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Poland vows to keep logging ancient forest despite EU court ruling

2.8.2017- Poland said on Monday it would press on with logging the country’s primeval Bialowieza forest in defiance of an injunction by the European Union’s top court, saying it needed to cut down trees to defeat insect pests. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ordered Poland last week to immediately stop large-scale logging in the ancient forest, one of many cases that has pitted the nationalist, eurosceptic government in Warsaw against the bloc. Poland said it would keep logging in the forest, a UNESCO World Heritage site which straddles the border between Poland and Belarus and is home to European bison as well as rare birds. “We are acting in line with the EU laws,” Environment Minister Jan Szyszko told a news conference, defending logging as part of Poland’s wider legal obligations to protect the forest which is suffering the biggest beetle outbreak in decades. “We have to fulfill the protective measures plan and this is what we are doing,” Konrad Tomaszewski, a representative of the state forest management agency, told the same news conference. The logging has triggered protests by environmentalists and raised concern in the European Commission, which has also started legal action against Poland over its judiciary reforms. The EU’s executive Commission earlier this year sued Poland at the European Court of Justice over the logging.Last week’s injunction was an interim decision in a case that could take years to resolve. Environmentalists say the beetle is only a pretext for Szyszko. They argue that he favors logging because it brings more revenues to the local community and helps to boost support for the ruling Law and Justice party.

Source : Agnieszka Barteczko (Reuters)

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