Poland ignores EU Court and UNESCO, continues logging in World Heritage Bialowieza forest

Despite direct orders from the EU Court of Justice to ban all logging operations in Bialowieza forest, Poland continues logging activities in this unique UNESCO World Heritage. Beginning this year, the Polish government has allowed a three-fold increase of logging activities in one of Europe’s largest protected old-growth forests. The government claims it allows logging to control bark beetle damage and minimise risk of forest fire. The European Commission, UNESCO and scientist see that as an excuse for commercial cutting instead.

After the government approved increased logging activities the EU Court ordered to suspend all operations. The Polish government ignored the ban, stating all chainsaws and harvesters must stop immediately, intentionally. Poland is the first in history to openly ignore the EU Court’s ban. Consequently, this is in serious conflict with international European laws.

The European Commission requested the EU Court to fine the Polish government for ignoring the ban and continued illegal logging. The next weeks are crucial when the Court decides whether to enforce EU laws and continue protection of this World Heritage.

International cooperation needed

The Polish Bialowieza forest hold one of the largest primeval forests in Europe. It offers unique and unaltered habitats for a variety of plant and animal species, including the majestic European bison. The forest shares borders with Belarus, making international cooperation for its protection crucial. Increased illegal harvesting of trees would cause irreparable damage to the ecosystem. Therefore it is not only the EU courts responsibility to show Poland is making a big mistake. We need international cooperation of governments, NGOs, scientists and the general public to support this statement. Sign petitions, share the story, get involved.

Update: NGOs demand from EU Commissioner for Environment the ending of funding for Polish State Forestry Holding company until illegal logging is stopped and EU court decisions are observed. 

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