If Poland does not comply with a ban on logging in the primaeval Białowieża forest, a European Union top court has threatened to slap it with a hefty fine of €100,000 per day.
The European Court of Justice reiterated its July decision that Poland must stop logging, pending its final decision on the European Commission’s accusations that cutting down trees in the forest violates birds and habitats protection rules.
As reported by Radio Poland online, the Luxembourg-based court also gave Warsaw 15 days to notify Brussels about how it planned on complying with the decision.
Warsaw claimed that logging was necessary to ensure safety in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed forest in Poland’s northeast, which is home to the European bison and a number of bird species.
According to Polish Environment Minister Jan Szyszko, a plague of the spruce bark beetle has compromised trees, which pose a threat to mushroom pickers and others who enter the forest.
Szyszko has also said that European Union allowances for logging in certain parts of the forest, such as near roads, was insufficient in Poland where state forests were open to the public.
But the European court said the immediate ban was necessary because logging could cause significant and irreversible damage to the ancient forest even before Brussels’ case against Poland is final.
In a separate report, the Reuters news agency quoted Katarzyna Jagiello from Greenpeace as saying that trees from the Bialowieza Forest continued to be “logged, taken away and sold”.
About 180,000 cubic metres were cut in Bialowieza Forest this year, equivalent to 400% of average annual logging volumes there, said Adam Bohdan from Wild Poland Foundation.