Brussels has warned Poland it must comply with a judgement from Europe’s top court that bans Warsaw from logging in the ancient Bialowieza forest or face further legal action.A spokesperson for the European Commission told reporters the EU was studying satellite pictures of the affected forest, and would take up the issue as part of its ongoing rule of law procedure against Poland if logging was still taking place.

Polish authorities last year approved a plan that would allow a threefold increase in logging in the forest – about 140,000 hectares of pristine woodland on the border between Poland and Belarus, parts of which are untouched by humans. Warsaw has argued logging is necessary to cope with a spruce bark beetle infestation.

However, the European Commission said the measures were “not compatible” with the conservation objectives of the site, and last month sought a court order to stop Poland from carrying out a logging programme in one of Europe’s last remaining ancient forests.

A spokesperson for the European Commission said on Wednesday:

The Commission is following the situation with great concern. If it is confirmed that that logging continues to take place in the Bialowieza forest, the issue will be taken up in the ongoing rule of law procedure with Poland because complying with decisions of the ECJ is an integral part of EU law. Poland will have to explain its position in front of the court.

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