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NEWS

Poland orders to halt logging in 10 oldest forest areas

WARSAW (Reuters) – The Polish government ordered a state-run company that manages more than 7 million hectares of the country’s forests to curtail logging in 10 most cherished forest areas, delivering on a campaign promise following elections last October.

“We have decided to stop logging in the most valuable forest areas. It’s time to get saws out of the Polish forests,” Climate Minister Paulina Hennig-Kloska told a news briefing on Monday.Hennig-Kloska said the ministry’s decision, to be in place for six months, is a first step before a systemic solution that will further limit logging in such woodlands.

According to public opinion polls, 75% of Poles believe that logging should be reduced. Prime Minister Donald Tusk has repeatedly said his government would boost protection of woodlands.

Last month, more than 100 environmental groups called for a moratorium on logging in the oldest and most precious forests.The measures concern 10 locations, including the Carpathian Forest in the southeastern corner of Poland as well as Augustow and Knyszyn Forest in the northeast. A total of 1.5% of the woodlands managed by state forests will be affected, the minister said.

Hennig-Kloska said the ministry supports increasing acreage of existing national parks and creating new ones, including in the Carpathian Forest.

While Poland halted large-scale logging in the ancient Bialowieza Forest after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled in April 2018 that it had broken environmental laws, it

started working on resuming it three years later.In a separate verdict last year the ECJ ruled that Polish forestry law breaches European Union law.

Increased logging in the forest, a UNESCO World Heritage site that straddles the border with Belarus, proved a major flashpoint between Poland and the European Union in 2016-2018.

In 2022, UNESCO called on Poland to delay construction of a border barrier with Belarus that runs through Bialowieza Forest until it can prove that it will not harm local wildlife.

 

(Reporting by Marek Strzelecki; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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