Tag Archives: domogled

Romania: Justice suspends logging permits in natural forest in Domogled – Valea Cernei National Park

Agent Green succeeds to stop Romsilva from cutting down 20 parcels with intact natural beech forest in Domogled – Valea Cernei National Park / UNESCO World Heritage buffer zone and Mehedinti Natural Park

Domogled – Valea Cernei National Park contains very precious nature with „outstanding universal value“. So precious, that some of the park’s primary and old growth beech forests have been inscribed as UNESCO World Natural Heritage site.

Unfortunately, only a fraction of the highly valuable old growth beech forests in Cerna valley is protected from logging yet and has been included in the UNESCO site or in the strictly protected zone of the national park or designated as forest reserve (under the Romanian „Catalogue of Virgin Forests“).

Apparently, State Forestry Romsilva (they control the park management) kept more than 50% of the park’s forests outside the protection zone because of logging interests. Thus, logging proceeds and cuts are moving more and more into the natural beech forests. Centuries old trees fall, not far from the UNESCO World Heritage site, where the same type of forest is under protection, because of its „outstanding universal value“.

In 2018, Romsilva issued logging permits for 20 parcels in some of the parks most precious wild forest landscapes, such as pristine Radoteasa valley in Cernisoara production unit (2B, 25, 27C, 45B, 45C). This gorgeous valley was largely untouched until 2017. Then, a new forest road was brutally dug into its western slopes and logging started.

Five parcels in Mehedinti Nature Park (bordering Domogled Valea Cerni national park to the south) were also planned for logging. A forest road was built there to give access to old growth beech forest on a unique limestone plateau. 10.000 cubic meters (over 6000 beech trees) are planned for cutting only in the first phase of „progressive logging“.

Under Romanian law, „virgin and quasi-virgin forests“ are theoretically under protection and forest authorities must issue logging allowances only if the forests have been degraded already and do not meet (very strict) criteria for identification of „virgin and quasi-virgin“ forests.

Agent Green informed judiciary authorities about the high conservation value forest parcels and urged them to suspend the logging permits in order to allow (field) verification the ecological status of these potential „virgin and quasi-virgin“ forests. If their ecological integrity is confirmed, these forests have to be included in the „Catalogue of Virgin Forests“.

15 of the disputed forest parcels are located in Domogled – Valea Cernei National Park and five in Mehedinti Natural Park. Yesterday (November 12), the judiciary authorities followed the complaint by Agent Green and obliged the Forest Guard of Valcea to verify all parcels and to post them for studies on their webpage, as it is stated in the law (OM 2525/2016).

Catalina Radulescu, the environmental lawyer representing Agent Green in this subject, says: “This is an important success regarding nature conservation and implementation of forest protection legislation in Romania. However, this is not the final decision yet, as the concerned local forest administrations could make an appeal.”

Forest Guard of Valcea: No protection for pure beech forests because they do not have “enough biodiversity”

Furthermore, Agent Green has informed the Forest Guard of Valcea about the existence of large areas of potential „virgin and quasi-virgin“ forests in 708 forest parcels in Domogled – Valea Cernei National Park and in Mehedinti Natural Park.

In the reply to Agent Green the Forest Guard (signed by Mr. Zarnescu) said that they disqualified all 708 parcels, because they have do not show „enough biodiversity“, as they have the „composition of 100% beech trees“.

Beech dominated or pure beech forests are the natural forest types in most of the Domogled – Mehedinti region. The European beech (fagus sylvatica) is endemic in Europe and their protection is the main aim of the transnational UNESCO World Heritage site “Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe“, which also includes parts of the old beech forests in Domogled-Valea Cernei National Park.

For Agent Green the statement by the Forest Guard is a „huge abuse“ and strongly indicates a severe lack of qualification of this officer. It is certainly not possible to judge about biodiversity of a forest parcel from an office desk. Old growth and primary forests deserve secure and comprehensive protection, in particular when they are located within a national park, a UNESCO World Heritage buffer zone and a Natura 2000 site, Agent Green argues.

Natural beech forests with old trees are key habitats for numerous theratened and red listed species. World nature conservation organisation IUCN has been expressing strong concern about the decline of dead wood depending species such as saproxylic beetles. These highly specialized creatures need old growth and primary forests with large veteran trees. As these kind of forests are almost extinct in Europe, it is even more important to preserve all intact remains.

Demands by Agent Green and EuroNatur Foundation:

– All logging permits in old-growth and primary forests in national parks and UNESCO World Heritage site buffer zones to be cancelled and logging activities to be stopped immediately;

– All old-growth and primary forests in the national park and UNESCO World Heritage site buffer zones be preserved as designated non-intervention areas (eg. core zones enlarged, UNESCO sites expanded, National Catalogue of Virgin Forests properly implemented). As almost all forests within the UNESCO buffer zones are under the management and ownership of the Romanian state, this should be achievable without the need for financial compensation for private land owners;

– National Parks and UNESCO World Heritage Sites be promoted as places where nature conservation is paramount and adequately funded, world’s best practice management to prioritise the protection, promotion and restoration of natural ecosystems, not the exploitation of natural resources.

