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FILE PHOTO: Environmental activists chain themselves to a logging machine during an action in the defence of one of the last primeval forests in Europe, Bialowieza forest, Poland May 24, 2017. Banners read "Stop Logging Bialowieza Forest" and "Save Bialowieza Forest". REUTERS/Kacper Pempel


By Robert-Jan Bartunek

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission demanded Poland cut back logging in its ancient Bialowieza Forest, saying it has sought a court order for an immediate halt to the activity.

Bialowieza Forest, located on Poland's eastern border with Belarus, is one of the last and largest remaining areas of the primeval forest that once covered much of Europe.

"As logging operations have started on a significant scale, the Commission is also requesting the Court for interim measures compelling Poland to suspend the works immediately," the EU executive said in a statement on Thursday.

"For some of these species, the Bialowieza Forest is the most important or the last remaining site in Poland," it said.

Tripling the quota of wood that can be harvested, the Polish government has argued that the logging is needed to protect against beetles.

The confrontation over Bialowieza Forest is the latest clash between Brussels and Warsaw's eurosceptic government.

The Commission last month launched infringement proceedings over its refusal to take in asylum seekers who come ashore in Italy and Greece and is also demanding the Polish government change legislation which Brussels says harms democratic institutions.

(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by Foo Yun Chee)