Tag Archives: forests

EU announces legal action against Romanian authorities for illegal logging of Europe’s last natural forest

The European Commission has announced today its decision to pursue legal action against Romanian authorities over their systemic and continuous failure to protect Europe’s last natural forests.

The announcement follows complaints submitted last year to the European Commission by environmental groups Agent Green, ClientEarth and EuroNatur against Romania’s ongoing and deliberate destruction of tens of thousands of hectares of its protected old-growth and primeval forests.

The groups claimed that Romania’s state forestry management is conducting logging operations within protected Natura 2000 areas without proper analysis of the impact in these unique sites. Failure to carry adequate and strategic environmental assessments when approving logging in protected areas and lack of access to environmental information breaches EU law.

The environmental groups therefore welcome the launch of the Commission’s infringement proceedings against Romania as a new hope to protect the country’s natural forests.

ClientEarth lawyer Ewelina Tylec-Bakalarz said: “The destruction of Romanian forests is a huge systemic problem far exceeding in scale the illegal logging of Poland’s Bialowieza forest, which was the basis of our legal challenge three years ago.”

“The Romanian government has repeatedly failed to fulfil its obligations to protect its forests under European environmental law. By opening infringement proceedings against Romania, the European Commission is sending a clear signal that it takes this problem very seriously. This is an important warning that Romania must stop blatantly disregarding its legal obligation to protect these unique forests”.

Gabriel Schwaderer, CEO of the German EuroNatur Foundation added: “Romania is still home to more than half a million hectares of primary and old-growth forests, although enormous areas have been logged since 2007 when the country joined the EU. Natura 2000 sites are hot spots of logging. EU legislation has been widely ignored. Thus, the Commission intervention comes last minute and we urge to speed up the process as it is the only real chance to save a very large share of Europe’s last great natural forests. They are home to many important and threatened animal and plant species and they store enormous amounts of CO2”.

Gabriel Paun of Agent Green warned: “Imagine for example a single clear cut on a surface of 3700 hectares in Maramures Natura 2000 site, the region where Liviu Pop, a local forest ranger has been killed recently. The place looks like a battlefield and is larger than the entire city of Brussels. We have documented 10 000 hectares of logging in this protected area including in priority habitats made of ash and alder trees. These woods were home for bears, wolves, lynx and many wonderful wild creatures. Economically, at least 5 million m3 of wood in value of at least a quarter of a billion euros are missing just from the clear cuts we documented in this site. But the same happens in Fagaras, the Carpathian most beloved mountains and other Natura 2000 sites. These actions happen in both, state and privately owned forests. The situation is completely out of control”.

Agent Green, ClientEarth and EuroNatur welcome the action taken by the European Commission and call on the Romanian Government to:

  • Immediately start complying with Nature Directives.
  • Strictly preserve all remaining primary and old-growth forests as indicated in PRIMOFARO inventory that overlaps with Natura 2000 network.
  • Protect primary and old-growth forests located outside Natura 2000 sites.
    Publish logging plans and forest age data of all forest management plans of Natura 2000 sites.

As part of the infringement proceedings launched today against Romania for illegal logging within its Natura 2000 sites, the Commission is also taking legal action for Romania’s failure to properly implement the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) by allowing illegally harvested timber to enter the EU market.

The Romanian government has now just one month to send a detailed reply to the concerns raised by the European Commission. The Commission will then decide whether to take further steps towards bringing the case before the Court of Justice of the European Union – the EU’s highest court.

Background information:

Romania still has more than 525 000 hectares of potential old-growth and primary forests, which is more than any other EU Member State (outside Scandinavia).

The PRIMOFARO inventory (Primary and Old Growth Forest Areas of Romania), an analysis by EuroNatur and Agent Green, reveals that forest destruction moves ahead quickly.

Despite efforts by Romanian civil society groups to stop illegal logging, the situation in Romania has continued to spiral out of control. The official national forest inventory shows that on top of 18 million m3 of legally harvested wood, another 8.8 million m3 of forest were extracted annually between 2009 and 2013 and increased to 20.6 million m3 annually between 2014 and 2018.

Giant clear cut on steep mountain terrain in southern part of Romania’s Fagaras Mountains Natura 2000 site.

