Poland's environment minister has approved a much-protested plan to allow extensive logging in Europe's last pristine forest, arguing it's the way to save it from woodworms.

Greenpeace and other environment organizations have called the logging a "black scenario" for the centuries-old Bialowieza Forest, which is on UNESCO's World Heritage list. It covers 1,500 square kilometers (580 sq. miles) in eastern Poland and western Belarus and is home to hundreds of wild bison and over 60 other species of mammals.

Following weeks of deliberations and protests, Minister Jan Szyszko said Friday he has approved the logging of some 180,000 cubic meters (yards) of worm-affected trees over the next 10 years. It is over four times more than in a previous plan.

No logging is planned in specially-protected Bialowieza National Park.