The European Court of Justice: Poland has to stop logging in the Białowieża Forest

Informacja prasowa - 28 lipca, 2017
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has taken interim steps based on its conclusion that the continuation of logging in one of the last primeval forests of lowland Europe can cause serious and irreparable damage. The ECJ has demanded that Poland immediately halt logging in the Białowieża Forest.

Interim measures such as this are taken very rarely, and only when the ECJ deems them necessary for a case.

Robert Cyglicki, Director of Greenpeace Poland, said: 

“The Court's decision confirms what the European Commission, UNESCO and most of the scientific community knew and clearly stated: it’s state-sanctioned logging, not a ‘bark beetle outbreak’, that is the real threat to the protected habitats and species in the Białowieża Forest. Greenpeace, along with the I Love Białowieża Forest Coalition, expect the Polish government to immediately comply with the ECJ's order and stop damaging one of Europe’s most valuable natural heritages.”

The ECJ decision contradicts Polish Environment Minister, Jan Szyszko’s earlier statements that increasing logging operations in Białowieża Forest were in line with EU law.

This is a victory for Greenpeace Poland and the organisations which are part of the ‘I Love Białowieża Forest’ coalition. The coalition strongly opposes the Polish Environment Minister’s decision to build up logging operations in this ancient forest and demands the protection of the entire area of Białowieża Forest as a national park. Now Poland has to stop extracting old wood throughout the Białowieża Forest.


Notes for Editors:

On March 2016, Polish Environment Minister adopted a decision approving a modification to the forest management plan for the Białowieża Forest District, one of three forest districts in Białowieża Forest. The decision allows for a three-fold increase in timber harvesting as well as for active forest management measures in areas which were so far excluded from any intervention due to their nature conservation value. The Polish authorities have been explaining their decision by the need to combat the outbreak of the bark beetle despite the scientific evidences showing, that these measures are ineffective in complexes like Białowieża Forest. Moreover – as European Commission noticed, logging in old parts of the Forest are not compatible with the conservation objectives of the site and is likely to adversely affect the conservation of the habitats and species protected by the Natura 2000 site, as well as cause irreparable biodiversity loss. In addition, the decision to increase logging was preceded by an inappropriate assessment of the impacts of the measures on the Natura 2000 site.

Greenpeace is objecting the Polish Environment Minister’s decision since the beginning. Greenpeace activists, together with Dzika Polska Foundation provided Forest Patrols in Białowieża, which gathered data about logging in some of the oldest and environmentally priceless parts. Coalition of environmental organizations – Greenpeace, Dzika Polska, Greenmind, ClientEarth, OTOP-Birdlife Poland, WWF and Pracownia na rzecz Wszystkich Istot – was alerting that the logging is a breach of Polish and European law. It was one of the reason why European Commission started the infringement procedure over logging in summer 2016. On 13th of July 2017 European Commission takes Poland to European Court of Justice over logging.