Commission takes action over illegal logging in Polish forest

The European Commission has started infringement proceedings against the Polish Government over illegal plans to log in Białowieża Forest. The Polish Environment Ministry has one month to respond.

The case could end up before the European Court of Justice, with hefty fines for Poland.

ClientEarth Lawyer Agata Szafraniuk said: “Starting legal proceedings shows the Commission agrees that the Polish Government violated the law when it decided to increase logging in Białowieża. This contradicts Polish Government claims that the Commission supports felling.”

The infringement case is based on a possible breach of the Birds and Habitats Directive, EU environmental laws that protect the most valuable natural places in Europe.

ClientEarth and six other campaign groups complained to the Commission about the breach, after their concerns were ignored by the Polish Government. The majority of Polish scientists agree that cutting more trees will not protect Białowieża, which is Europe’s last surviving primeval forest and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Commission opens infringement after visiting Białowieża Forest

The Commission launched legal proceedings after analysing documents from the Polish Ministry of Environment and environmental campaigners. Representatives also visited Białowieża Forest last Friday, where they met with the ministry, foresters and campaigners. The visit shows how seriously the Commission takes the issue, as this kind of mission is unusual.

The pre-litigation stage began today, when the Commission called on the Polish Ministry of Environment to cancel the illegal logging. If it does not, the Commission will launch a full legal case, asking judges at the EU Court of Justice to rule on the infringement.

Share this...
Share on Facebook! Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn! Email!

Lali Masriera

Related articles

More from or

  • Jan Szyszko

    Polish minister who ordered illegal logging of Bialowieza Forest dismissed

    Poland’s environment minister Jan Szyszko has been dismissed from his job. He was responsible for ordering a three-fold increase in logging in Bialowieza Forest – which ClientEarth and other environmental groups have fought.

  • winter

    2017: A big year for Białowieża Forest – and the battle to protect it

    We started 2017 determined to do all we could to help save one of the most precious forests in Europe, the ancient Białowieża Forest.

  • Bison to illustrate story about final EU court hearing on illegal logging in Bialowieza Forest

    Highest EU Court hears Bialowieza illegal logging case, hopefully for the last time

    The hearing that took place today at the Court of Justice of the EU should finally decide whether Polish environment minister Jan Szyszko broke the law when he allowed increased logging in Białowieża Forest. The verdict is expected in early 2018.

  • Poland, bison, and exemptions from nature protection laws

    ClientEarth is challenging two decisions allowing the killing of up to 40 bison in Eastern Poland. The European bison, an extremely rare animal, is under strict protection.

  • Follow us

    You can help

    Your support helps us use the law to protect your environment.