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Recent forest exclusion mandate could have serious consequences for the Polish economy

The exclusion of 20% of Polish forests from forest management, ordered by the Ministry of Climate and Environment, could have serious consequences for the environment and the economy, leading to an increase in the price of wood-based products and an increase in dependence on plastic. As a result, the green economy sector, which is the wood industry, which is already experiencing a serious crisis, will suffer.

Photo: Dreamstime

'We will be flooded by a wave of plastic and face soaring prices due to the exclusion of 20% of Polish forests from forest management', has been the response to the decision recently mandated by the Ministry of Climate and Environment. This move is anticipated to severely impact both the environment and the economy, triggering higher costs for wood-based products and escalating reliance on plastic.

Michał Strzelecki, director of the Polish Chamber of Commerce of Furniture Manufacturers, criticises the decision as lacking economic or ecological rationale, attributing it solely to political motives. He warns of widespread repercussions, asserting that abandoning sustainable forestry practices jeopardizes Poland's access to renewable wood resources, thereby dismantling a crucial sector of the green economy already in crisis.

Poland's forests, covering 30% of its land and managed by State Forests, provide substantial timber resources. In 2022, these forests yielded 45,693 million m3 of wood, with the majority supporting industries like furniture, construction, and paper. Removing 20% from management equates to an annual shortfall of approximately 8.5 million m3, driving up wood prices and consequently inflating product costs across various sectors, including essential items like toilet paper and food packaging.

With wood being a renewable and biodegradable resource that helps mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon dioxide, its reduced availability may spur a shift toward more plastic-intensive alternatives. Given Europe's significant plastic consumption—50.7 million tonnes in 2019, predominantly in packaging—the environmental impact could be profound, exacerbating oceanic pollution and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions during plastic production.

Strzelecki urges the Ministry to reconsider its decision, emphasising the irreversibility of destroying a vital economic sector overnight without expert consultation. He stresses the need for a balanced approach that safeguards both environmental sustainability and economic stability, cautioning that hasty actions could irrevocably harm Poland's long-term prospects and environmental integrity.


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