Forest privatization was one of the topics of Monday’s election debate on TVP. Donald Tusk, Szymon Hołownia and Krzysztof Bosak responded at length to a rather unexpected topic.
The TVP debate, which took place on October 9, had little in common with the real election debate. The vast majority of experts admitted that the presenters’ biased questions and the format, which did not allow for discussion between politicians, made it only a poor imitation. Interestingly, public television is legally obliged to conduct a real debate before each election in Poland.
Question about State Forests
Interestingly, among the questions that could last a minute and a half, i.e. 30 seconds longer than the candidates had to answer, there was also the topic of State Forests. Forests have been included in the issue of privatization.
Opposition candidates expressed particularly strong opinions on this issue. Szymon Hołownia, representing the Third Way, i.e. the Poland 2050 coalition and the Polish People’s Party, admitted that the State Forests “they have already been privatized by Zbigniew Ziobro’s party, which extracts money from there for all sorts of political shenanigans”.
The leader of the Civic Coalition, Donald Tusk, also had no doubts about the role of the State Forests. He said forests “they are 100 percent partisan”.
– The most expensive wood, unavailable wood, Polish furniture companies are going bankrupt, Polish forests are going to China. The most trees are being cut down in history, and the tree is the least available in history. You will be responsible for this, because whoever raises a hand against Polish forests, raises a hand against the homeland – said Donald Tusk.
Krzysztof Bosak, representing the Confederation, spoke about forests in a slightly more subdued way.
– These are strategic assets for the entire economy, they should not be sold, they should not be privatized – said Krzysztof Bosak. – We should also make sure that unprocessed wood does not leave Poland, because it affects the Polish wood industry, the furniture industry, and the export industry. At the moment, unfortunately, this wood is in short supply – added the leader of the Confederation.
The largest forest clearing in history
How do the words said by opposition politicians during the debate correspond to reality? To verify them, it is best to consult official sources. According to data from the state Central Statistical Office, the export of wood and wood products increased significantly in 2007-2022. However, it is difficult to say that the last four years have been record-breaking.
Based on the Central Statistical Office data, a graphic showing the scale of exports was published on the X website by Sławomir Kalinowski, an economist from the Polish Academy of Sciences. “At the peak (in 2018), it was 12.18 million tons per year! By July 2023, 5.0 million tons have already been sold, which is more than half of what was sold last year!” – he wrote, pointing to 2018, which was actually a record year. More than twice as much wood was exported from Poland than in 2007.
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