Environment Min: Poland respects EU court's view on ancient forest

Polish Environment Minister Henryk Kowalczyk said on Tuesday that Warsaw respects the opinion of the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice, who stated earlier in the day that Poland's increased logging in the Bialowieza Forest breaks EU law.

In a statement on Tuesday, Yves Bot, the advocate general for the European Court of Justice - ECJ (which is a part of the Court of Justice of the European Union), said Poland's recent move to step up logging in the primeval Bialowieza forest, in the northeastern part of the country, is against EU law.

"Those decisions are necessarily liable to result in a deterioration of the breeding sites of the protected species," the official added.

The Tuesday opinion by the ECJ's adviser is the last step before the court makes its ruling, and the verdicts are often in line with the view of the advocate general.

The ECJ was called upon to resolve the overall dispute between the European Commission (the executive arm of the EU) and Poland over increased logging in Bialowieza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As an interim step, the ECJ ruled last year that Poland would be fined EUR 100,000 per day if it did not stop large-scale logging in the forest.

Poland had argued for a long time that the logging is in line with EU directives and necessary for nature protection, such as combating the negative impact of the European spruce bark beetle.

Commenting on Bot's words in an Environment Ministry statement later on Tuesday, Warsaw's Environment Minister Henryk Kowalczyk said "Poland is a lawful country and respects the opinion of the advocate general of the ECJ."

As the official added, the government will study the opinion in detail, "and I can confirm already that Poland will comply with the final verdict of the ECJ with regard to the Bialowieza Forest."

Kowalczyk noted that the ancient woodland is "exceptionally valuable" to the country and all the measures undertaken until now had been motivated "solely by a concern for preserving it in the best possible shape for the current and future generations."