EC motions for penalty for Poland over logging
PR dla Zagranicy
The European Commission has put forward a motion to the EU Court of Justice for a penalty for Warsaw over allegedly ignoring a ban on extensive logging operations in the Białowieża forest, eastern Poland.
On Monday, EC representative Katarzyna Hermann argued that the Polish authorities have infringed an interim ban on logging in the primaeval forest.
“The evidence is irrefutable,” she said, pointing to satellite pictures and images of the old-growth forest.
Polish Environment Minister Jan Szyszko, in turn, put forward a motion calling on the European Court of Justice to revoke its injunction to suspend logging in Białowieża.
Szyszko argued that Poland respected EU regulations. “We have fully complied with [the court’s July] ruling to suspend logging,” Szyszko said, adding that current operations were solely aimed at ensuring public safety.
The European Commission, which launched legal action against Poland, says the mass felling operations pose a risk of irreversible damage to the last remaining old-growth forest in Europe, a UNESCO-listed site.
The Polish authorities maintain that logging is indispensable in the forest to protect habitats from the bark beetle. “Species diversity [in the Białowieża forest] is a treasure we need to protect,” Szyszko told the court.
Last year, the Polish government increased logging operations threefold in the area, citing a bark beetle infestation.
Meanwhile, Hermann told the European Court of Justice that the logging was not aimed at eliminating the beetle outbreak, claiming that century-old, healthy spruce trees were also being cut down.
According to Hermann, Poland broke the court ban in over 100 spots. The EU representative added that timber had also been removed in protected habitats.
A protest organised by the Polish chapter of Greenpeace was held outside the EU Court of Justice on Monday. (aba/pk)
Source: IAR, PAP