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ClientEarth Communications

20th February 2018

Forests
Wildlife & habitats
Communities & forests
Defending habitats
Nature Directives
Protected Areas
Poland

Logging in Bialowieza Forest is illegal, says proposed ruling

The Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the EU has today issued a legal opinion confirming that increased logging in Poland’s Bialowieza Forest breached EU nature laws. The final ruling will be published in a couple of weeks.

ClientEarth lawyer Agata Szafraniuk said: “We are not surprised by this important legal opinion. That has been our stance from the beginning. From the legal point of view this case is really very simple.

“The opinion by the Advocate General proposes a judgement in the case. Opinions are not binding for the Court but the statistics show that in a vast majority of cases, the judges follow them in the final ruling.

“The increased logging in the Bialowieza Forest breaches EU nature laws because Polish authorities failed to adequately protect rare and precious species in this ancient forest. What’s more, they even failed to assess what impact the logging could have on the unique nature of the forest, which is also required by the law.”

The story began back in March 2016 when Jan Szyszko - then Minister for Environment, dismissed last month because of this case - tripled the logging limits in Bialowieza Forest, despite warnings from scientists all over Europe that it would be very harmful for this forest. ClientEarth together with six other organisations filed a complaint to the European Commission. The Commission acted very quickly, and in July 2017 the case was already at the Court of Justice of the EU.

“We hope that Minister Kowalczyk, who took over from Jan Szyszko a month ago, will put an end to the destructive policy of his predecessor and grant the whole of Bialowieza Forest national park status. This is the only way to properly protect it from damaging logging for good” said Szafraniuk.

Read the Advocate General's opinion: According to Advocate General Bot, the forestry management decisions taken by Poland concerning the Natura 2000 Puszcza Białowieska site infringe EU law

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