In pictures: Europe's last primeval forest

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image copyrightKacper Pempel / Reuters
image captionPoland’s ancient Bialowieza Forest occupies nearly 580 square miles of woodland across the border with Belarus.
image copyrightKacper Pempel / Reuters
image captionIt is the last significant stretch of the primeval temperate forest which once covered most of lowland Europe, and has survived for 8,000 years.
image copyrightKacper Pempel / Reuters
image captionHowever the forest is under attack from bark beetles that are eating its spruce trees.
image copyrightKacper Pempel / Reuters
image captionForesters and the government believe the solution is to cut down more trees in order to save the forest itself, and recently work began to remove infested trees along routes used by tourists.
image copyrightKacper Pempel / Reuters
image captionHowever environmentalists say that this is destroying natural habitats, while others have pointed out that the forest has survived past infestations and any intervention will be the end of the forest's natural character.
image copyrightKacper Pempel / Reuters
image captionHere a Laetiporus sulphureus mushroom grows on a tree in the National Park protected area of Bialowieza Forest. The rest is under the control of state-owned National Forest Holding.
image copyrightKacper Pempel / Reuters
image caption"The problem is that several years ago there was an outbreak of bark beetle and it got worse," said Anna Malinowska, a spokeswoman for National Forest Holding. "The only way to solve the problem is to cut down affected trees. This was not done and so the (infestation) spread."
image copyrightKacper Pempel / Reuters
image captionIt is home to wild European bison with the population estimated at about 800 and part of the site was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1979.
image copyrightKacper Pempel / Reuters
image captionA delegation from Unesco is due to visit the forest in the near future.