Tag Archives: Gavrilescu

EU-Parliament: Romanian government downplays logging crisis

Romanian ministers Gavrilescu and Denes disguise the massive problem of the destruction of natural forests at hearing in EU Parliament; EuroNatur and Agent Green provide GPS data of destruction sites.

During a meeting of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety in the European Parliament on 21st January 2019, the Romanian Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Environment, Graţiela Leocadia Gavrilescu, and the Romanian Minister for Water and Forests, Ioan Deneș, both denied any problems with legal and illegal logging in Romania.

Minister Gavrilescu declared that all protected areas in Romania are preserved and well managed. She said the Romanian EU-Council Presidency has, among other topics, the priority of biodiversity. She only came up with vague statements such as: “biodiversity needs to be something we are proud of, regardless of where we come from”. 

Romanian Minister of Environment, EU Conference from AGENT GREEN on Vimeo.

In response to questions by MEP Martin Häusling, the Romanian Water and Forests Minister, Ioan Denes, said that “what media is referring to is illegal logging”. He added that this “is not a generalized phenomenon. We are talking about illegal logging in private Forests where there was no proper sercives for guarding these forests. We have kicked off thematic specific and inter-institutional controls carried out by the gendarmerie, the police and other institutions in order to ensure a proper observance of the law and a proper circulation of wood materials.” 
He avoided saying anything about the large volume of (partly illegal) logging in state owned and state managed forests which occur in protected areas. He also did not react to the severe allegations by NGOs and the media regarding widespread corruption within the Romanian forestry sector.

Romanian Minister of Forests and Water, EU Conference from AGENT GREEN on Vimeo.

EuroNatur Foundation and Agent Green reacted strongly to the misleading statements by the Romanian government officials as much hard proof of the unfavourable conservation status of forests in Romanian protected areas have been comprehensively published.

EU must take urgent action

Romania hosts the largest remains of virgin forests within the EU, an estimated area of 100,000 to 200,000 hectares. These unique forests are progressively falling victim to greed, corruption and the negligence of nature conservation laws.

Gabriel Schwaderer, CEO of EuroNatur said: “Europe’s most valuable virgin and natural forests in Romania are being logged at a frightening speed. Even national parks and buffer zones of UNESCO World Heritage sites are not safe from the chainsaws. That the responsible ministers are downplaying and veiling this problem in front of the European Parliament is truly unsettling. We call on the EU institutions to take urgent action to preserve this unique natural heritage in Romania.”

EuroNatur and Agent Green invite EU officials to do bear witness to the logging

The NGOs have invited the European Commission and Members of the European Parliament to take the opportunity around the upcoming events and meetings in Romania to personally witness the devastation on the ground – in the national parks and Natura 2000 sites. Thus, they provide recommendations for eye-opening field excursions. The devastation can be even easily spotted, including through desktop analysis (eg. with Google maps).

Domogled – Valea National Park, Natura 2000 site and UNESCO World Heritage Site (buffer zone): Less than 50% of the forests there are under sufficient protection. In particular in the upper Cerna valley, logging has been approved by the state and is moving further into high nature value and virgin forests.
GPS data of damaging logging areas: 45°06’04.8″N 22°36’39.6″E (close to the UNESCO World Heritage site component part Iauna Craiova).

Rodna National Park and Natura 2000 site: Large clearcuts in ecologically highly sensitive mountain forests. 
GPS data of a significant logging area: 47°32’58.4″N 24°32’15.0″E

Fagaras Mountains Natura 2000 site: This is probably one of the biggest clusters of virgin forests in temperate part of EU. However, only a small fraction of these forests are under proper protection. Logging is even ravaging permanent study plots of scientists. GPS data of logging areas: 45°38’57.6″N 24°42’51.7″E or 45°32’57.6″N 24°47’01.7″E or 45°25’46.1″N 24°45’08.9″E or 45°26’57.2″N 24°34’02.8″E.

