ClientEarth has raised further concerns today about actions being taken by Poland’s environment minister in the Bialowieza Forest.
It comes just 24 hours after the European Commission said plans for a three-fold increase in logging in what is Europe’s last primeval forest, could breach EU law.
Speaking at a press conference in Warsaw today, the minister Jan Szyszko, said that a “recovery programme” for the forest would begin today. It’s not clear what this means, but logging would be illegal under EU laws – according to environmental lawyers ClientEarth.
Agata Szafraniuk, ClientEarth lawyer, said: “The recovery plan that was discussed today at the press conference and that is to start today appears designed to mislead public opinion. It takes attention away from the key issue – the tripling of logging that was approved two months ago and which breaches EU law.”
Bialowieza “recovery plan” follows Commission confirmation it is investigating whether plans to log are illegal
It follows confirmation yesterday from the European Commission, at a conference in Brussels attended by Poland’s environment minister, that it was investigating whether plans for an increase in logging in Bialowieza were in line with EU laws.
The Commission believes the Polish environment ministry failed to carry out an appropriate assessment of the impact of more logging on Europe’s oldest forest, which is required by EU Nature Directives.
The Commission said that if there are no signs that the logging decision will be reversed, it could take further steps towards legal action – if deemed appropriate.
On May 17th, the Minister of the Environment announced that logging in Białowieża will start in ten days – which is this Friday 27 May. This means irreversible damage to the forest is imminent.
Yesterday, ClientEarth and the six NGOs which lodged a legal complaint with the Commission again urged the Commission to move quickly to protect this irreplaceable natural habitat, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has been supported already by more than 30,000 Polish people via an online petition.