The European Commission has told Poland to stop large-scale logging in one of Europe’s last primaeval forests and has sought a court order to make the country “suspend the works immediately”.
Białowieża Forest, a world heritage site straddling Poland’s eastern border with Belarus, is one of the last and largest remaining areas of the primaeval forest that once covered much of the continent.
UNESCO urged Poland last week to stop the massive logging operations in Białowieża, which started in May last year, when the government said it had authorised them to protect against beetles and reduce the risk of forest fires.
“As logging operations have started on a significant scale, the Commission is also requesting the Court for interim measures compelling Poland to suspend the works immediately,” the EU executive said in a statement on Thursday (13 July).
Białowieża boasts unique plant and animal life, including the continent’s largest mammal, the European bison.
“For some of these species, the Bialowieza Forest is the most important or the last remaining site in Poland,” the Commission said.
The confrontation over Bialowieza Forest is the latest clash between Brussels and Warsaw’s eurosceptic government.
The Commission started infringement proceedings against Warsaw in June, over its refusal to take in asylum seekers who come ashore in Italy and Greece. It is also demanding the Polish government change legislation which Brussels says harms democratic institutions.