Complaint to the European Commission concerning alleged breach of Union law over logging Bialowieza forest

The Bialowieza Forest (ca. 1 500km2) is the last remains of primeval deciduous forest of the northern temperate zone in Europe. The Bialowieza Forest is divided between Belarus (ca. 870 km2, almost entirely protected as a National Park “Belovezhskaya Pushcha”) and Poland (ca. 630 km2). The Polish part of the Bialowieza Forest (hereinafter Bialowieza Forest) is managed by the Bialowieza National Park (only 17%) and the State Forests Service, a state-owned organisation (remaining 83%). The part which is managed by the State Forests Service of Bialowieza Forest is divided into three forest districts: Bialowieza, Browsk and Hajnowka.

The whole of the Polish part of the Bialowieza Forest is a Natura 2000 site (PLC 200004) and has a valid management plan since November 2015 which indicates that removal of dead and dying trees is one of the basic threats to different protected habitats and species.

The subject of this complaint is the approved logging on the territory of the Bialowieza Forest District. This Forest District covers 123 km2 and is 24% of the area managed by the State Forests Service within the Bialowieza Forest (and 19% of the whole Polish part of Bialowieza Forest). Accordingly, this Forest District is almost a fifth of the Natura 2000 site. The management plan is known as the ‘Plan of Protection Tasks’.

Each Forest District in Bialowieza Forest has had a 10 year Forest Management Plan (hereinafter FMP) in place since 20122. For Bialowieza Forest District the limit was established as 63 471 m3 of timber harvest over 10 years.

By the end of 2015, i.e. after 4 years of the current plan, the Bialowieza Forest District had already almost reached its harvesting limit for the 10-year period (over 96% exceeded) and therefore would have to abandon timber harvesting for the next 6 years.

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Published April 19, 2016
Found in ForestsNature DirectivesPolandPoland's forests