breaking news

Bill Cosby sentenced to at least 3 years in state prison

Top EU court: Poland broke law by logging in pristine forest


The European Union's top court ruled on Tuesday that Poland violated environmental laws with its massive felling of trees in one of Europe's last pristine forests.

The ruling by the European Court of Justice said that, in increasing logging in the Bialowieza Forest in 2016-17, Poland failed to fulfil its obligations under EU directives to protect natural sites of special importance.

Poland's environment minister at the time, Jan Szyszko, argued that felling the trees was necessary to fight the spread of bark beetle infestation. Heavy machines were used in the process, causing additional damage to the forest.

Poland's conservative government is involved in a number of disputes with the EU, including one over changes to the judicial system — an argument that has led Brussels to trigger a process that could lead to punitive measures against Warsaw.

In the forest dispute, the court said bark beetle infestation did not justify the scale of the logging, while Poland failed to ensure the safety of birds and other species in the forest. No fines were imposed because the machines have been removed and the excessive logging has stopped.

Environmentalists say the large-scale felling of trees in Bialowieza, which straddles Poland's eastern border with Belarus and is a UNESCO World Heritage site, destroyed rare animal habitats and plants in violation of EU regulations. They held protests at the site and brought the case before the EU court.

The chief executive of the ClientEarth environmental organization, James Thornton, said the ruling was a "huge victory for all defenders of Bialowieza Forest, hundreds of people who were heavily engaged in saving this unique, ancient woodland from unthinkable destruction."

Philippe Lamberts, co-president of the Greens group in the European Parliament, said Poland's government has "repeatedly undermined rule of law."

"I hope this ruling will at last convince the Polish government that they need to change course," he said.

In January, Poland replaced its environment minister and stopped the logging. The new minister, Henryk Kowalczyk, has said Warsaw will respect the EU court's ruling and will seek better ways of protecting the forest.

The forest covers tens of thousands of hectares (hundreds of thousands of acres) in Poland and Belarus, and is home to hundreds of animal and plant species, including bison, lynx, moss and lichen.

Its younger parts have been traditionally used to produce timber, a source of income for local residents.

The European court ordered Poland to pay court costs. It didn't specify the amount.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation & World

Bill Cosby sentenced to 3-10 years in state prison
Bill Cosby sentenced to 3-10 years in state prison

A judge sentenced comedian Bill Cosby to three to 10 years in state prison Tuesday, five months after a jury found him guilty of drugging and molesting a onetime friend in 2004. Judge Steven O’Neil handed down the sentence after ruling earlier in the day that Cosby, 81, is a “sexually violent predator.” The designation...
Brett Kavanaugh nomination: Trump accuses Democrats of playing 'con game'
Brett Kavanaugh nomination: Trump accuses Democrats of playing 'con game'

Controversy continues to swirl around Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in the wake of decades-old sexual misconduct allegations leveled against him by a pair of women. What was expected to be a simple nomination process has been mired by the allegations, involving incidents alleged to have occurred while Kavanaugh was in high school or college...
Mom charged after disabled son dies weighing 38 pounds
Mom charged after disabled son dies weighing 38 pounds

A Texas woman has been charged after her adult disabled son died malnourished, dehydrated and infested with lice, court records show. Alma Munoz, 47, of San Antonio, has been charged with injury to a disabled person, according to Fox San Antonio. Telemundo reported that Munoz was arrested Monday. Munoz called police May 27 to report finding her...
Firefighter leaves own wedding to put out fire
Firefighter leaves own wedding to put out fire

A volunteer firefighter didn’t let his own wedding stop him from doing his job. KARE reported that Jeremy Bourasa, an on-call firefighter in St. Paul Park, Minnesota, had his ceremony with his bride, Krista Bourasa, at his fire station. They lost their previous venue weeks before their ceremony date. “We talked about it, ‘What...
Recall issued for ground beef sold at Safeway, Target, Sam's Club, death reported
Recall issued for ground beef sold at Safeway, Target, Sam's Club, death reported

Fort Morgan, Colorado-based Cargill Meat Solutions has recalled about 132,606 pounds of ground beef products due to a possible Escherichia coli O26 contamination. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced the recall Sept. 19. The products were produced and packaged June 21, the USDA...
More Stories