For over a dozen years now, foresters have been redeveloping the Polish woodland. They have altered its species composition, for example planting beeches and oaks, more resistant to increasing climate change than the Scots pine or Norway spruce. The activities aim to maintain the biodiversity of forest ecosystems. At the same time timber extraction, i.e. logging, is continued. The process is known for short as sustainable forest management.
Academic curricula at forestry departments include courses in timber transport, logging, forest economics and hunting management. There are no classes devoted to the emotional bond between man and the forest or its influence on the human psyche. Perhaps that is why foresters often fail to understand this bond. The way woodland is perceived by man is a part of his identity and site of important memories.
A belief is gaining more and more popularity that up to 20% of our woods should be excluded from logging and left to nature. However, for almost twenty years not a single new national park has been established in Poland, and unique old-growth trees in such places as the Carpathian Forest are subject to the kind of forest management whose main priority is the acquisition of timber, resulting in environmental degradation.
The new plantings of around 500 million trees a year cannot realistically offset the effects of logging or reestablish the damaged ecosystems.
Michal Luczak, born in 1983, photographer, visual artist, curator. Works mainly with photography and video. Graduate of the Institute of Creative Photography at the University of Silesia in Opava in Czechia and hispanic studies at the University of Silesia in Katowice. Since 2010 he has been a part of the Sputnik Photos collective. He co-leads a year-long workshop on documentary photography called Sputnik Photos Mentoring Programme and teaches at the Faculty of Art of the Pedagogical University in Krakow.
In recent years, he has focused on the complicated and mercenary relationship between humans, their immediate surroundings and the natural environment. He does not look very far away, his latest works focus on local problems, which can also be seen universally: the consequences of the coal industry or the economic treatment of forests.
He is the author of photographic books: Brutal (2012), Koło miejsca / Elementarz (with Krzysztof Siwczyk, 2016), 11.41 (with Filip Springer, 2016). His works were awarded in such competitions as Magnum Expression Award, Mio Photo Award and Photographic Publication of the Year. Scholarship holder of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the Young Poland programme. As a part of Sputnik Photos he exhibited at the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw; Arsenal Art Gallery in Białystok; Günter Grass Gallery in Gdańsk; Mai Mano House in Budapest; Fotodok in Utrecht. Author of solo exhibitions in the RE – MOCAK Gallery in Cracow; Art Reading Room – Museum in Gliwice; Miejsce przy Miejscu Gallery in Wrocław and the Silesian Museum.