Logging by Poland in Białowieża forest infringes European Union law


In an effort to accommodate some of the European Union executive's recommendations over changes to the court system in Poland, the ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party recently came forward with a series of legislative initiatives to modify disputed laws regulating the work of the country's common court system and the Supreme Court.

Bialowieza forest straddles the country's border with Belarus.

Poland's rightwing government broke the law by logging in one of Europe's last primeval forests, the EU's top court ruled on Tuesday, setting up a fresh clash between Warsaw and Brussels.

"The court finds that implementation of the active forest management operations at issue results in loss of a part of the Puszcza Białowieska Natura 2000 site", Tuesday's press release from the Court of Justice states.

Warsaw ignored a court order last July to stop immediately and carried on for months, drawing the ire of environmentalists, some of whom took to chaining themselves to logging equipment in protest.

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A UNESCO World Heritage site, Bialowieza, which straddles the border with Belarus, is one of Europe's last primaeval forests and home to its largest herd of the almost extinct European bison.

Poland had argued that felling the trees was necessary to fight the spread of bark beetle infestation.

Warsaw in 2016 authorized a almost three-fold increase in logging operations in the Białowieża Forest district and also authorized logging in other areas.

Poland's governing party, the right-wing Law and Justice party (PiSin Polish), has clashed frequently with the European Union over a variety of matters including the apparent curtailment of a free press, stacking the judiciary and undermining other democratic norms. As well as being an ecologically important World Heritage site, it's also home to the rare European bison.

As an interim measure, the ECJ said previous year Poland would be fined 100,000 euros per day if it did not stop large-scale logging in the forest. The site encompasses about 876 square kilometers.