Forest protectors call for a logging moratorium in primary forests and urge the Government to prevent a new law abolishing fines for primary forest destruction
Vidraru, Fagaras Mountains, Romania, March 10, 2017: 30 paradise forest protectors from six EU countries including scientists and mountaineers stopped logging trucks this morning preventing them from transporting virgin forest timber out of the Vidraru basin. The area is one of Europe’s most valuable stands of primary forests remains. The forest protectors installed special rescue tents to occupy trees and unfolded large banners stating: “Save Europe’s last Paradise Forests”.
Agent Green, EuroNatur, scientists and Romanian mountaineers call on the Romanian Government to immediately establish a logging moratorium for all potential primary forests, in particular on state property and in national parks.
Gabriel Paun, CEO of the environmental NGO Agent Green said: “We urge the Ministry for Waters and Forestry to make this topic the priority of year 2017!”
“As an initiator of the inclusion of Europe’s last virgin beech forests into the UNESCO World Heritage list, I stand for these last paradise forests – not only with my scientific work, but today also with my own body at the site of destruction. These forests are of an outstanding global natural heritage and must not be destroyed”, said Professor Hannes Knapp from Germany, member of the Presiding Committee of the EuroNatur Foundation.
Two thirds of Europe’s last primary forests are found in Romania. An inventory of the last virgin forests, published in the year 2004 by independent researchers, identified more than 200.000 hectares of primary woodlands. However, in the last 12 years many thousands of hectares of paradise forests have been logged down, to a large extent illegally. The Romanian government has not taken sufficient action to stop this environmental disaster. Today it is unclear how much primary forest is still left, because recent Governments have not been monitoring the development thoroughly.
The remote Fagaras mountain range is one of Europe’s most important wilderness hot spots. According to a field inventory by Greenpeace in 2016 more than a third of the old growth forests in upper Vidraru area have been destroyed in the past years. Forests around Vidraru lake were preserved well until the most recent logging campaigns because of national security interests: they play a vital role in the protection of the Vidraru hydro-energetic complex. Thus the progressing forest destruction also poses a severe risk to humans.
“We are deeply concerned. We cannot afford to lose another hectare of these last paradise places. Maybe the Government will finally take action now as that abusive logging is also threatening national security. We will stay here until the forest minister, Mrs. Adriana Petcu, commits to primary forest protection”, said Gabriel Paun.
“Most EU countries realised too late the crucial importance of primary forests for the future of life. Now almost all of them are gone. Our research team has been conducting scientific studies in numerous Romanian paradise forests. With our research we also want to support preserving what remains in Romania. Each year, we bear witness to massive forest destruction. This destruction must end now! We should not lose the life’s bridge between the past and the future,” said Martin Mikoláš of the Faculty of Forestry and Wood Sciences, Czech University of Life Sciences.
“Like many other colleagues I trained in the wilderness of these mountains to become one of Romania’s leading professional mountaineers, reaching unexplored peaks of the Himalayas. I join the forest protectors today to help save what’s left of this paradise that we are so proud of”, said Zsolt Torok, the Romanian mountaineer of the year 2016.
Despite the strong civil society anti corruption protests which have been evolving in Romania since several weeks there has been an lobby initiative by forest owners and forest industry in the Romanian parliament recently to decriminalise – among others – logging of primary forests. Agent Green, EuroNatur and the forest protectors urge both the Romanian Government and the political parties in the Parliament to halt that disastrous law, which would accelerate forest destruction and add to the reputation damage of the Romanian State. Instead of widening the road for illegal forest destruction the fines should be increased drastically.