent barrier to the connectivity of Natura 2000 ecological corridors on a national and European level.
According to the scientists' letter, linear landscape barriers are among the most serious threats to nature because they disrupt gene flow between wildlife populations, disrupt animal spatial and social organization, disrupt habitat use, disrupt reproduction, as well as threaten the extinction of some species. Furthermore, they cautioned that tree felling and road improvements would harm the conservation status of species and habitats.
However, a series of Polish government officials have rebuffed that the barrier poses any environmental risk.
The chief nature conservator and deputy environment minister, Magorzata Goliska, claimed that an environmental impact assessment had been completed.
“The barrier would not negatively affect the environment,” she said, adding “it would even be a benefit to animals, which would no longer be exposed to the presence of humans on the border”.
For the time being, the future of wildlife on Poland's eastern border appears to be uncertain.
Similar to apartheid practices, the 187-kilometer barrier between Poland and Belarus is meant to separate human beings while also having a devastating effect on the environment.
See more: The Polish-Belarusian Border Crisis