Greenpeace join protest against illegal logging in Poland’s ancient forest

Published by Lia Flattery on

September 1st, 2017

Greenpeace campaigners from across Europe have joined protests against illegal logging in Poland’s protected Białowieża Forest in violation of a European Court of Justice (ECJ) interim ban.

Activists from 12 European countries arrived in the forest in late August to support Greenpeace Poland activists blocking state-run logging machinery.

Greenpeace protesters chained themselves to harvesters, blocked logging equipment and carried banners this week in opposition to the continued logging.

Białowieża Forest is protected under national and EU law and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It contains some of Europe’s last primeval woodland and is home to the largest population of European bison.

Since May 2016, the Polish state has been carrying out intensive logging in the forest, raising opposition from international organisations, NGOs, scientists and activists.

In July, the European Commission referred Poland to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for increased logging in the forest.

The ECJ then ordered Poland to stop logging, except for when necessary to ensure public safety, while the court deliberated on its final judgment.

A number of environmental NGOs in Poland, including Greenpeace Poland, Wild Poland Foundation and Camp for the Forest, started protesting after their investigations indicated that trees that did not pose a public threat were still being logged.

Director of Greenpeace Poland, Robert Cyglicki, said that “European law is being laughed at” by the Polish government.

“Claims by the Ministry of the Environment that only necessary logging is happening in compliance with the EU Court of Justice decision, is a lie,” he added.

He called on activists across the world to join the “peaceful protesters” and “stand against the destruction of our common heritage and demand its protection”.

The activists are demanding that the forest be protected from the exploitation of “safety measures” as a pretext for logging, he added.  To achieve this, Greenpeace are calling for Poland to comply with the ECJ decision.

They also seek the establishment of a public safety commission to review the matter and for the trimming of any potentially hazardous trees to be carried out in a way that “mimics nature and leaves them in place for natural decay”.

In August, members of the European campaign group WeMove also joined protesters in the forest in a show of solidarity.

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Lia Flattery

Lía is a former writer and Deputy Editor at Trinity News. She also has a BA in History and English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.