The Polish government has directed a state-run forestry company overseeing more than 7 million hectares of national forests to cease logging activities in ten of the most esteemed forest areas across the country. This decision follows growing public sentiment, with 75% of Poles expressing the belief that logging activities should be reduced.

Climate Minister Paulina Hennig-Kloska announced the decision during a press briefing on Monday, stating, “We have decided to stop logging in the most valuable forest areas. It’s time to get saws out of the Polish forests.” The minister clarified that this measure would be in effect for six months and is viewed as an initial step towards a broader systemic solution aimed at further restricting logging in these precious woodlands.

The ten designated locations include the Carpathian Forest in the southeastern part of Poland, as well as Augustow and Knyszyn Forest in the northeast. These measures will impact approximately 1.5% of the woodlands managed by state forests. Hennig-Kloska emphasized the ministry’s commitment to supporting the expansion of existing national parks and the establishment of new ones, with a particular focus on the Carpathian Forest.

This decision comes in response to the collective call from over 100 environmental groups last month, urging a moratorium on logging in Poland’s oldest and most valuable forests. Prime Minister Donald Tusk, echoing the sentiments of the majority, has consistently pledged to enhance the protection of woodlands.

Poland’s recent history with logging controversies includes a temporary halt to large-scale logging in the ancient Bialowieza Forest following a 2018 ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that deemed it in violation of environmental laws. However, the country later attempted to resume logging in the UNESCO World Heritage site, leading to another ECJ verdict last year that found Polish forestry law breaching European Union law.

The Bialowieza Forest, which straddles the border with Belarus, had been a focal point of tensions between Poland and the European Union between 2016 and 2018. In 2022, UNESCO urged Poland to delay the construction of a border barrier with Belarus running through the Bialowieza Forest until it could demonstrate that it would not harm local wildlife.

The latest directive from the Polish government signals a proactive effort to address environmental concerns and aligns with the broader global trend of prioritizing conservation efforts to preserve biodiversity and fragile ecosystems.


Photo: alskikof via flicker