Romania: How Log Yards Hide the Destruction of Europe’s Ancient Forests

EIA report takes a closer look behind Romania’s forest industry
EuroNatur and Agent Green call for logging ban in all Romanian national parks

The new EIA report Behind the Scenes takes a detailed look at how the Austrian timber companies Holzindustrie Schweighofer, Kronospan and Egger continue to fuel the destruction of Europe’s last old growth forests. Holzindustrie Schweighofer pledged five years ago not to source timber from national parks or protected areas. The report shows how log yards hide the destruction of Europe’s last primeval and old growth forests in Romania…

EIA used Romania’s public timber tracking website, Forest Inspector, to study the sourcing operations of several Schweighofer suppliers as they cut wood in two national parks in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains. EIA visited these sites and documented large-scale, sometimes illegal, commercial logging in both the Rodna Mountains and Calimani National Parks.

According to data compiled by EIA, companies that supply Schweighofer have harvested at least 35,000 cubic meters from these two parks in an 18-month time period through June 2018. On-the-ground research tracked logs from these parks to local wood depots that supply Schweighofer. Schweighofer’s extensive sourcing from third-party log yards – approximately 45% of its Romanian log purchases – exposes the company to wood from national parks, as well as to illegal logging and other unsustainable practices.

EIA also found that other large multinational companies in Romania, like Kronospan and Egger, have similar sourcing issues. EIP points out, that the lack of real traceability to the forest origin by all these companies, in a country like Romania with an elevated risk of corruption, means that their purchases fuel the illegal and unsustainable logging that continues to erode Romania’s rich biodiversity and the economic future of its timber processing industry.

Romania’s Carpathian Mountains contain the majority of the remaining old growth forests in Europe. EIA: All foreign companies operating in Romania have a responsibility to enact real traceability for their wood purchases and to stop abetting the destruction of Europe’s last great forests.

NGOs EuroNatur Foundation and Agent Green are calling on the Romanian government to completely ban logging in all national parks and to improve implementation of its primeval forests protection programme. Only this would give the guarantee that destruction of Europe’s last large primeval forests is stopped. In all Romanian national parks large scale, industrial exploitation of wood is omnipresent. Almost half of the park’s surface is designated as “buffer zones”, which actually means: no protection. Both by the government and Romanian state forestry Romsilva, who are running 12 of 13 national parks, are continuously granting logging permissions in all national parks.
Also old growth forests are being logged with official approvals. According to the world nature conservation organisation IUCN the primary objectives of national parks are nature conservation, science, recreation and education. Thus the vast logging operations in Romania’s parks violate international standards. „Europe’s biggest nature crises in Romania will intensify if the Romanian government continues to ignore nature protection objectves and to primarily serve the interests of the logging industry,“ says Gabriel Schwaderer, executive director of EuroNatur Foundation.
Agent Green is filing harsh critique about the ongoing  delay of the full operation of the online timber tracking website “Forest Inspector”. All the planned expanded functions of the portal have been realized, but the Ministry of Waters and Forests has repeatedly delayed its full operation. The fact that the portal still runs with limited functions  allows the continuous degradation of forests, Gabriel Paun, President of Agent Green says.
“No promise and no commitment can be respected as long as the issue of log yards is not solved by expanding the functions of the forest inspector system by creating a real-time electronic register accessible to the public. The timber robbery has even scuffed the forests of national parks. Not even this 1% of the country’s surface that should have remained intact, is in proper shape” added Paun.
Protest action by Agent Green and EuroNatur in Romania’s wounded Domogled national park (May 2018)