The Radom district stands by the Polish government in defense of forests!

The District Council in Radom, in a specially issued resolution, expressed its opposition to the attempt to transfer the field of forestry from the competence of the Member States to the competence shared with the European Union. Thus, it is the first local government in Poland that has provided such strong support to the government’s position. Its representatives encourage other local governments to take similar actions in order to guarantee the strongest possible social mandate for the defense of Polish forest resources. This issue was the focus of the conference held on April 24 in Jedlnia-Letnisko. “I encourage other local governments to also adopt similar stances. Such strengthening of this voice from the bottom up, from local governments, for our government, prime minister, minister, MEPs, deputies and senators, is very important” – noted Waldemar Trelka, the starost of Radom.

“The expression of objection is extremely important for the local community, because the area of forests in the Radom District is about 41,000 hectares, which is nearly 27% of the district’s area. It consists of forests managed by the state and private forests, supervised by the Starost of Radom, which cover an area of about 12,5 thousand hectares” – we read in the justification of the resolution referring to the decision taken during the meeting on January 24, 2023, when the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) of the European Parliament issued a positive opinion on the proposals of the European Parliament on the revision of the Treaties. Therefore, to Art. 4 sec. 2 lit. d) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the term “forestry” was introduced. The consequence of this action is the exclusion of forestry from the competence of the Member States and placing it among the areas where competences are shared between the European Union and the Member States. This opinion was supported by the votes of, among others, MEPs from Poland (i.e. Ewa Kopacz and Bartosz Arłukowicz from the Civic Platform and Adam Jarubas from the Polish People’s Party).

As the authors of the resolution of the Radom District Council emphasize, “further processing of this proposal will result in significant changes in the legal order of the Member States, including Poland”.

“It should be noted that under the existing provisions of the Treaty, competences shared between the Union and the Member States do not apply in the field of forestry. The expansion of EU competences in this case may mean that Polish forestry, and in particular the principles of forest management, will be decided by there will be EU officials in Brussels, instead of representatives of the Polish government” – state the councilors of the Radom District in the document.

It should be emphasized here that in order to amend treaties in accordance with EU law, unanimity of the governments of the Member States is needed, so theoretically Polish forests should be in no danger, but the EU institutions have proven many times that they have no hesitation to break treaties and act on their terms therefore there is a real danger of hostile attempts to take over one third of our country, which is forest land.

Clear position of the government: “We will protect Polish forests”

“We will protect Polish forests so that they remain in the hands of those who manage them best. If there is a vote at the level of Member States, we will certainly be against it. The Scandinavian countries and the countries of the South have a similar opinion. We will not agree to transfer any resources to EU management” – declared the head of the Ministry of Climate and Environment Anna Moskwa in the presence of foresters and local government officials.

“We want them to remain in the hands of those who manage them best. Last week I had the opportunity to meet the European Commissioner for the Environment, Virginijus Sinkevičius. I appealed for the attitude of the committee if there was a debate on the transfer of state forests from national management to European hands, for the proper behavior of the European Commission. The Commissioner was not aware of this initiative in the parliament” – she said during her visit to Jedlnia – Letnisko. The problem is that you can’t count on the good will of the European Commission – this institution has also repeatedly shown that it doesn’t care about the letter of the treaties and illegally interfered in Poland’s internal affairs. In this context, the decision of the Radom District to support the Polish government, and thus strengthen its social mandate to defend Polish forests, was an extremely needed initiative.

“There have been such tendencies in the European Union to take over more competences. The issue of forests is a perfect example of this. We know perfectly well that forest policy is the policy of each member state. It is clearly written in the treaties. Unfortunately, the conference on the future of Europe was held in a strange way It was supposed to be a show of direct democracy. So far, people have come to the parliament and told us how they imagine the future of the European Union. The advantage in this type of debate was dominated by extreme circles that demanded that forest management be the competence of the European Union. Hence the initiative of the Environment Protection Committee and opinion, and there is no doubt that such debates are needed so that we can substantively oppose these tendencies” – said MEP Zbigniew Kuźmiuk.

