Tag Archives: forest

More justice for murdered foresters through international pressure

In an international petition, an alliance of nature conservation organisations called for more justice and an impartial investigation into the murder of Liviu Pop, forest ranger and forest protector in Romania. The petition was now successful: Thanks to the great solidarity, the case is now transferred to the Romanian Supreme Court in Bucharest.

A few weeks ago, two Romanian forest rangers were killed in just one month. Both had worked to protect the forests and reported illegal deforestation. The first of them was Raducu Gorcioaia, who has been working to preserve Romania´s forests for many years. He was, only a few days later, followed by Liviu Pop, who left behind a wife and three young children. Both wanted to uncover illegal deforestation and paid for it with their lives.

The extent of crime in Romania’s forests is shocking. Not only are 20 million cubic metres of wood logged illegally every year – even in protected areas – but foresters and conservationists are also brutally attacked and sometimes even killed. In the plast 5 years alone, 6 murders and over 650 attacks have been registered by the Romanian Forestry Union.
Together with Declic, Greenpeace Romania and WeMove, EuroNatur and Agent Green demanded justice for the murdered rangers. With the help of a petition they asked for international support. In just a few days, the petition was signed by over 100,000 people. The case of Liviu Pop´s murder was first dealt with in by the  prosecuter´s office in Maramures, where Pop lived and was found dead in the forest. However, a connection was suspected between the responsible prosecuter, the suspected murderers and the profiteers of the illegal timber business. As the court in  Bucharest is believed to be impartial the organisations demanded that the investigations are continued there.

Even before we were able to hand over the petition, the pressure was strong enough: On 22. November 2019, the Prosecutor General decided that the case would be transferred from the Maramures Court to the Romanian Supreme Court in Bucharest.
“We are happy that Raducu Gorcioaia and Liviu Pop as well as their families and friends will now have the chance for a fair prosecution of the case and thereforemore  justice. Nevertheless, the problem in Romania’s forests has not yet been solved. As long as corruption, mafia-like timber trading and illegal logging are common in Romania, foresters and conservationists are not safe. Romania urgently needs to consistently tackle illegal practices and corruption in the forestry sector. This is the only way to protect the forest and the people in Romania who are committed to its protection”, says Gabriel Schwaderer, Executive Director of EuroNatur.

 

Here the official announcement.

Fresh logging in Domogled national park ©Alexandru Teleaga

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 …

We need action now! Romanian citizens joined forces in the street to protest for better protection of Europe’s last primary and old-growth forests

More than 4.000 people in Bucharest and several thousand from other cities in Romania and also in Europe protested on Sunday, 03rd November, against illegal logging and criminal violence on forest rangers in Romania.

The Forest March, a peaceful protest, was initiated and organized by three Romanian environmental organizations – Greenpeace, Agent Green and Declic. Additionally, other protests were voluntarily initiated in more than 20 other Romanian and European cities such as Brasov, Cluj, Timisoara, Corabia, Iasi and Zürich.
People marched toward the ministry and chanted „Thieves” and „Ministry of deforastation” and carrying signs which said „Forest is life”, „Stop the logging mafia” and „Climate emergency”.

The current Romanian forests situation is critical and time is running out to save these natural treasures in Romania. Protesters requests that Romanian authorities act immediately and push harder against illegal logging of these precious forests. According to the PRIMOFARO report (commissioned by Euronatur), Romania still shelters more than 500.000 ha of primary and old-growth forests. These are extremly valuable forests, for biodiverstiy conservationa and for climate security as well as for different supports for the livelihodd of the local population. For this reason, many Romanians joined forces in the street and asked the Ministry of Water and Forests to put an end to illegal logging and to strictly protect the big Romanian parts of Europe’s last primary and old-growth forest.

The Forest Rally had an enormous international echo, big media like BBC and Reuters have written about this green movement and also environmentalist Leonardo Di Caprio shared a picture on his Instagram page/account expressing concern about the serious situation in Romania.

© Greenpeace Romania

 

Live video from the protests on 3rd November 2019: https://www.facebook.com/agentgreen.ro/videos/449684045951366/

Here are some links to media that reported about the protest:

1. Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-romania-protests-logging/thousands-of-romanians-protest-against-illegal-logging-attacks-on-forest-workers-idUSKBN1XD0HZ
2. BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-50287999?fbclid=IwAR3V5DwX0d9mitaqUb8f2Ea7GWn4NiOZthZJNcmCkzAN9OQKLa0z85vsnK4
3. Romanian Insider: https://www.romania-insider.com/forest-march-november-2019
4. VaticanNews: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/world/news/2019-11/romania-demonstrations-anti-logging.html?fbclid=IwAR1YeZUVItsCf0vIlsOV4sSJHG77UF3H9I3Si_xWiq7luxhMDJIBuxgT-44

 

© Greenpeace Romania
© Greenpeace Romania
© Greenpeace Romania