Environment Minister ousts Białowieża National Park chief
PR dla Zagranicy
Polish Environment Minister Jan Szyszko dismissed the three-year director of the Białowieża National Park, Mirosław Stepaniuk, on Monday, without offering an official justification of his decision.
The news was confirmed by acting director Aleksander Bołbot, Stepaniuk's erstwhile deputy.
A competition for the post is to be launched as soon as possible, "most likely" this week, the Ministry declared on Tuesday.
Szyszko, who gave no explanation for the reason behind his decision, "had the right to do so," said Ministry spokesperson Katarzyna Pliszczyńska, arguing that regulations do not require any justification for dismissals on his part.
Mirosław Stepaniuk headed the Białowieża National Park, which protects Europe's last primeval forest, since 2012.
The 94-year-old national park, the oldest in Poland, covers a sixth of the area of the Polish part of the Białowieża forest, the remaining part of which is administered by state-run entity State Forests in charge of woodlands owned by the State Treasury. The forest straddles the Polish-Belarusian border, with a separate national park existing on the Belarusian side.
Minister Szyszko has for years supported the local communities' right to exploit the unique primal forest to procure timber, a practice fiercely resisted by the management of the national park. (ab/rk)