04:32, April 17 182 0 theguardian.com

2018-04-17 04:32:05
Poland violated EU laws by logging in Białowieża forest, says ECJ

The European Union’s top court has ruled that Poland violated environmental laws with its massive logging of trees in one of Europe’s last pristine forests.

The ruling on Tuesday by the European Court of Justice said that, in increasing logging in the Białowieża forest, Poland failed to fulfil its obligations to protect natural sites of special importance.

In a blow to Poland’s ruling nationalist party, which has also been accused by the EU of weakening the rule of law, judge Marek Safjan said the logging in the ancient forest endangered many species of birds and insects.

Poland had argued that felling the trees was necessary to fight the spread of bark beetle infestation.

Environmentalists say the large-scale felling of trees in Białowieża was destroying rare animal habitats and plants, in violation of regulations. They held protests and brought the case before the court last year.

Poland has since replaced its environment minister and stopped the logging. Warsaw has said it will respect the EU court’s ruling, which comes into force immediately.

If Poland fails to stop the logging, the government risks a minimum fine of €4.3m and up to tens of millions of euros.

More details soon …