To stop Poland from logging in one of Europe’s last remaining ancient forests, the European Commission will take the country to the European Court of Justice.
The 8,000-year-old Bialowieza Forest is home to rare creatures such as the European bison and dozens of important plant and animal species, but is prone to infestations from the spruce bark beetle, a destructive pest that can fell healthy trees.
Last year, Polish authorities approved a plan that would allow a threefold increase in logging in the forest.
As reported by The Financial Times, Polish officials argue the logging is necessary to protect the forest from the beetle.
Poland’s environment ministry said it welcomed the move to take the matter to the European Court of Justice. It added that its minister, Jan Szyszko, “has repeatedly emphasised that it is a great pleasure to appear before the ECJ, where he will present evidence showing that the actions taken in the Bialowieza Primeval Forest are legal”.
In a separate report, the BBC noted that the European Commission’s move comes a day after Poland’s government drew strong criticism from EU officials and human rights campaigners over a new law on appointing judges.
Parliament, instead of judges themselves, will have the power to select 15 of the 25 judges on the National Council of the Judiciary (KRS), whose role is to guarantee judicial independence. Critics see it as a politicisation of the justice system, undermining the separation of powers.