Polish response to European Court of Justice


Last Monday Polish vice Prime Minister from PiS (the right-wing party in rule) expressed his opinion that the Bialowieza Forest should remain untouched and serve as a nature sanctuary. It sounded maybe not promising but hopeful, as it was the first public voice of a significant politician from the right side that was against the current logging.

However, the reply to the European Court of Justice that was sent on 4. Aug and treated by the Ministry of Environment as confidential, became known thanks to an anonymous source of one of the Polish news websites. And this answer, just like the illegal logging despite the EC’s decisions, is unprecedented.

The EC’s argument about the irreparable damage done to the Forest finds this response: „These are only hypotheses, drawn from some scientific studies, but anyway these are only assumptions, impossible to prove.” So, according to the document, the Court’s decision about temporary measures (i.e. halt to logging) is not justified.

The document also says that in sight of scientific opinions the activities carried out by Polish government to fight the bark beetle outbreak are not only in line with the European law, but even necessary for this law to be obeyed. However, these scientific opinions are not quoted or refered to in the document. (It should be kep in mind that: 1. Grand majority of most distinguished scientists is against the logging. Many articles, petitions to Polish government have been written concerning the destructive consequences of logging. 2. The logging is not to fight the bark beetle. Even the foresters deny it. The trees are debarked in the forest and the bark beetle remains where is has been.)

It is also stated in the document that without logging the condition of the Forest may be shaken and pose threat to human health and life. Even if there were more opinions against the sanitary cuttings than for, according to the reply, it is their quality and not number that matters. (And the quality is set by the Ministry of Environment and measured by the level of similarity to Minister Szyszko’s standpoint.)

The document also contains complaints about the arguments of the Ministry of Environment being dismissed by the EC and, thus, about the mirror of reality being distorted.

Finally, authors of the document estimate the damage that will result if the ‘helpful’ forest management actions are disrupted. The total sum is 3.24 billion PLN. In fact, the cost is based on the value of a cubic metre of timber that might be harvested from the Forest. At the same time the Ministry requests this sum from the EC as a compensation for losses.

The interrogation concerning the issue of logging is going to take place on September 11.