The EU’s top court Thursday ruled that Poland’s policy to allow tree cutting during birds’ breeding season was illegal, as it goes against EU nature conservation rules.
The European Commission took Poland to court in 2021, arguing that the government’s decision to allow cuts during the breeding season of protected bird species was in breach of EU nature legislation. The plans threatened and in some cases destroyed the birds’ habitats, it said.
Warsaw rejected that argument, saying that its national legislation requires forests to be managed sustainably and that its cutting policies were therefore environmentally friendly by default.
In Thursday’s ruling, the Court of Justice of the EU sided with the Commission and found that Poland’s state forest management plans failed to consider the impact on birds’ habitats and their conservation status.
The court also said Poland was in breach of EU rules guaranteeing access to justice in environmental matters when it prevented environmental groups from challenging the state forest management plans in the country’s local courts.
It’s not the first time Poland has been sentenced by the EU’s top court over bad forest management. In 2018, the court ruled Poland should stop cutting down trees in the protected Białowieża forest.
Thursday’s ruling requires Poland to amend its national legislation and bring its forest management plans in line with EU biodiversity conservation laws.