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Poland faces fines of 100,000 euros a day for logging in Bialowieza

Staff Writer |
Poland may face fines of 100,000 euros a day if it fails to comply with a ban on logging in the primaeval Bialowieza forest, a European Union top court has said.

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The European Court of Justice reiterated its July decision that Poland must stop logging immediately, pending its final decision on the European Commission's accusations that cutting down trees in the forest violates birds and habitats protection rules.

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.

He said Poland cannot be fined for logging in the primaeval Bialowieza forest because its forest management policies are not in violation of European Union laws.

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.

The court added that logging would be allowed only when other alternatives, such as temporary bans on entering parts of the forest, were not viable.

The court gave Poland 15 days to prove to Brussels that it was complying with the decision.

If the European Commission feels otherwise, it will be able to take the matter back to the court, which can choose to impose fines of at least EUR 100,000 for every day of logging.


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