How safe are EU’s natural forests? High level event in EU Parliament.

Sept. 24, Brussels: Forest destruction – only an issue in the Amazon?
*** New report “LOGGING OUT – Saving Romania’s paradise forests” ***

On September 24th, Members of the European Parliament (Michal WIEZIK, Martin HO-JSÍK, Siegfried MUREŞAN, Sarah WIENER) and Humberto DELGADO ROSA (Director at DG Environment of the EU Commission) discuss with NGOs EuroNatur, Client Earth and Agent Green the status and future of EU’s remaining old-growth and primary forests.

Europe’s remaining old-growth and primary forests are an outstanding biological treasure and they store and capture huge amounts of carbon. While the shock about the forest tragedy in the Amazon is substantial, many of Europe’s last natural forests are also under threat, even in protected areas such as Natura 2000 sites and national parks. In the temperate climate zone of the EU, most of these highly valuable forest remains are located in the Carpathians, mainly in Romania, Slovakia and Poland.

A new inventory of Romania’s old- growth and primary forests (“PRIMOFARO”), commissioned by EuroNatur Foundation, reveals a huge extent of close-to-nature forests – and the acute threat they face from logging. The key findings of the inventory will be presented at the event.

The main questions to be addressed at the conference in the European Parliament will be:

• To what extent does the Natura 2000 regime guarantee sufficient conservation outcomes for Eu-rope’s last natural forests?

• In April 2018, a ruling of the European Court of Justice stopped logging activities in Poland’s Bialowieza Natura 2000 site due to severe breaches of the EU Habitat and Birds Directives. But what will happen to the rest of natural forests in Natura 2000 sites?

• Will the EU fulfil its own environmental responsibilities and act to protect our last old-growth and primary forests?

On 10th September 2019, EuroNatur, Client Earth and Agent Green filed an EU complaint against the Romanian government and authorities regarding systematic breaches of EU legislation in the forest sector. Client Earth will explain details of the complaint at the event.

“Today, the climate crisis is on top of the UN agenda in New York. Tomorrow, a forest summit will take place in Berlin. The IPBES Global Assessment Report highlighted that global protection and restoration of natural ecosystems are equally important as fighting the climate crisis. Therefore, the preservation of intact and carbon-rich forest habitats in Europe must be treated as a topic of utmost importance,” Gabriel Schwaderer says.

New report published:
“LOGGING OUT – Saving Romania’s paradise forests”

The report gives an overview about the tragic situation of Romania’s old growth and primary forests, explains the backgrounds and draws solutions.

You can download the report here (or click on image below).

 

Colourful protests outside Romanian parliament call for protection of virgin forests

On Sunday and Monday, 19th and 20th May 2019, environmentalists from EuroNatur and Agent Green joined with citizens of Bucharest to welcome EU Environment Ministers to Bucharest.

On Sunday, residents of the city, young and old, came together to paint the sidewalk in front of the enormous Romanian parliament building (one of the largest buildings in the world) with pictures and inscriptions calling for the protection of Romania’s magnificent forests. Their messages read that  forests are important habitat, they provide clean air and fresh water and are critical to combat climate change.

With the EU election less than a week away, they showed that it is important to vote and that the EU can and should do a lot to more to ensure the last virgin and old-growth forests of the EU are permanently protected.

Romania’s most famous street artist painted a huge picture in the square right in front of Parliament.

Giant street art and banner calling for forest protection outside Romanian Parliament.

On Monday, activists welcomed EU environment ministers who were meeting in the Parliament. with a banner and a television footage showing the loss from logging in Romania’s forests. A bear held a banner showing a large clear-cut forest with the words “Welcome to Romania” highlighting the situation in the country.

Pedestrians, car drivers and bus passengers all showed their support for forest protection. Passersby stopped, cars honked their horns, and people waved from buses and passenger seats. It was clear that Bucharest residents want to see their forest protected.

For the animals that call these forests home, including bears, wolves and lynx, for the protection of the climate and for all future generations – many young kids who painted on the sidewalk – these forests deserve immediate protection..

We call on the Romanian government with the support of the EU to act quickly to permanently protect these crown jewels of European natural heritage.

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