 

Domogled -Valea Cernei National Park and UNESCO World Heritage. The planned logging of the old growth and primary forests would severly damage the ecologcal integrity of the whole protected area.
Huge potential of old growth and primary forests in Domogled – Valea National Park (dark green polygons). In order to sustain the ecological integrity and connectivity of the UNESCO World Heritage site all intact natural forest remains in the buffer zone urgently need protection.

Very old and biodiversity rich beech trees in parcel 45B in Radoteasa valley. This forest lacks any protection and Romsilva intends to log it, although it is located in the middle of a national park…
Unprotected wild nature in Radoteasa valley in Domogled National Park. The Forest Guard of Valcea argues that pure beech forests do not deserve protection because the do not show “enough biodiversity” …
The UNESCO World Heritage site “Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe“ protects the most precious European beech forests – including three forest complexes in Domogled-Valea Cernei National Park. Image: UNESCO component part “Iauna Craiove”, a pure beech forest with tremendous biodiversity …

Forest fires destroy Romania’s Domogled National Park and threaten nature and people

Forests are burning all over the world: in the Amazon, in California, in Central Europe last summer – and now also in the Carpathian Mountains. On Saturday, 26th October, fires started in Romania´s largest National Park: Domogled National Park which is also a EU Natura 2000 site and part of a transnational UNESCO World Heritage Site to the protect the most precious primary beech forests of Europe. Fires are still burning and keep destroying valuable forests. Even five days after the first fire started, no adequate fire management is set in place and it seems like central authorities ignore these threats to the forest as well as to local communities.

Agent Green volunteer  Alexandru Teleaga, who has discovered the fires while hiking on Saturday, is deeply concerned about the forests and even more frustrated  because authorities don´t properly support the communities which try to stop the fires from the ground. He reported: “After I climbed on the Arjana mountain, I saw that the fire was between trees and not supervised and the wind was pushing it towards the forest. At 16 o´clock, I called the emergency number to announce the fire and told them that everything was dry and no water source there for any natural protection of a fire spread. They said they will send a team there. I also informed two employees from the park administration. The fire increased, and when the teams arrived, they were only people on the ground which are not enough to halt such a fast spreading fire. They were only able to reduce the fire a little but had to leave in the evening and leave the fire burning during the night”.

Also, Mihai Gotiu, USR Senator of the region Cluj, wrote on his Facebook account that he had called Raed Arafat, the head of the Emergency Department, several times. But a helicopter – which would decrease the fires way more effectively than the people on the ground – was not sent until now (status: 30th October). Parts of the fires also lie within the Belareca nature reserve. People not only in the area affected by the fires, but around Romania are shocked and wondering why no aerial support is offered. And this even though last week the Vulcan nature reserve was already heavily destroyed by fires. 

Of the two fires which started on Saturday one has, luckily, been put out already by the local community and supporters. But a second one in the area of Cornereva is still burning and thus threatening several villages and the forest around them. Alexandru Teleaga further reported: “Sunday the fire increased suddenly very much as the wind blew from south and pushed it towards the mountain. They sent only people on the ground without helicopter. People told me they couldn’t do much from the ground. In the evening the whole mountain Arjana was burning. The forest burned is in the core zone of the national park and is moving towards Prisacina village” Most of the people living in the villages live from subsistence farming. The fire threatenes their fields and livestock. There are discussions going on about a necessary evacuation. Still, it is outraging that these people get only little support to halt these fires to stop the possible catastrophe they are facing.

This area of Domogled National Park holds old-growth and primary forest of outstanding value. Big parts of the very old beech forests have been added to the UNESCO World Heritage siteprotecting Eureopan beech forests only back in 2017. These valuable forests are home to several rare and even endemic plant, animal and fungi species.

All measures to stop the fires and protect the forests and villages must be taken immediately. EuroNatur and Agent Green have been concerned about logging in Domogled National Park (see investigation video “Out of Control” on Domogled National Park here) and are now concerned about these outstanding forest being lost to the fires.

fire burning on Arjana mountain © Alexandru Teleaga
© Alexandru Teleaga
© Alexandru Teleaga

Spectacular climbing action shines spotlight on need to protect primary forests in the Romanian Carpathians

Protest against destruction of UNESCO World Heritage Site by road construction and logging in Romania

The environmental organisations ROBIN WOOD, AgentGreen and EuroNatur are protesting against the destruction of Romania’s irreplaceable natural and primary forests. This past weekend, climbing activists made a spectacular show for the protection of the forests in the Domogled Valea Cernei National Park in the Romanian Southern Carpathians: They were holding a 50-meter-long banner with the words “SAVE ROMANIAN PRIMARY FORESTS!” On Saturday, the banner fluttered over a pass, on Sunday over a 200 meter wide valley. The activists thus marked the threatened component part “Ciucevele Cernei” of the UNESCO World Heritage site for the protection of ancient and primeval beech forests in Europe, which is under UNESCO protection for all humankind.

