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FSC statement on the Bialowieza Forest dispute between the EU and Polish authorities

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Dispute Resolution (© FSC GD)© FSC GD
Dispute Resolution

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is closely following the situation between the European Commission and the Polish authorities regarding harvesting activities in parts of the Bialowieza Forest

While the forest areas that are subject to logging are not FSC certified, our organization is concerned about the potential negative effects that increased sanitary cuttings in the forest districts of Browsk, Bialowieza and Hajnowka, alleged as necessary by the Polish authorities, could have on existing high conservation value (HCV) forests.

The emergency ban on logging imposed by the European Court of Justice shows that there is a risk that further logging activities in these forest districts of the Bialowieza Forest constitute a violation of EU legislation to protect biodiversity. To this effect, FSC has requested the forest management authorities of Poland to provide relevant information about their logging activities in the region to assess if the material originating from the area could still meet controlled wood requirements.

As a precautionary measure, FSC has notified certification bodies to inform their clients (certificate holders) about the increased risk of not meeting FSC controlled wood requirements under categories 1[1] and 3[2] from wood harvested in Browsk, Bialowieza and Hajnowka forest districts.

Considering the current ban on logging and a precautionary approach towards avoiding unacceptable sources, FSC recommends that material originating from these areas is not used as controlled material or sold with an FSC controlled wood claim. Further advice on the Polish controlled wood risk assessment will be dependent on the resolution of the dispute between the European Court of Justice and the Polish Authorities.

FSC will continue to closely monitor the development of this issue and any formal changes to this assessment will be communicated accordingly.

[1] Illegally Harvested wood
[2] Wood harvested from forest in which high conservation values are threatened by management activities


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