UN advisors have called on the Polish government to allow officials to check whether illegal logging means Bialowieza forest should go on the World Heritage in Danger list.
Advisors from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which helps UNESCO make decisions about its world heritage protection, published their latest conclusions on Friday 2nd June.
They are extremely critical of the intense logging in Bialowieza, and accuse Polish authorities of exaggerating safety threats as an excuse to log more trees. They call on the government to stop commercial timber harvesting in Bialowieza Forest immediately.
ClientEarth lawyer Agata Szafraniuk said: “For the second year in a row, UNESCO advisors warned that the Polish government has not assessed the impact such intense logging would have on the unique features of the forest, which are the reason it was added to the World Heritage List. Nevertheless, the forest authorities went ahead with felling.
“Continuation of logging can have very serious consequences, including putting Bialowieza Forest on the List of World Heritage in Danger. This is the first step to removing its UNESCO status.”
Bialowieza is the oldest forest in Europe, home to many rare birds, animals and plants. The Polish government’s decision to massively increase logging in the unique site breaches EU nature law, and is being investigated by the European Commission after a complaint from ClientEarth and six other campaign groups.
The report comes a week after the 27 May deadline for the Polish government to reply to the European Commission’s final warning over the illegal tripling of logging in Europe’s last primeval forest. The Polish Environment Minister had to justify why he decided to permit logging that breaches EU laws. The European Commission received the answer on time, the Polish Press Agency reports, and will say whether it is referring the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union in the next few weeks.
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