Tag Archives: Government

Romanian EU Presidency 2019: Eyes on Romania – and the virgin forest destruction

EuroNatur and Agent Green call on Romania and EU to turn ignorance into action. Counter shows forest destruction in real time.

Romania is hosting the Presidency of the EU Council until 30th of June – for the first time since its EU accession. EuroNatur Foundation and Agent Green take this opportunity to draw international attention to the escalating logging crisis: Romania´s vast virgin and natural forest remains vanishing at a frightening speed. A counter will showcase the number of trees cut illegally during Romania´s EU presidency.

„Until today, no appropriate action has been taken to stop this dramatic loss of outstanding nature; neither by Romania nor by the EU. Therefore EuroNatur and Agent Green will put an unmissable public spotlight on the Romanian forest drama. A counter will showcase the logging disaster in numbers of trees cut illegally and actions will come along“, Gabriel Paun, president of Agent Green says.

Romania hosts an estimated 100.000 – 200.000 ha of virgin forests, the biggest share of this almost extinct ecosystem in the EU. Solid figures do not exist. In December 2018, secret kept data from Romania’s second Forest Inventory were leaked to media. These figures show a catastrophic scale of illegal logging as the annual wood cut in Romania is about 38 Mio m3, whereas legal cut (as laid down in forest management plans) is only 18 Mio m3 per year.

This means: the illegal logging volume in Romania is obviously larger than the legal one.

This is unprecedented in the EU and should be halted immediately. And logging is also happening in protected areas, such as Natura 2000 sites. EuroNatur and Agent Green will highlight this large scale breach of EU legislation with a logging counter following the Romanian EU presidency as well as civil society actions, reminding politicians and delegates that European natural heritage in Romania gets lost every minute.

Between January and June several council meetings, an EU summit and numerous other events will take place in Romania. Today, the presidents of the European Commission, the European Council, the European Parliament and the Commissioners’ College (all EU commissioners) will visit Bucharest for the official launch ceremony and an initial meeting with the Romanian government.

The government will most likely present a bright and polished image of the country. Hopefully the presidency will also lead to increased attention on Romania’s down sides: corruption, attempts by the current government to weaken anti-mafia prosecutors – and the logging disaster.

„We will ensure that this biggest nature crisis of the EU will no longer be ignored and our actions will show that this is an important topic also for the European society“, Gabriel Schwaderer, Executive Director of EuroNatur Foundation announces. 

*** EuroNatur and Agent Green call on all European citizens to take action – and to support the petition, sign up for the newsletter and action alerts and to join the movement. More details about activities will be published soon…***

Numerous activities will remind politicians at the forest crisis in Romania. Please sign up to our newsletter – and join!

Does World Heritage Status provide protection to Romanian primeval forests?

EuroNatur and Agent Green welcome recognition of 24,000 hectares of primeval beech forests in Romania as World Heritage

Nonetheless: Destruction of old-growth forests in Romania is most pressing problem for nature conservation in Europe

Bucharest, Radolfzell. In a ground-breaking decision, the World Heritage Committee recognized about 24,000 hectares of primeval beech forests in Romania as World Natural Heritage, including them in the list of nature sites with an “outstanding universal value”. The internationally active nature conservation foundation EuroNatur and the Romanian NGO Agent Green compliment Romania on the international recognition of this very valuable part of Europe’s natural heritage.

With this decision, the existing World Heritage Site “Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and old beech forests of Germany” was supplemented by a further 63 beech forest areas in 10 countries with a total area of more than 58,000 hectares. The serial, transnational World Heritage Site is now called “Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe” and comprises a total of 78 areas with a plain of around 92,000 hectares in 12 countries.

However, recent reports on clear-cutting in buffer zones of several World Heritage sites in Romania, which received recognition only two weeks ago, are reason for grave concern. Most seriously affected is the World Heritage site “Domogled – Valea Cernei – Iauna Craiovei”. Agent Green very recently recorded massive logging particularly in the buffer zone of Iauna Craiovei and in the nearby primeval beech forest of Cernisoara. The old-growth beech forests, which have been cut down there, were no less valuable than those inside the World Heritage sites and are also part of the national park Domogled – Valea Cernei and of a Natura 2000 nature protection area.

Prof. Dr. Hans D. Knapp, member of EuroNatur’s presiding committee, is alarmed: “Europe’s last large-scale primeval beech forests are being devastated seemingly with the government’s consent. If logging in buffer zones and areas neighbouring the World Heritage beech forests is not halted immediately, we have to expect that the beech forests of Romania and thus the entire transnational World Heritage Site will soon be on the list of World Heritage in Danger. Destruction of old-growth forests in Romania is currently the most pressing problem for nature conservation in Europe.”

