Protecting old-growth forests in Poland

Over 100,000 signatures have been forwarded to the Polish government, calling for the protection of Europe’s last remaining stands of natural forests.

The signature drive is part of a WWF campaign to safeguard ancient woodlands in Poland’s Bialowieza Primaeval Forest from logging and other unsustainable forest activities.

In February 2007, a report by Poland’s public audit body, the Supreme Chamber of Control, exposed inadequacies concerning forest management in the country’s most valuable forest areas. In October 2007, the Council of Europe suspended the European Diploma of Protected Areas awarded to the Bialowieza National Park because of lack of sufficient protection.

Also in 2007, the Forest Stewardship Council — an international, non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring environmentally responsible forest management — suspended certification for this region for similar reasons.

“For years, Polish politicians have been passively looking on as the degradation of this unique woodland continued,” said Ireneusz Chojnacki, WWF-Poland’s Programme Director. “Today, they may well have a one-time opportunity to do something about it.”

A special task force set up by Poland’s President, Lech Kaczynski has already drafted legislation to ensure protection of the forest, including extending the Bialowieza National Forest to encompass currently unprotected ancient forest strands. As part of the legislation, a special socio-economic programme has been planned to promote sustainable tourism for local communities living near the forest.

“Over 100,000 people demand that this legislative initiative be accepted by the president and then voted upon by the Polish Parliament,” added Chojnacki.

Home to lynx, wolves and other wildlife, the Bialowieza Forest is the last natural forest on the Central European lowland. Although it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, together with the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park on the Belarus side, only 17% of the Polish area of the forest is protected as a national park.

The WWF campaign is aimed at improving the level of protection of the old-growth, primeval forests in and around the park.

“We cannot allow a further degradation of the natural heritage of Poland, as well as the entire European continent,” Chojnacki said.
Source: panda.org

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Poland offers 440 mln zlotys in 2-yr bonds at supplementary tender

WARSAW (Thomson Financial) - Poland will offer 440 mln zlotys of its 2-year bonds at a non-competitive supplementary tender today, after it sold all 2.2 bln zlotys of the new paper at an auction earlier today, the finance ministry said.

After successful sales, the ministry can offer up to 20 pct of the initial offer at a top-up tender, to investors who bought at the primary auction.

Demand from investors at the earlier tender topped 7.34 bln zlotys.

Source: By Patrick Graham, forbes.com

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EDS signs outsourcing deal in Poland

PLANO, Texas (AP) - Technology services company Electronic Data Systems Corp. said Tuesday it signed a five-year, $52 million outsourcing deal with Telekomunikacja Polska, a telecom operator in Poland.

As part of the deal, EDS (NYSE:EDS) will manage the company's desktop management infrastructure, including providing technical support for more than 33,000 TP employees in Poland. In addition, 150 TP employees will be transferred to EDS.

France Telecom (NYSE:FTE) holds a nearly 48 percent stake in Telekomunikacja Polska.
Source: money.cnn.com

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Hong Kong bans Poland poultry imports after bird flu report

HONG KONG (XFN-ASIA) - Hong Kong today suspended the import of poultry from Poland after Warsaw reported its first cases of the deadly bird flu virus among domestic birds, the government said.

'The decision was taken following confirmation of a case involving the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 on two poultry farms there,' said a spokesman for the Center for Food Safety.

The strain was detected on two turkey farms in central Poland on Dec 1. Bird flu was found last year in the country, but in wild birds.

Hong Kong, which was the scene of the world's first reported major bird flu outbreak among humans in 1997, imported about 5,900 tonnes of frozen poultry products from Poland from January to August this year.


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In Poland, a battle over future of the Gdansk shipyards

Lukasz Wrona was not even born when Lech Walesa faced down Poland's Communist leaders at the gates of the Gdansk shipyards in 1981, and he asserts that the city's future should not be held hostage by its history.

"It's the services industry that's important in Europe now," said Wrona, 25, a computer programmer for Compuware, an American company that opened its Polish offices in Gdansk two years ago. "The shipyard is above all a symbol of the past."

The government's battle to save the shipyard, despite criticism from the European Union, culminated in an agreement last month to sell the complex to a Ukrainian company and has masked a new revolution in Gdansk. Computer services, tourism and amber jewelry now underpin the city's economy, diminishing the importance of the shipyard that was once its biggest employer.

This time, Walesa is trying to resist the change.

"I don't agree with the theory that the shipyard belongs to Gdansk's past but not to its future," Walesa, 64, said at his office in Gdansk, with a laptop computer to his left and a flat-screen monitor to his right. "You don't destroy your mother, you have to help to find a solution, to make her an example of economic efficiency."

The shipyard now employs about 3,000 people, a fifth the work force it had when Communist rule ended in 1989.

The yard, founded in 1945 on land once occupied by Nazi military workshops, is situated next to the Baltic Sea and the city's old town, with its cobbled streets, medieval churches and pedestrian areas lined with jewelry stalls.

The Baltic Property Trust, based in Copenhagen, plans to take advantage of that location by investing in a mall, hotel and luxury apartments to be built on land formerly owned by the shipyard. Construction of "Mlode Miasto," or "Young City," is scheduled to begin in the first quarter.

The shipyard still occupies 70 hectares, or 173 acres, of waterfront property, about half the land covered by the old Lenin Shipyard, and operates three slipways. The yard has built more than 1,000 vessels.

The European Union threatened in July to declare at least €1.3 billion, or $1.9 billion, of aid to Poland's three state-run shipyards illegal unless the country shut two of the Gdansk slipways. Under EU rules, the money should have been accompanied by a plan to make the companies profitable.