The protest is directed against the planned expansion of the National Road 66a in the middle of the Domogled – Valea Cernei National Park, which is also under the protection of the EU as a Natura 2000 site. The Romanian government is planning to upgrade the existing non-asphalted forest road to a two-lane highway. Of the 19 kilometres of the planned construction section, one kilometre runs through the core zone of the UNESCO protected area. This would jeopardise the status of the entire transnational European World Heritage Site for the protection of old beech forests. The conservationists call on the Romanian government to permanently protect these natural and primary forests, which are important for the entire EU, and to give up all plans for the expansion of National Road 66a.

Romania hosts the largest intact natural and primary forest areas in the EU outside of Scandinavia. However, the logging in these species-rich and structurally rich forests is progressing rapidly: in 2004 there were at least 218,500 hectares of untouched forests in Romania. Recent satellite image evaluations commissioned by the EuroNatur Foundation show that only half of them are still intact.

After previous plans for the expansion of the National Road 66a were stopped in 2010 through very public environmental protests, the situation has now rapidly worsened. On 25 July 2019, the tender for road construction was closed and the Romanian Minister of Transport Răzvan Cuc announced the start of construction within a month.

“The forest destruction and the expansion of the National Road 66a endanger the entire transnational UNESCO World Heritage site and destroy unique natural landscapes. Romania is thus acting against all humanity. We urge Prime Minister Viorica Dӑncilӑ to ensure that this destruction effort is stopped immediately, “says Gabriel Paun, founder and CEO of the Romanian environmental organization AgentGreen. The German nature conservation organization EuroNatur and Agent Green are fighting with the campaign “SaveParadiseForests” for the preservation of Romania’s primary forests.

“In times of mass extinction and climate crises, the destruction of Romanian forests is madness and has enormous consequences far beyond national borders,” says Jana Ballenthien, forest advisor to ROBIN WOOD. “We demand complete protection of Romania’s natural forests. The EU is also obliged to consistently enforce European nature conservation law!“

“Just recently Romania has received a rebuke from the UNESCO World Heritage Committee because it has failed to adequately protect its natural beech forests. Now a gravel road is planned to be cut into a national road and right through a World Heritage core area. This is not only an affront to UNESCO, it will also increase the pressure on Romanian forests, “explains Gabriel Schwaderer, Managing Director of the EuroNatur Foundation.

Background information:

The Domogled Valea Cernei National Park is with 612 square kilometers the largest national park in Romania and accommodates large primeval and natural forest areas. The entire national park is also designated as a EU Natura 2000 area. The EU Habitats and Birds Directives prohibit deterioration for EU-wide protected habitat types and species.

The transnational UNESCO World Heritage Site “Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and other regions of Europe” preserves 92,023 hectares of endemic European beech forest in 12 states. Of which 23,981 hectares are located in Romania. UNESCO World Heritage Sites represent the highest level of protected areas in the world and are under the protection for all humanity. Romania was recently reprimanded in July 2019 at the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee in Baku for logging of natural forests in the buffer zones of the Romanian UNESCO component parts. The destruction of the natural beech forest and the planned road construction in Romanian UNESCO buffer and core zones endanger the status of the entire transnational World Heritage site: if these violations continue, the entire world heritage area is in danger of being abandoned. This would also affect the component parts in other countries such as Germany and Austria – eg. Serrahn in the German Müritz National Park or the Kalkalpen National Park in Upper Austria.

 

Protest pentru păduri UNESCO from AGENT GREEN on Vimeo.

Spectacular banner action over UNESCO protected “Cuicevele Cernei” reserve in Romania’s Domogled Valea Cernei National Park. The old road 66a is planned to be enlarged by removing parts of the protected ecosystems of “red rock” – with explosives. (c) Agent Green
Climbing protest action in Romanian Cera valley  to protect old growth and primary forests in Domogled Valea Cernei National Park from expansion of national raoad 66a – and from logging. Parts of the National Park are included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and other regions of Europe”, the road expansion would also severely damage the UNESCO site. (c) Minerva Vinze / Agent Green
Banner protest against planned expansion of national road 66a and against progessing logging in Romania’s Domogled national park. Parts of the National Park are included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and other regions of Europe” – the road would also damage the UNESCO site. (c) Minerva Vinze / Agent Green
The UNESCO Wold Heritage Site “Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and other Regions of Europe” aim to protect these endemic ecosystems. The old reserve “Cuicevele Cernei” in Domogled National Park is part of this transnational World Heritage site. However, Romania wants to dig a new road through these wild beech forests… (c) Matthias Schickhofer
Old, narrow road 66a in Domogled Valea Cernei National Park: dimensions of a forest road, no major disturbance of animal migration routes – leave it as it is… (c) Matthias Schickhofer
First section of the new road 66a in Jiu valley, built 10 years ago: destruction of  ecosystems in the valley, major barrier for wildlife. (c) Matthias Schickhofer
New section of road 66a in Jiu valley (image taken in 2010), at the edge of Retezat National Park. Domogled National Park and the UNESCO site must not be damaged as well. (c) Matthias Schickhofer
EU (Natura 2000) protected natural “ravine forest” in upper Cerna valley in Domogled National Park. The contruction of the new road 66a would severely damage this wild forest landscape. (c) Matthias Schickhofer