deer bialowieza forest

Polish government has 24 hours to cancel illegal logging or risk EU Court

The Polish government has 24 hours to justify its illegal logging in Białowieża Forest to the European Commission, or risk facing judges from the EU Court.

On April 27, the European Commission gave the Polish government a final warning over a threefold increase of logging in Europe’s last primeval forest. The increase breaches EU nature laws and poses a huge risk to the UNESCO World Heritage site.

If the Polish government does not provide a satisfactory reply within the one-month deadline – which ends tomorrow – it could be hauled before judges from the Court of Justice of the European Union. This is widely expected, because of its lack of cooperation since the Commission launched legal proceedings less than a year ago.

ClientEarth lawyer Agata Szafraniuk said: “A case before the EU Court of Justice would be hugely embarrassing for the Polish government. It would very likely end in significant fines, and taxpayers would ultimately have to pay the bill. In the meantime, Białowieża’s delicate ecosystem, home to hundreds of protected animals and plants, could be destroyed by illegal logging at any moment.

“The Commission must continue to hold the Polish government to account for flouting EU nature laws. This is the only way to defend Białowieża, and to show that environmental protection around Europe cannot be ignored on a whim.”

Legal proceedings over the illegal logging plan were launched in June 2016, when the Commission issued a letter of formal notice against the Polish government following a complaint from ClientEarth and six other campaign groups. It has fast-tracked the process at every stage, showing the severity of the legal breach and imminent threat to Europe’s oldest forest.

UNESCO has also called on the Polish government to cancel its logging plan, saying Białowieża should be allowed to grow with minimal intervention.

If the Polish government does not give the Commission a satisfactory reply before the deadline tomorrow, the Commission is expected to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU. This decision could come very soon, because the case grounds are already prepared and the legal proceedings have so far been expedited at every stage.

Join the legal fight to protect Białowieża Forest, and we’ll let you know what you can do to help. This is your chance to stand up to illegal logging and make sure people and the planet are put first.

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

Adam J. Lawnik

Related articles

More from or

  • Bialowieza Forest tree trunk

    15 judges at the EU’s highest court to rule on illegal logging in Białowieża Forest

    Judges from the EU’s highest Court have heard arguments from Poland’s Environment Minister and the EU Commission on illegal logging in Białowieża Forest.

  • Two orca fins in black water

    Can eco-labels really save our marine life?

    The EU and the UK have introduced new measures to stop the growing amount of plastics ending up in our oceans. But how much will this help the growing crisis affecting our marine life?

  • running in autumn forest for story saying interim fines requested in legal fight over Bialowieza Forest

    Commission calls for fines as European Court of Justice hears case over illegal logging in Bialowieza Forest

    The Commission has today called on the EU’s most senior judges to impose fines on the Polish side for illegal logging in Bialowieza Forest, as the European Court of Justice was deliberating whether an emergency ban on logging in should be upheld.

  • swans in the evening light

    Polish new Water Law remains detrimental for environment

    A new Water Law was signed this month by the Polish president. It is a response to the 2016 Court of Justice ruling that Poland had failed to implement Water Framework Directive. Although this new piece of legislation was meant to fully implement the EU law, it contains provisions that are likely to have a largely negative impact on the environment.

  • Follow us

    Newsletters

    Get our regular email newsletters, they contain the latest updates on our work as well as features and articles about environmental issues, science and politics.