July 31 (UPI) — Poland’s environment minister on Monday said the country would continue logging trees in the primeval Bialowieza forest despite an EU court issuing an emergency ban on the practice.
In 2016, Polish Environment Minister Jan Szyszko approved a plan to harvest more than 180,000 cubic meters of wood from the area over the next decade, up 400 percent compared to previous plans.
The Court of the Justice of the European Union on Friday ordered Poland to halt the large-scale logging in the forest, a UNESCO World Heritage site situated along the border of Poland and Belarus. The forest is home to 800 European bison, the largest animal native to Europe.
The court ruling is a temporary measure until EU judges make a final determination on the legality of Poland’s logging plans.
But Szyszko said Monday it is complying with EU law in its logging plan. He said Poland considers the logging to be part of “protective measures” to stop a beetle outbreak in the region which can kill trees.
“The necessity to undertake these activities is due to very serious losses in habitats and species in the area of the Białowieża Forest, covered by the Natura 2000 area, which we have repeatedly informed the European Commission,” a statement from the Ministry of the Environment said.
The Ministry of the Environment said it would respond to the EU court’s ruling by Friday.