While Poland pledged to phase out the subsidies by 2014, the EU rejected the offer as too late and unfair because competitors had already been forced to undertake "painful restructuring," said Jonathan Todd, a spokesman for the European competition commissioner, Neelie Kroes.

Industrial Union of Donbass, based in the eastern Ukraine city of Donetsk, in October stepped in with an offer to bail out the yard. Donbass said it may repay some of the state aid and pay €110 million to increase its stake to more than 80 percent. The EU has asked for the deal to be completed by February.

"I'll do all I can to ensure it is finished in February as the EU has requested, but we can't rule out a certain delay," said Treasury Minister Aleksander Grad.

Andrzej Jaworski, chief executive of the shipyard operator, Stocznia Gdanska, is counting on the sale to keep the slipways open and permit his company to profit from a boom in shipbuilding.

"Especially once the privatization deal goes through, better times are coming," Jaworski says. "There are a lot of commissions around, and we have the potential to get a large number of them."

Gdansk's recent successes have had more to do with tourism and amber than the shipyard. The number of travelers passing through Gdansk's Lech Walesa Airport, served by airlines including EasyJet, Lufthansa and SAS, rose to a record 1.26 million last year, five times the figure in 1999.

Walesa's 31-year-old son, Jaroslaw, is even training as a tour guide.

"We have to appreciate and respect the heroism of the people and their actions, but we also have to foster the development of our city and our country," said Jaroslaw Walesa, a member of Parliament from the Citizens' Platform party, which won national elections in October.

One of Gdansk's most important resources is amber, the fossilized resin that is found along the Baltic coast. The amber industry now employs 7,500 people, more than twice the number of workers at the shipyard.

Unemployment in Gdansk runs at 5.6 percent, less than half the national average and down from 13 percent three years ago.

"They say that many shipyard workers came over to work in the amber trade when they lost their jobs," said Ewa Rachon, deputy head of the World Amber Council, which is based in Gdansk. "As time goes on, I think amber will have a far bigger significance for Gdansk than the shipyard."

Wrona, the computer programmer, says he sees his future in Gdansk, even though many of his contemporaries have sought work in other parts of Europe. As for the shipyard that made the city famous, Wrona has a plan.
"It could stay as a museum, maybe," he said. "But not as a working shipyard."

Source: ByKatya Andrusz Bloomberg News


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Lenovo invests in Poland

PC giant Lenovo will build a computer manufacturing center in the Legnica SEZ

Chinese firm Lenovo, the world's third-largest personal-computer manufacturer, will invest over $20 (zł.49.3) million on the construction of a manufacturing plant in the Legnica Special Economic Zone in western Poland. Construction is expected to be complete by Q3 of 2008.

Apart from product assembly and configuration, the company's activities in Poland will include product distribution, logistics and value-added services. It is expected to employ 1,000 people by 2010. Production will be targeted towards the markets of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. The first year of operation is expected to see the production of some two million computers. After this, the plant will increase its production to five million units annually.

Lenovo employs over 23,000 people worldwide and has offices in 66 countries. In Central Europe it is present in Hungary, where it has a manufacturing plant, and in Slovakia, where it has a client service center.

Milko van Duijl, president of Lenovo Europe, Middle East and Africa said that the company was looking to invest more in the region since the company is "happy with [its] activities in CEE."

Paweł Olszynka, an IT specialist at PMR Consulting, was cautiously optimistic about the investment.


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Poland's PGNiG may delay plans to build LNG terminal - report

Poland's natural gas monopoly PGNiG might delay its plan to build a liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal on the Baltic coast due to failures to sign supply contracts, Dziennik newspaper reported, giving no named sources.

The paper said new Treasury Minister Aleksander Grad has ordered analysis of the project along with PGNiG's other major investment - the construction of the Baltic Pipe pipeline connecting Poland to Denmark.

PGNiG has planned to build an LNG terminal in Swinoujscie on the Baltic coast by the end of 2011 and receive 2.5 bln cubic metres of liquified gas per year as part of Poland's strategy to limit its dependence on imports from Russia.

The company has been looking to secure liquid gas supply for the terminal, which may cost at least 450 mln eur to build. But its talks with Algieria have stalled, the newspaper said.

'It takes between six and seven years to recieve first supplies (of gas) after the contract has been signed,' daily quotes ruling Civic Platform deputy Andrzej Czerwinski as saying.

'Without stable supplies it doesn't make sense to build the terminal,' Czerwinski, who is also a deputy head of parliament's economy committee, added.

Source: forbes.com

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Poland offers 2.2 bln zlotys of 2-yr bonds at tender on Wednesday

WARSAW (Thomson Financial) - Poland will offer 2.2 bln zlotys of its 2-year bonds at a tender on Wednesday, near the bottom end of its initial range for the auction of 2.0-3.0 bln, the finance ministry said in a statement today.

The ministry also said it sold 2.0 bln zlotys of its 52-week treasury bills at an auction today.

Investors bid for 3.3 bln zlotys of the bills, the ministry said, and it set the minimum price at the sale at 9,440.71 zlotys, with the average yield 5.740 pct and reduction rate 29.64 pct
Source: By Patrick Graham, forbes.com

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H5N1 bird flu found in central Poland, govt plays down impact

WARSAW (Thomson Financial) - Authorities have quarantined two poultry farms near the central Polish city of Plock after finding two cases of the deadliest strain of bird flu, known as H5N1, officials said over the weekend.

Farm minister Marek Sawicki said the producers affected would receive compensation for the killing of livestock in connection with the discovery, adding he expects the losses to be minimal, the PAP state news agency quoted him as saying.

Poland has reported bird flu cases in wild birds in recent years, but this is the first to hit commercial farms.


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