In the opening chapter of his best-selling 2007 book "The World Without Us," the journalist Alan Weisman ruminated on a trip to the Bialowieza forest, the last remaining stand of primeval forest in all of Europe, which straddles the border between Poland and Belarus:
"Think of the misty, brooding forest that loomed behind your eyelids when, as a child, someone read you the Grimm Brothers` fairy tales. Here, ash and linden trees tower nearly 150 feet, their huge canopies shading a moist, tangled understory of hornbeams, ferns, swamp alders and crockery-sized fungi.
"Oaks, shrouded with half a millennium of moss, grow so immense here that great spotted woodpeckers store spruce cones in their three-inch-deep bark furrows. The air, thick and cool, is draped with silence that parts briefly for a nutcracker`s croak, a pygmy owl`s low whistle, or a wolf`s wail, then returns to stillness."
The chapter describes a decades-long struggle to fully protect ...