Tag Archives: AgentGreen

European Parliament: High Level Conference about Virgin Forests Crisis in Romania

Romania hosts the largest tracts of virgin forests within the EU. But they are vanishing due to industrial logging, corruption and corporate greed. However, this major nature tragedy is almost unknown in wider Europe. Therefore, EuroNatur Foundation and Romanian environmental organisation Agent Green organised an expert conference in the European Parliament in Brussels on the 8th November. The conference was hosted by Thomas Waitz and Benedek Jávor, both Member of the European Parliament.

Benedek Jávor opened the conference with the words: “Virgin forests have a special importance in Europe, not only for biodiversity but also for ecosystem services… In Romania they are under huge pressure not only from illegal logging, but also from legal logging. Deforestation is closely related to corruption issues and problems with governance. Low level of governance and high level of corruption contribute to legal and illegal logging.”

Thomas Waitz then also  gave a clear introduction: “I am a forester, I’m not against logging as such.” He had been in Romania in May 2018 upon invitation from EuroNatur and Agent Green. During this trip he also talked to corporations and found out that forest areas are massively overlogged. In national parks the non-core protected areas, so called buffer zones should not be larger than 25% of the area. In Domogled National Park, which he also visited, the buffer zone is bigger than 50%. Only a third of the park’s forests are under strict protection. “There are rules how forestry interventions should look like. As I am a professional, I could see what sort of interventions they did.” But “…they are not even applying their own weak rules.”

Gabriel Paun, president of the NGO Agent Green, also pointed out, that the deliberate destruction of virgin forests and Natura 2000 sites is happening with support of the Romanian government. In 14 years only 10% of the mapped virgin forests (Pin Matra study in 2004) have been put into the National Catalogue of Virgin Forests.

Gabriel Schwaderer, CEO of EuroNatur Foundation agreed that something is going wrong in Romania: “We consider this (National Catalogue) as a great tool… But we are wondering if it´s applied in the right way. And to be frank with you, sometimes I have the feeling that it´s not used really to protect those forests legally. But it´s is rather used to exclude as much as possible from it. And I have the question why only 21,000ha are inscribed in it, so many years after adopting this ministerial order” (in 2012).

Paun also said: “We put much hope after seeing the Bialowieza case that the EU will find ways to have a strong intervention to help save what´s left of our forests, which are also a European treasure.”

Humberto Delgado Rosa / EU-Commission: “Reports are unsettling, shocking and outrageous”

His hope will be supported as Humberto Delgado Rosa, Director of Natural Capital with DG Environment of the European Commission said: “You can see my presence as the proof that we do pay attention to this.” The reports by NGOs and media about logging of Romanian forests are “definitely a reason for EU concern. We do pay attention to his… We will monitor the situation as we did in Bialowieza. And we do have some new tools to monitor it better, including satellite technology…”

He stressed that “the reports by NGOs, the images and the presented documentaries about logging in Romania are unsettling, shocking and outrageous. He also made it clear that “all old growth forests” in Europe “require a non-intervention approach”.

With Natura 2000 sites there is a need for “better implementation…But the enforcement remains a challenge.” For the EU infringement procedure “We need some data gathering and we need to have some evidence that convinces us internally in the Commission.”

Sadly, Thomas Waitz added that the Romanian MEPs were invited to the conference, but none showed up: “as you can see… there is no Romanian MEP in the room. So it seems to be either a hurtful topic for them or they don´t care…”

Romanian EU-presidency: spotlight in the case

Gabriel Schwaderer concluded: “The Romanian virgin forests are vanishing while we speak. It´s a key European matter, thus EU involvement is crucial. The Romanian EU-presidency in 2019 will also give a spotlight on this case. We call on EU institutions to help and push to save this treasure. We see clear evidence of systematic violation of nature directives and call on EU institutions to act. He informed the audience that IUCN is also looking more deeply into the situation in Romania.


Raising the Alarm for Romanian Forests from AGENT GREEN on Vimeo.

MEP Benedek Jávor opening the conference…
Humberto Delgado Rosa, MEP Thomas Waitz, Gabriel Schwaderer and Gabriel Paun at the Conference about Virgin Forests in Romania
Humberto Delgado Rosan and MEP Thomas Waitz
Interested audience at the EP Conference about Virgin Forests in Romania


Activists urge EU Commission to save Romania’s Virgin Forests

EuroNatur and Agent Green: EU’s biggest nature crisis in Romania requires immediate action

A giant life-sized virgin forest tree being cut down has been etched into the pavement outside the EU Commission building in Brussels. Along with several banners calling on the EU to act now to protect Romania’s virgin forests, activists from EuroNatur Foundation and Romanian NGO Agent Green have brought the issue of the logging of Romania’s ancient forests to Brussels. Huge banners have been unravelled drawing a lot of attention to the ongoing destruction of the EU’s last large tracts of virgin forests in Romania.

“This is a wake-up call about the tragic environmental crisis that is destroying Romania’s virgin forests. Their loss through logging is one of the biggest nature emergencies in the EU today. Thousands of hectares of irreplaceable forests are being destroyed or degraded every year. Most of these precious forests are in Natura 2000 sites, where they are supposed to be protected. We call on the EU Commission to take action, now!“, Gabriel Paun, president of Agent Green, said

Romania hosts the largest remains of virgin forests within the EU, with estimates between 100,000 and 200,000 hectares. These unique forests are progressively falling victim to greed, corruption and negligence of nature conservation laws. Even in national parks and Natura 2000 sites, where deterioration of the natural habitats and species should be prohibited, logging of old growth and virgin forests is omnipresent.

“If the breach of EU legislation in Romania is allowed to continue without any sanctions, the whole Natura 2000 system is weakened. Thus the EU needs to stop looking the other way and start taking action! This is why we have come to Brussels today“, Gabriel Schwaderer, Executive Director of EuroNatur, said.

Romania will hold the EU-presidency in 2019, but authorities and the government do not show any ambition to implement national and EU environmental legislation properly.

Background information:
The creative and peaceful protest was part of a day of action in Brussels called “Spotlight on Vanishing Virgin Forests of Romania“. NGOs EuroNatur und Agent Green wanted to both inform the public and raise awareness with EU institutions about the logging in Romania, a drama that doesn’t get the attention it needs.

The day of action also includes these events:
– Expert conference “Europe‘s last virgin forests”, hosted by MEPs Thomas Waitz and Benedek Javor. European Parliament, Room number ASP5E1. Nov 8, 15 – 17pm. (Please note: participants need to register in advance at thomas.waitz-office@ep.europa.eu).
– Film screening “Out of Control”, a video series about scandalous logging in Romania’s national parks, with discussion. Kamilou in Mundo B (Rue d’Edimbourg, 26, 1050 Bruxelles), Nov 8, 19 – 21pm. Entry: free.

Contact information:
EuroNatur: Anja Arning, E-Mail: anja.arning(at)euronatur.org, Tel.: +49 (0)7732 – 92 72 13

Brussels / EU-Quarter / EU-Commission: Protest action by EuroNatur and Agent Green – EU must take action to save virgin forests of Romania. (c) Lode Saidane
(c) Lode Saidane

Brussels / EU-Quarter / EU-Commission: Protest action by EuroNatur and Agent Green – EU must take action to save virgin forests of Romania.

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.