Maramures Natura 2000 site and Nature Park: This is certainly the worst site in the whole of Romania. Since the EU accession of Romania, entire valleys have been ravaged and devastated by aggressive deforestation.
GPS data of Romania’s largest logging areas: 47°42’17.5″N 24°55’40.0″E

Apuseni Mountains Natura 2000 site and Nature Park: Large scale clearcuts of huge forest areas.
GPS-Data of giant clearcuts: 46°30’55.5″N 23°01’06.5″E

Romania’s National Parks Deliberately Destroyed by State Forestry Managers

Investigative video footage reveals scandalous logging in Romania’s Cheile Nerei-Beusnita National Park

New video evidence published today by environmental NGOs Agent Green and EuroNatur Foundation clearly demonstrates that forest destruction in Romania’s Cheile Nerei-Beusnita National Park is comprehensively out of control. Logging of old growth forests is being deliberately driven by state forest enterprise Romsilva. At least 60 percent of the national park is being treated like a logging site, not as a protected area. Agent Green and EuroNatur Foundation call on the Romanian Ministry for Environment to immediately stop commercial logging in national parks and to dismiss Romsilva from managing protected areas.

Agent Green investigator and journalist Andrei Ciurcanu witnessed the scandalous logging in old forests, destruction of protected travertine-rock sites, inexcusable incompetence and ignorance of nature conservation responsibilities by national park staff, and pressure being applied from state foresters on national park managers and scientists in order to increase logging in the national park.

OUT OF CONTROL #ep3 Cheile-Nerei National Park from AGENT GREEN on Vimeo.

Romania hosts an estimated two thirds of the EU’s remaining primary forests. But huge tracts of logging are continuously destroying this important sanctuary of European natural heritage, even in national parks and EU Natura 2000 protection sites. Romania has been systematically ignoring international obligations like IUCN standards and many thousands of hectares of supposedly protected forests have been destroyed in the last 10 to 15 years. Today, large areas of national parks look like badly managed logging sites.

The major driver of this disaster for nature is apparantly Romania’s state forests enterprise Romsilva, which manages 12 of 13 national parks. All of them suffer from heavy logging pressure. It is clear that the Romanian Government turns a blind eye and tolerates enormous levels of commercial logging on more than 50% of the national park surface.

In the investigative video, the former national park director Stefan Dascalu admits that strong pressure was applied from the state forests administration to increase logging in the so called national park “buffer zones”. The planned strictly protected zone of the park was downsized to only 39 percent due to pressure from Romsilva in order to boost logging areas and volumes. Logging operations with large logs and heavy machines even damaged rare travertine formations, which are under protection by EU legislation. When confronted with the evidence, Romsilva foresters pretended to be badly informed and blamed the national park administration: “We do not know what is protected. It is not our job”, they said. The current national park director physically ran away from the investigation team and information requests regarding logging volumes were not answered.

“Logging in Romania’s national parks spreads like cancer. This scandal is out of control. The Government is doing nothing to protect our natural heritage. It is a national shame that Romania continues to destroy some of Europe’s most precious natural heritage“, Gabriel Paun, President of Agent Green said.

“The logging drama in Romania is currently the most pressing nature crisis in Europe, but still largely unseen. The EU Commission has to become immediately active and involved in order to stop the destruction. After the terrible forest fires in many areas of Europe this summer, the proper protection of our last intact natural forests has become even more important“, Gabriel Schwaderer, CEO from EuroNatur Foundation stated.

On April 26 Agent Green handed over 76,120 signatures from Romanian citizens to Environmental Minister and Vice Prime Minister Gratiela Gavrilescu, demanding an immediate logging ban in national parks. Unfortunately no action has taken place.

Agent Green and EuroNatur urge the Romanian Environmental Minister to immediately stop commercial logging in national parks, dismiss Romsilva from managing national parks and other protected areas, implement modern and nature conservation oriented management systems, provide adequate funds to properly manage protected areas and to compensate private land owners in protected areas for nature conservation objectives.

The campaign initiative „Out of control“ exposes the environmental disaster that is the logging and loss of irreplaceable old growth forests in Romania’s national parks. Three new episodes showing the ongoing logging in primeval and old growth forests in Romania’s national parks will be published in the weeks to come.

Here you can view the previous “Out of Control” episodes about the alarming devastation of Romania’s Domogled – Valea Cernei and Semenic – Cheile Carasului national parks.

Protest action by Agent Green in Romania’s wounded Domogled national park