EU Court of Justice orders Poland to halt logging in Bialowieza Forest
“This decision is great news for Bialowieza and the communities that depend on this remarkable forest. By ordering Poland to halt logging, the Court has recognized that these activities are causing serious and irreparable damage in this priceless site. Bialowieza must instead be safeguarded for future generations.
“We expect the Polish government to immediately adhere to the Court's order and stop the ongoing destruction of Europe’s best preserved lowland forest.”
The Court of Justice of the European Union decision requires Poland to suspend logging in Bialowieza Forest, except in situations threatening public safety. In practice, this means not only the suspension of the execution of the March 2016 decision by Poland’s Minister of the Environment, Jan Szyszko, to allow increased logging in Białowieza Forest District, but also a ban on removing old trees from the remaining parts of the forest.
The ban on logging will be in force until the final settlement of the case of Bialowieza Forest by the court.
To stop logging in the Bialowieza Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the court based its decision on so-called interim measures. This is an extraordinary legal instrument that suspends an action in question, with immediate effect. The court uses it very rarely - only in cases where there is a serious risk that ongoing activities could cause serious and irreparable damage.
The court's decision confirms what the European Commission, UNESCO, most of the scientific community and WWF have previously stressed: increased wood extraction, not a bark beetle infestation, threatens the protected habitats and species in Bialowieza Forest, and logging must be stopped immediately before irreversible damage occurs.