Groups file complaint over Poland's ancient forest plan

AP News
Posted: Apr 19, 2016 12:04 PM

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Environmental groups lodged a complaint Tuesday with the European Commission over a Polish government plan for extensive logging in Europe's last primeval forest, saying they were forced to take that step after running out of options in Poland.

Seven groups, including WWF Polska and Greenpeace Poland, lodged their complaint, arguing that the plan violates a key European conservation law.

Last month, Poland's Environment Minister Jan Szyszko approved extensive logging in the Bialowieza Forest, in northeastern Poland, saying it was to help fight an infestation of bark beetle. Environmentalists believe that is merely a pretext for massive commercial logging and argue the forest can fend off that infestation on its own.

The forest is on UNESCO's World Heritage list and is home to hundreds of wild bison, over 60 other species of mammals and hundreds of species of trees, plants and lichens.

In a statement, the groups said they believe their complaint could result in the Polish government being fined heavily and taken to the European Court of Justice.

Robert Cyglicki, a signatory of the complaint from Greenpeace, said his organization joined the initiative after running out of other options. He said his group had sent protest letters to the government, scientists and lawyers had given statements and more than 140,000 Poles had signed a petition aimed at stopping the plan.

"Nothing worked. That is the reason why today we reach for EU law," Cyglicki said.