Photo of orange leaf trees to illustrate story saying Polish Environment Minister misleads peers on Białowieża Forest

Polish Environment Minister misleads peers on Białowieża Forest

The Polish Environment Minister has written to environment ministers from the other 27 EU countries on Białowieża Forest, which is the focus of an ongoing infringement proceeding from the Commission.

His letter contains multiple inaccurate or misleading statements, including:

1 – Logging will protect the forest.

This has been strongly rejected by the majority of Polish and international scientists.

2 – Spruce decline covers 30% of the forest.

In fact, only 15% of spruce trees – or 5% of all trees in the forest – are affected.

3 – The Commission is not very concerned about the situation

On 8 January 2016, the Commission said it was “deeply concerned” about the Polish Government’s forest management plan. In July 2016 it launched an infringement proceeding.

ClientEarth Lawyer Agata Szafraniuk said: “It’s very ironic that the Polish Minister of the Environment asked the EU institutions to support actions that breach the EU law and led the European Commission to start an infringement procedure.”

In April 2016, ClientEarth and other campaigners asked the Commission to investigate the Polish Government’s illegal plans to triple logging in some parts of Białowieża Forest.

The area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Europe’s last primeval forest. It is home to many rare birds, animals and plants, and more than 160,000 Polish people signed a petition to protect the forest within weeks of the government unveiling its logging plan.

EU policymakers discussed the illegal logging plans last month, which shows how concerned they are about the fate of this unique woodland.

Read the letter from the Polish Environment Minister, titled Natural resources management on the example of Białowieża Forest: repercussions for Europe

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Dan Musat