Ongoing chainsaw massacre in Semenic National Park

AGENT GREEN calls on Romanian Government to end logging in national parks

Resita, Romania – February, 2nd 2015

An AGENT GREEN investigation shows that 366.422 cubic meters of wood has been removed from Semenic National Park in the last 6 years (2009-2014). Romsilva, the national state forest manager, has earned at least 8,14 million euros from the sale of this wood.

A letter sent by the Ministry of Environment to AGENT GREEN shows that Semenic still has no approved management plan even though Romsilva has managed this park for the last 10 years. [Letter no. 16545 from 14.10.2014 from Ministry of Environment to AGENT GREEN]. On average, Romsilva has spent only 0.77 million euros to fulfil its management duties in the park in the same timeframe of 6 years [Letter no. 16545 from 14.10.2014 from Ministry of Environment to AGENT GREEN].

“The Semenic mountains shelter Europe’s largest remaining virgin forests of beech in a single area. This landscape is the last genuine example of how Europe used to look after the last glacial era. Surprisingly, the Romanian Government has done nothing to protect it and allows Romsilva free reign in the park”, said Gabriel Paun of Agent Green.

Recently, AGENT GREEN has exposed that the intention of Romsilva is to abandon the administration of four national and natural parks as they no longer bring enough profit from logging due to forest restitution to private owners  that leaves the state with very fewer forests in those parks [Note 4448 from 16.4.2014 Romsilva / Protected Areas Service regarding signing of additional papers to continue administration of national / natural parks by Romsilva].

“Making a profit out of logging in national parks is definitely the wrong motivation to manage a natural protected area. Romsilva exists to make profit. The management of Romania’s parks need an independent leadership with a pro-conservation profile,” said Paun.

Footage taken by AGENT GREEN reveals beech trees several hundred years old being taken from Semenic National Park to a timber sawmill in Bania, Caras-Severin County. This mill produces kiln-dried lumber and sends about 20 large trucks monthly to the Black Sea harbour in Constanta. From here the timber of Semenic leaves overseas to its final destination, Syria. The wood factory in Bania sends the sawdust of Semenic to Kronospan, the world’s leading manufacturer of wood-based panels.

“It is embarrassing that ancient trees from a national park are made into primary products for export. Romania earns almost nothing and exports jobs, not finished wood products,” added Paun.

Semenic is losing virgin forests and nature reserves. For example, 700 hectares of virgin forest in Cosava Mica that were scheduled to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site have been removed from the park, and will are being kept out of the park limits. [Article Romania Curata]. The destruction of Cosava has already begun, as satellite images show. The administration of Semenic National Park (Romsilva – Forest District Resita) also wishes to repeal the Groposu Natural Reserves (879 ha) and Barzavita (2293.8 ha), arguing that these reserves are already affected by logging and they should therefore be converted to forest gardening status.

“The ancient beech forests of Cosava, Groposu and Barzavita are being felled as we speak to achieve a robust profit for Romsilva. We hope that the Ministry of the Environment will distance itself from Romsilva’s objectives of full destruction of a virgin forest that have already started to face the chainsaw,” warned Paun.

The National Agency for Protected Areas (ANAP) is an old project by the Ministry of the Environment, which has been largely forgotten since 2008.

“Born by Governmental Decision in 2008 but marginalized by lack of enforcement, ANAP has the potential to become the sorely-needed independent body made of conservation specialists for protected areas. It should be a top priority for the Romanian Government to make ANAP operational,” concluded Paun.

AGENT GREEN calls on the Romanian Government to ban logging in National Parks, to make ANAP operational and to integrally protect Cosava Mica, Barzavita and Groposu inside Semenic National Parks.

Logging at the edge of Semenic National Park.
Logging at the edge of Nera springs virgin forest in Semenic National Park.