EU Court to Rule on Immediate Halt to Logging in Poland’s Primeval Forest

BRUSSELS/WARSAW — The European Union’s top court will decide on Friday whether to order Poland to stop its large-scale logging of the primeval Bialowieza forest immediately, an attempt to save the trees as an EU case against Warsaw may take years to conclude.

A media spokesperson at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said the decision would come on Friday afternoon after EU’s executive Commission asked the court to swiftly prevent the logging of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed forest.

Brussels’ legal case against Warsaw is based on violation of the bloc’s wildlife protection laws. Environmentalists have responded to the logging with regular protests and UNESCO has appealed to Poland stop cutting down the trees.

The logging has also divided Polish society, as have other moves by the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party – from its stance on migration, to putting courts and state media under tighter government control.

Sources following the case in Poland said they expected the ECJ to grant Brussels request.

Poland’s Environment Minister Jan Szyszko – a hunter who enjoys the backing of forester lobbies – was quoted as saying on Friday more than one million trees must be cut down in Bialowieza this year because of a beetle outbreak.

Warsaw has increased the logging plans for Bialowieza since coming to power in late 2015.

(Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko and Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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