The fight is on for one-third of Poland’s territory

“Forests account for almost a third of Poland’s area. They are not only necessary a component of the balance of the natural environment, but also one of the most important branches of the national economy, which can be described as a flywheel of many industries. Thanks to the stable supply of wood and the effective policy of the State Forests National Forest Holding, the Polish wood industry constantly occupies leading positions in terms of production and export” – reminds the District Council in Radom in the justification to the adopted resolution.

“Another aspect that definitely distinguishes Poland on the international arena is the fact that almost 80% of forests are in the hands of the state. This justifies the state’s involvement in forest policy, which focuses on the proper use of their potential” – it adds. It also mentions achievements in this area, including the preservation of a high degree of naturalness by Polish forests, the maintenance of an appropriate degree of afforestation, as well as the maintenance of forests as habitats for many species of plants and animals.

“An attempt by EU institutions to enter the sphere of Poland’s sovereignty in the field of forest policy and an attempt by the European Commission to impose new solutions, undesirable from the point of view of the state interest, may bring a number of negative consequences for the Polish economy. They concern, among others, biodiversity, the possibility of adapting forests to climate change, as well as maintaining the domestic timber industry and services related to it. In the near future, we can expect a significant reduction in the supply of wood and a sharp increase in its price. In addition, destructive consequences may also affect countries that are not members of the European Union. Departure from forest management, may lead to a drastic increase in the afforestation deficit outside the European Union” – enumerate the authors of the resolution.

“Forests are not only stable ecosystems, but also valuable land and minerals contained in them. One must therefore be aware that the intervention of the European Commission in forestry may in the future extend to national natural resources, and the extent of these interventions may exceed the most daring predictions” – they observe.

“In the case of our area, even 50 percent can be excluded from use. Excluding some forests from use is not only the possibility of obtaining wood, but also mushrooms, berries, hunting, and even throwing bee apiaries out of the forests. The activities of the European Parliament have two goals. First thing, this is to neutralize the protests of some European Union countries regarding the introduction not only of the strategy, but also of the entire green deal package in relation to forests. The second thing is to introduce control by the European Commission over the State Forests, an organization that manages the largest area of public forests in the European Union. This causes anxiety not only among foresters, but also local governments, the forest industry and many other environments” – said Andrzej Matysiak, director of Regional Direction of State Forests in Radom, during the conference in Jedlnia-Letnisko.

“There are as many as 40,000 ha of forests in our district, which is about 27 percent of the entire area. Our local government has taken a stand in defense of Polish forests. I encourage other local governments to also adopt similar positions. Such a strengthening of this voice from the bottom up, from local governments for our government, prime minister, minister, members of the European Parliament, deputies and senators, is very important” – emphasized Waldemar Trelka, the starost of Radom.

The chairman of the Program Council of the Institute of Schuman’s Thought, prof. Zbigniew Krysiak also appealed for the involvement of other local governments in supporting the Polish government regarding Polish forests. “This matter has an extremely important economic dimension. Poland is a leading supplier in Europe when it comes to raw materials and wood. About 10 percent of the European Union market in various segments is held by the Polish wood industry, cellulose, furniture and paper. About 500,000 people function in the field of this industry. One of the important pillars is export. These forests belong to our Polish home. If someone entered your home garden and dictated what you should do there, you would not allow yourself to do it” – he noted.

It is worth noting that attempts by European institutions to take control of Polish forests are accompanied by a negative media campaign against Polish foresters. As a result, these people, so involved in the care of Polish forests, are portrayed by pseudo-ecologists as pests. The European Union itself, instead of drawing on the knowledge and experience of Polish foresters, tries to block the possibility of good practices conducted by them, which is served, among others, by the term “forest degradation” for planting and sustainable forest management.

Anna Wiejak

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