Polish environment minister urged to save ancient forest

By agency reporter
February 19, 2018

Poland’s new environment minister Henryk Kowalczyk has been urged to save Bialowieza Forest, which was threatened by his predecessor.

On 16 February 2018, ClientEarth and six other ecological organisations met with Kowalczyk who has replaced Jan Szyszko, who triggered a row with the European Commission over an illegal threefold increase in logging in Bialowieza, one of the most precious forests in Europe.

The groups presented the case for proper and lawful protection of the unique Bialowieza Forest. Agata Szafraniuk, ClientEarth lawyer said: “The Minister said he would listen to environmental NGOs and we are glad to hear that.

“However we are still waiting to see concrete actions and decisions to prove that Bialowieza Forest will be protected from excessive logging and that it will escape the threat that the former minister, Jan Szyszko, prepared for it”.

One of the demands made by the ecological groups was to grant the entire Bialowieza Forest national park status. If granted, this primeval forest would be protected from excessive logging for good. Everybody would benefit from this solution, except for a small but strong lobby, which wants to transform the most valuable Polish forest into a timber farm.

“We are looking forward to seeing how Minister Kowalczyk’s declarations will be put into practice”, added Szafraniuk.

The case regarding illegal logging in Bialowieza Forest is now before the EU Court of Justice. On 20 February, the Advocate General will publish his opinion in the case and the final ruling is expected in March.

* Client Earth works to protect the environment through advocacy, litigation and science https://www.clientearth.org/

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