Dan Pullan, our International Casework Manager reacts to today's great news from the European Court of Justice 

Some good news today – the European Court of Justice, which is the final arbiter of EU law, has judged that Poland is breaking the law by allowing a massive increase in logging in the primeval forest of Bialowieza, on the border between Poland and Belarus. If you read Martin Harper’s blog back in July last year, you’ll know that the international community (including the RSPB) has been lining up to protest against the threefold increase in logging in the forest, along with so-called ‘sanitation cuts’ to clear spruce trees affected by bark beetles.

The ancient forest of Bialowieza is more positive today. Photo credit Jarek Krogulec

Today’s judgement sends a very clear message to the Polish government that they need to stop the cutting and start managing the forest for its amazing natural richness, and not for short-term unsustainable commercial profit. The forest is protected under EU law through the Birds and Habitats Directives and is also a World Heritage Site. It is the last remnant of forests that once spanned Europe following the last ice age. We congratulate our colleagues in the Polish BirdLife partner OTOP and their allies for their success in a bruising campaign.

The European Commission’s swift action in bringing this case of environmental vandalism to court highlights the need for the formation of an environmental watchdog in the UK once we leave the EU. We need an independent body that will take on the role that the European Commission and European Court of Justice has now, advising and holding government to legal account if it breaches our environmental laws. We will continue to press the government to make sure that this is one of their priorities as they set up our post-Brexit legislature.

European bison living in the Bialowieza forest are safer today. Photo credit Jared Krogulec

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