European Interest

Poland’s take on Bialowieza dispute, absorption of greenhouse gases

Flickr/Francesco Carrani/CC BY 2.0
A European bison in the middle of the Bialowieza forest.

Poland’s Environment Minister Henryk Kowalczyk has said that Poland, not the European Court of Justice, should decide how to manage Bialowieza Forest – one of Europe’s last ancient forests

His comment is in response to the European Court of Justice awaited ruling on an EU complaint that Warsaw’s decision in 2016 to allow more commercial logging in Bialowieza Forest broke the bloc’s laws.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, Greenpeace and other campaign groups have said the logging allowed by Warsaw is threatening the UNESCO world heritage site and its populations of European bison, lynx and rare birds.

However, Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party insists it can manage its own resources and that the logging is needed to control a beetle infestation.

Kowalczyk told Reuters he expected the court ruling would focus only on how Poland had managed the forest up to now. He also said there is support in Europe and beyond for plans, backed by Warsaw, to let nations balance out their carbon dioxide emissions with absorption of greenhouse gases by forests.

The plan would be discussed, he said, at UN climate talks that Poland will host in December.

“The issue of absorbing emissions has its opponents, which is why we realize that these talks will not be easy. We will discuss this – first within the European Union,” Kowalczyk said.

According to Reuters, most countries want cuts in emissions rather than absorption, which is favoured by coal-dependent states like Poland.

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