Romania’s state forestry agency, Romsilva, has auctioned an old growth forest with an average age of 210 years for exploitation right in the heart of Domogled – Cerna Valley National Park. Ironically, Romsilva is also in charge of national park management.
This extremely valuable and biodiversity rich forest with many very old trees should have been included in the park’s non-intervention area, the Romanian NGO Agent Green stated. Local farmers took out only selected branches for fire wood. They respected the very old trees and did not cut them. Therefore this forest is an example of low impact farming and coexistence of small scale farming and close to nature forests. Commercial logging plans of Romsilva would eliminate this unique cultural and natural area.
Just a few weeks ago, environmentalists raised the alarm because Romsilva had issued permission to log a primary forest in the upper Cerna valley. The forest is also located in the heart of the national park, in an almost untouched side valley – amidst large, intact ancient beech forests.
Ciprian Pahonţu, the director of Romsilva, has recently given a commitment to Agent Green to increase the non-intervention areas in forests of national parks. However, logging is allowed in more than 50% of the park, and each new logging operation in primary forest will justify new “conservation cutting” in the centuries to come. The current non-intervention zone of the park includes large unproductive alpine areas above the tree line, and many of the parks natural forests lack protection and are progressively being destroyed.
According to criteria by the international nature conservation organisation IUCN national parks should have non interventions zones of at least 75% of its territory.
Domogled – Valea Cernei is a designated EU Natura 2000 site, which says, that “Member States shall take appropriate steps to avoid, in the special areas of conservation, the deterioration of natural habitats and the habitats of species as well as disturbance of the species for which the areas have been designated, in so far as such disturbance could be significant in relation to the objectives of this Directive.” Progessive logging of large areas of primary forests is cleary a “significant disturbance”.
In the entire national park numerous primary and old growth forest parcels have been opened for logging in the recent years. Before the loggers entered, many of these forests met the criteria for virgin forests as defined by the Governmental protocols. It is obvious that these highly valuable forests do not currently have any protection status, despite the fact that they are in a national park and a Natura 2000 site.
Agent Green claims that the exploitation of old growth and primary forests – in particular in national parks – is a deliberate and irreversible ecological crime. Thus the Romanian Ministry of Environment must hold Romsilva accountable for the damage they have so far made and immediately prevent it from proceeding with and further primary and old growth forest destruction.