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EC threatens legal action over High Tatra logging

Specialists from the European Commission's Directorate General for the Environment have ended a three-day visit to Slovakia in connection with the controversial timber extraction from the Tichá and Kôprová valleys in the High Tatra National Park (TANAP).

The logging, before it was halted by the Slovak Environment Inspectorate, took place between April 11-26. The Inspectorate later decided that State Forests TANAP, which was responsible for the work, had not broken any nature protection laws.

State Forests TANAP explained to the commission that the wood, which came from trees felled in a violent windstorm in November 2004, needed to be removed because of the threat of bark beetle infestation, which could spread to living trees. It also noted that the felled trees posed a forest fire hazard.

According to State Nature Protection Agency representatives, however, the logging took place without proper approval and threatened the local environment.

Slovakia must now send a report to Brussels by the end of August to attempt to persuade the EC that the logging work took place in accordance with European legislation. If the EC is not satisfied with Slovakia's arguments, it will take further legal action, which could lead to the case being tried in the European Court of Justice.

The EC has already begun legal action against Slovakia for carrying out the logging work without assessing EU guidelines. It warned in a letter that both valleys are part of the Natura 2000 European network of protected land, and insisted that the area be allowed to recover naturally without human intervention.

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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