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Poland will not agree to the introduction into national law of the possibility of paralysing forest management. The State Forests has stressed that the European Commission’s complaint, which was upheld by the CJEU, is yet another attempt to block Poland’s competitive timber industry, which could lead to its collapse and, as a result, a sudden spike in unemployment in rural areas and a drastic increase in the price of wood products.
Forest management provides hundreds of thousands of jobs and contributes 3% of the Gross Domestic Product, being one of the most important branches of the entire Polish economy. It has been run by experienced foresters for decades sustainably and responsibly, providing the Polish timber industry with the highest quality raw material at stable prices – making it competitive on global markets – while ensuring the continued growth of forest areas and guaranteeing environmental protection.
The European Commission’s complaint, which was upheld by the CJEU, is based on reports from three environmental organisations alleging that Poland lacks standards of nature protection in forest management, as well as lacks the right to challenge forest management plans.
The organisation pinpoints that the first allegation is without merit, as the legislation that raised the environmentalists’ concerns was repealed a year ago, of which the European Commission was informed, and the current law protects nature to an extent that even exceeds EU standards.
Polish law also does not restrict public access to the procedure for developing forest management plans. More than 90 per cent of the comments made by local communities, NGOs or local governments are taken into account during mandatory public consultations.
There are also proceedings before the civil courts concerning forest management plans, so access to the courts is also ensured. In the current state of the law, plaintiffs have to credibly justify their lawsuits, indicating what real danger to nature the implementation of the adopted forest management plan entails. Changing Polish law following the CJEU judgment would mean that plans could be challenged without such justification, which in practice would lead to the paralysis of forest management throughout the country and the consequent collapse of the Polish timber industry.
It is worth noting at this point that Germany and Austria, for example, cannot challenge forest management plans before the courts at all.