EuroNatur and Agent Green therefore urgently call on the Romanian government and particularly the minister responsible for forest conservation, Doina Pana, to improve protection of the beech forest World Natural Heritage, including all buffer zones, and all other primeval forests in Romania. On paper, all primeval forests are protected in Romania by law, while in reality they are being destroyed before the government’s eyes. This is also true for state-owned forests. About two thirds of the European Union’s primeval forests are located in Romania. Thus, the country has a special responsibility for this unique European natural heritage. EuroNatur and Agent Green call for an immediate moratorium on logging in state-owned old-growth forests.

Further, it is a mystery why the Romanian government so far makes no use of the funds which are available since the beginning of this year to compensate for non-utilization of primeval and old forests. More than 60 million EUR are at hand until the end of 2020 to financially compensate private forest owners who do not exploit ecologically valuable forests. According to recent communications by the Romanian government, only 6 % of the total sum will be spent in 2017. EuroNatur and Agent Green call on the Romanian government to immediately make use of the available funds to effectively recompense private owners of primeval forests.

EuroNatur and Agent Green welcome UNESCO World Heritage inscription of European beech forests

World Heritage Committee’s decision must give boost to primeval forest protection all over Europe – in particular in Romania

Radolfzell – The international foundation EuroNatur and Romanian environmental protection organisation Agent Green welcome the decision by the World Heritage Committee to inscribe 63  primeval and ancient beech forests and forest clusters to the UNESCO World Heritage List. This decision acknowledges the “outstanding universal value” of (endemic) European beech forests as a unique natural phenomenon, how a single tree species can shape large parts of a whole continent. The newly inscribed forest areas include the first ever Natural Heritage Areas of Austria – Wilderness Dürrenstein and Kalkalpen national park. In Romania paradise forests such the EU’s largest primeval beech forest of Nera Springs reserve (Semenic national park), parts of Domogled and Cozia national parks as well as Sinca and Slatioara secular forests in Romania are now certified by the World Heritage Committee.

“This is a historic move. Never before have so many different components, involving 10 nations, been inscribed to the World Heritage list. This is also a big step forward for international cooperation in nature conservation. And it is a strong signal for protection of Europe’s last primeval forests. Hopefully this decision leads to a turbo boost for forest conservation efforts all over Europe,” Gabriel Schwaderer, executive director of EuroNatur Foundation stated.

Improved forest protection is desperately needed, because ancient and primeval forests are under ongoing threat by logging in numerous European countries due to bioenergy and timber demand. In particular in Romania primeval forests are still being destroyed on a grand scale. The World Heritage list only considers areas with established protection status. But ten of thousands hectares of primeval forests in Romania do not yet have sufficient protection. “Romania must take protection of primeval forests in both state and private property seriously. The recent push by the new Government to dismantle its own forest protection laws is very much worrying. Logging of paradise forests in the surrounding of the new UNESCO World Heritage Areas must be halted immediately. IUCN explicitly filed critique about weak protection in some buffer zones of the designated World Heritage areas. Just outside the Sinca secular forest World Heritage Area, logging in primary forests, which are identical to the forest inside the reserve, continues. We call on the new Romanian Government to speed up and finalise the population of the ‘National Catalogue of Virgin Forests’ and ensure full law enforcement,” Gabriel Paun, president of Agent Green, said. 

Romania hosts the largest remains of primeval and ancient forests of Europe. Nera Springs virgin forest (Semenic national park) is the biggest untouched forest stand of the EU (except Scandinavia).  The world is currently looking at the disastrous logging and the deliberate destruction of precious forest stands in the buffer zone of the Bialowieza national park and UNESCO area. The strict core zone of the park protects the biggest lowland primeval forest  of Europa. The tragic and stubborn logging campaign by the Polish Government is a provocation and negative prejudice for environmental protection in all Europe. Thus it needs to be stopped now.
However, almost out of sight, in Romania primeval forest is vanishing day by day on a much larger scale. Only international attention and decisive action can stop that ongoing environmental disaster in Europe.

Sinca secular forest is part of the new World Heritage inscription. However, logging in surrounding primeval forests continues. EuroNatur and Agent Green call on the Romanian Government to take protection of primeval forests seriously.
Brutal logging of primeval beech-fir forest less than 500 meters upstream of the designated UNESCO site Sinca secular forest.
Majestic primeval beech forest in upper Stramba valley, close to the UNESCO listed Sinca secular forest (photography taken in July 2016). This paradise forest stand is not existing any more, it was logged (“thinned”) recently, despite NGO-complaints calling on authorities and the Government.
Heavy logging in the heart of Domogled national park, also at the borders of the new UNESCO World Heritage Area “Iauna Craiove”. The images (screenshot from Governmental website “Forest Inspector”) shows the number plates of trucks transporting the timber out of the valley. The logged forest is largely identical with the primeval stands inside the reserve. In Domogled national park huge areas of paradise forests are not included in the strictly protected zone.