13 July 2017
The European Commission has today referred a complaint about ongoing illegal logging in Poland's Białowieża Forest to the EU Court.
The Court has also been urged to impose an immediate ban on cutting trees in the ancient forest, one of the most precious in the world, until the judgment is issued.
The Polish Minister of Environment has failed to reverse his decision to increase timber harvesting limits even though it's a breach of EU laws and is dangerous for the forest's delicate ecosystem.
Agata Szafraniuk, lawyer with environmental lawyers ClientEarth, said: “We are delighted that the European Commission has afforded this case such legal priority.
"Decisive and immediate action is the only way to avoid irreversible damage to this ancient forest. We hope that the Court of Justice will impose the ban on logging, as a matter of urgency, before breaking for the summer holiday, which starts on July 21st.
"This beautiful and ancient forest cannot wait any longer and illegal logging is taking place every day.”
The Commission has fast-tracked every stage of the infringement proceeding, illustrating the severity of the breach in the law and the high risk to Bialowieza Forest.
Last year, ClientEarth and six other campaign organisations complained to the European Commission about illegal plans to massively increase logging in the forest, after appeals to the Polish Environment minister were ignored.
The Commission started infringement proceedings, and UNESCO has also called for a halt to plans for a three-fold increase in logging as it may threaten Bialowieza's World Heritage status.
ClientEarth's work on this topic is funded in part by Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.