May 16, 2017 12:49 PM EDT
Poland's Bialowieza forest is under a great threat from logging. Should it continue, it would slowly give way to a huge loss of biodiversity, says the European Union.
However, Poland can scale the conflict over logging to higher blocs, says the Polish Environment Minister Jan Szyszko, according to Phys.org The European Commission had written a "final warning" to Warsaw, explaining that it would take some legal steps that would bring down the logging in Bialowieza.
This UNESCO World Heritage forest lies in the border area of Belarus. It is among the oldest and largest forests of this area. It is part of the Natura 2000 network of protected regions.
The primeval forest is among the last patches of Europe that have been threatened with Poland approving petitions for large-scale logging. Poland said that the reason was a bark beetle outbreak, according to EU Observer. Poland defended the logging, calling it "protective logging" that can ward off insects, road traffic as well as prevent risks of forest fires. It affirmed that the logging is important in order to maintain a balance between the commercial and conservationist requirements.
However, scientists and NGOs had charged that Poland was using it only as an excuse for economic exploitation. EU authorities last year had started a new probe. Green groups had agreed that Poland was violating the EU's habitats directive. This is a 24-year-old rule book related to the protection of the species.
"We are not afraid to take this dispute to the EU Court of Justice," said Szyszko. "We are simply defending the environmental law based on Natura 2000."
The EU's executive branch had given one month to Poland to address the forest issues. Otherwise, it could also get summons by the EU's top courts, regarding the "urgency of the situation."
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