The European Court of Justice has warned Poland that failure to comply with a ban on logging in the primaeval Białowieża forest will result in a fine of €100,000 per day.

The EU’s top court reiterated its July decision that Poland must stop logging, pending its final decision on the European Commission’s accusations that cutting down trees in the forest violates birds and habitats protection rules.

The Luxembourg-based court also gave Warsaw 15 days to notify Brussels about how it planned on complying with the decision.

But, as reported by Radio Poland online, Warsaw claimed that logging was necessary to ensure safety in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed forest in Poland’s northeast, which is home to the European bison and a number of bird species.

Polish Environment Minister Jan Szyszko explained that a plague of the spruce bark beetle has compromised trees and that this is a threat to mushroom pickers and others who enter the forest.

But the European court has argued that the immediate ban was necessary because logging could cause significant and irreversible damage to the ancient forest.

The Reuters news agency quoted Adam Bohdan from Wild Poland Foundation as saying that about 180,000 cubic metres were cut in Bialowieza Forest this year. This is equivalent to 400% of average annual logging volumes there.