Poland broke EU law by logging ancient forest

The European Union's highest court ruled on Tuesday that Poland broke EU environmental law with large-scale logging in the Bialowieza forest, an ecologically important World Heritage site home to the rare European bison.

WARSAW (REUTERS) - Poland broke EU environmental law when it went ahead with large-scale logging in one of Europe's ancient forests.

The European Union's highest court made the ruling on Tuesday (April 17) in the latest in a series of disputes between the pair.

Bialowieza forest straddles the country's border with Belarus. As well as being an ecologically important World Heritage site, it's also home to the rare European bison.

Back in 2016 Warsaw tripled logging quotas and argued the logging was necessary to control a beetle infestation. But in its final ruling the European Court of Justice disagreed, deciding that Poland endangered many birds and insects with the logging.

Warsaw ignored a court order last July to stop immediately and carried on for months, drawing the ire of environmentalists, some of whom took to chaining themselves to logging equipment in protest.

The country's ruling Law and Justice Party has been at loggerheads with Brussels since it won power in 2015, including on judicial independence and migration. It stopped the logging this year as part of a broader campaign to improve ties with the bloc after two years of bitter feuds.

Poland's Environment Ministry says it will respect Tuesday's ruling but environmental groups say the damage has already been done.