Forest and Water Ministry must investigate law breaches by Romsilva and Forest Guards – Agent Green
Bucharest – The Romanian environmental organisation Agent Green published today hard evidence filmed earlier this month proofing abusive logging in Vidraru lake region. For the last 15 years many primary forest stands were destroyed by logging allowed by Romsilva and Ploiesti Forest Guard. Destructive logging involving large scale clearcuts and brutal logging roads has been taking place in both State owned and private forests.
The evidence of irregularities presented in videos by Agent Green include logging roads built wildly – involving European money – on steep slopes resulting in erosion, large scale cuttings, dirty streams, permanently full of silt and abandoned logs that could result in floods and land slides potentially endangering the large communist hydro complex of Lake Vidraru. Drone images published by Agent Green illustrate the massive size of the cuttings which were occurring in the past 15 years. In the year 2000 the majority of forests around Vidraru were still in a primary status playing an important role in the protection of the lake. 12.230 hectares of virgin forests were identified. As of today, most of the primary forests around the lake have been degraded or destroyed.
The whole Lake Vidraru area is part of the Natura 2000 site Fagaras Mountains. Article 6 of the EU’s Habitat Directive prohibits deterioration of ecological integrity of natural habitats. Large scale logging and degradation of virgin forests clearly contradicts with the objectives of the Habitat Directive.
“The evidence of Vidraru forest massacre which we publish today cannot be hidden anymore. The official reaction after the action by forest protectors last Friday of both, state forestry Romsilva and Ploiesti Forest Guard, as well as local police, shows that these entities must be investigated by the Ministry of Waters and Forests, the Public Ministry and the Interior Ministry for the suspicion of systematic ignorance of law and potential involvement with organised criminal structures. The fact that there is also a FSC certification does not mean that the cuts were sustainable,” warns Gabriel Paun, president of Agent Green.
Following Agent Green’s international protest on Transfăgărăşan, Romsilva and the Forest Guard limited themselves to superficial reactions about the status of one truck from the thousands who have taken wood from the forests of Vidraru the past 15 years. They refer to the fact that there are papers for a truck checked at Vidraru by Agent Green, although in www.inspectorulpadurilor.ro, an online forestry tracking portal, the truck did not appear in the system neither when it was stopped nor two days later. The reactions of Romsilva and The Forest Guard did not offer any explanation about the forest destruction disaster in Vidraru lake basin.
“Facing the situation on the ground we cannot avoid the reasonable suspicion that the experts of Romsilva and Forest Guard involved in the Vidraru case are not specialists in forestry but rather trying to whitewash law breaches which result in biodiversity loss and threats for national security. The Forests Inspector online platform is an extremely useful tool for civil society that is feared among abusive sectors in forest industry and instead of using it they would like it removed. The Forests Inspector must remain available and the ministry should improve it continually,” Gabriel Paun added.
“Romsilva and the Forest Guard (formerly ITRSV) were informed by a extensive study (Pin Matra project) on December 10, 2004, about the existence of large scale virgin forest areas in Romania. However many of these forests have been destroyed all over Romania in the past 15 years. Instead of proactively protecting these precious forests Romsilva and the Forest Guards obviously played a key role in their destruction. Last week Friday the ministry has sent the same Forest Guard for inspection who is responsible for the ongoing environmental massacre in the Vidraru area. That doesn’t make sense; the Ministry needs to set up this inspection differently. The evidence we present should be considered as a starting point for a large-scale governmental investigation,” Gabriel Paun concluded.
Agent Green urges the Ministry of Waters and Forests:
1. Suspend all logging in the catchment of Lake Vidraru
2. Conduct an extensive investigation with the Ministry of Interior and the Public Ministry into the case of virgin forest degradation, the Natura 2000 site and other protective functions of forests from the entire basin of Lake Vidraru, a strategic site for the national power grid.
3. Carry out all necessary studies in 2017 to include the remaining virgin forests in the Vidraru area into the National Catalogue of Virgin Forests as well as setting up a truly sustainable, close to nature forestry system for the managed forest area.
4. Establish a national moratorium for all areas with potential virgin and cvasivirgin forests and carry out the necessary studies to include them in the National Catalogue of Virgin Forests.