Romanian State Forest Manager caught stealing trees from National Park

Ministry of Environment must put an end to all logging in national parks

Agent Green investigators have exposed the theft of trees from Domogled – Valea Cernei National Park by a Romsilva employee from the Baia de Arama forest district. Romsilva is the designated state agency managing all State Forests and 12 National Parks in Romania.

Romania hosts the largest share of the EU’s remaining primeval and natural forests. But these primeval and old growth forests, including in national parks, are being deliberately logged, degraded and destroyed. Investigators of the Romanian NGO Agent Green have discovered that forest logging within Domogled – Valea Cernei National Park has been undertaken by the national park manager who is supposedly responsible for their conservation.

Gabriel Paun, president of Agent Green was in the park that day. “I was in an area of the national park where old growth beech forest is found. I found loggers there even though there was no legal concession on that spot. Immediately I knew the logging was illegal. The biggest shock was that the thief was the one who should defend the forest from illegal logging: Romsilva, the state forest and park manager. The individual was using a local logging and transport company to get the wood out of the park. He was not shy to admit that the plan was to cut the whole forest”, Paun says.

Romsilva Was Caught In The Act While Stealing Forests In Domogled National Park from AGENT GREEN on Vimeo.

Agent Green and the German nature conservation foundation EuroNatur have launched the joint campaign “Save Paradise Forests” to call the attention of the international public to the colossal destruction of old forests in Romania’s national parks.

In this case, the illegally cut beech trees were loaded in a rented truck. The investigators followed the truck on the ground and by air with a drone to a log yard that is hidden in the middle of the forest. There the wood was transferred to another truck that is owned by the logging company. The trees were never registered in the official application and portal for wood traceability.

“We are dealing here with a clear case showing how one can easily cheat the system because its improvement is blocked by the current Government. Log yards are being used illegal wood and the Government tolerates this. Sadly, today we have caught in the act an employee of the State forest company”, alleges Paun.

The investigators contacted the police and sent all the evidence to the local chief of police who investigated the case further. In a letter [1] to Agent Green investigators, the chief of police concluded that the transport was legal. But the case was taken higher to the regional Forest Guard. Their commissaries identified the illegal logging area and the evidence was sent straight to criminal prosecutors [2].

“It is alarming that the people who should guard the forest steal from it, even from within a national park. We call on the Romanian Government to immediately halt commercial logging in all Romanian national parks. Those forests are part of our shared European heritage, their destruction is irreversible”, says Gabriel Schwaderer, CEO of EuroNatur.

Currently, none of Romania’s 13 national parks meets the international standards set by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) [3]. According to IUCN, the key principle of a national park is non-intervention and forest owners must agree to establish a national park and they should not be financially disadvantaged by the strict protection status of their forests.

EuroNatur and Agent Green call on the Romanian Government to:

  • Immediately and completely ban logging in all national parks and to improve implementation of its primeval forests protection program
  • Enlarge core zones, meaning non-intervention zones, of all national parks according to international standards and IUCN recommendations of at least 75% of surface area
    Take over the administration of all national parks by the State, establishment of independent and modern national park management in all Romanian parks following best practice examples (Germany, Austria, Sweden etc.)
  • Ensure adequate public funding for and promotion of Romania’s national parks
    Provide private forest owners within the national park boundaries with appropriate compensation
  • Re-define the boundaries of national parks based on rigorous scientific criteria and include all remaining old growth/primeval forests in Romania’s national parks core zones
    Develop and implement an integrated national ecotourism strategy to ensure the preservation and promotion of national parks, to improve services and provide support to local communities
  • Establish new national parks including in Făgăraş, Giumalau, Ţarcu and Ciucas forests

[1] Letter no. 626462 / 30.7.2018 of Ministry for Internal Affairs, Gorj County Police Inspectorate, Tismana Police Station
[2] Ramnicu Valcea Forest Guard letter 14185 / 28.8.2018
[3] Briefing about the drama of national parks in Romania.