…Bäume wurden in Rumänien während
der EU-Ratspräsidentschaft Rumäniens
im ersten Halbjahr 2019 gefällt… mehr dazu
Urwaldzerstörung in Europa
Rumänien beherbergt noch große Urwälder. Aber sie werden abgeholzt. Sogar in Nationalparks. Rumänien hat ab Jänner 2019 den EU-Ratsvorsitz. Die Regierung muss handeln. Daher: Petition unterschreiben und weitersagen!
Nirgendwo sonst in der gemäßigten Klimazone in Europa haben so viele Urwälder überlebt wie in Rumänien. Doch sie werden zerstört. Jeden Tag. Unsere Video-Doku's zeigen das Ausmaß der brutalen Zerstörung...
Obwohl im Natura 2000 Gebiet Fagaras-Gebirge gelegen, steht dieser Naturschatz nicht unter Schutz. Die Erhaltung dieser einmaligen Wildnis und Naturtourismus könnte der lokalen Wirtschaft aber weit mehr nutzen als die Abholzung...
Rumänien beherbergt den größten Urwaldschatz der EU. Doch der wird unter den Augen von Regierung und Behörden geplündert. In rasender Geschwindigkeit. Und die aktuelle Regierung attackiert nun auch noch die eigenen Urwaldschutzbestimmungen. Der Hut brennt!
Unberührter Buchen-Tannen-Wald im Natura 2000-Gebiet Fagaras-Gebirge: Im benachbarten Sinca-Tal wurde ein UNESCO-Weltnaturerbe-Gebiet gewidmet. Im Stramba-Tal (Bild) wird der Urwald aber abgeholzt, 2017 wurden weitere Flächen zerstört...
Rotbuchen-Urwälder gibt es nur in Europa. Vor 5000 Jahren war Europa das Reich der Buche. Eine UNESCO Weltnaturerbestätte bewahrt die letzten Reste. Der herrliche Iauna Craiova-Urwald im Domogled Nationalpark ist einer davon.
Unweit des geplanten UNESCO-Weltnaturerbe-Gebiets im Iauna Craiova-Tal im Domogled - Valera Cernei Nationalpark ist vom Urwald so gut wie nichts mehr übrig: Bäume abgeholzt, Boden verwüstet. Diese Wunde wird erst in Jahrhunderten heilen.
Europas Urwälder gedeihen kontinuierlich seit der letzten Eiszeit und werden von der Evolution laufend optimiert. Sie sind daher extrem stabil. Wenn man sie abholzt, dauert es viele Jahrhunderte, bis sie diesen Zustand wieder erreichen.
Der Holzhunger internationaler Groß-Sägewerke und die Gier von Land- und Holzräubern hat die Waldzerstörung in Rumänien in den letzten 10-15 Jahren an die Spitze getrieben. Gesetze wurden missachtet, Verstöße kaum geahndet. Jetzt geht es um die letzten Urwaldflächen!
Der stark bedrohte und streng geschützte Eremit kann nur in Wäldern mit Altbäumen und Totholz überleben. Die letzten Urwälder sind Rettungsinseln für viele unserer natürlichen Mitbewohner. Werden die alten Wälder umgeschnitten, bedeutet das ihren Tod.
In Bäumen und im Boden speichern Urwälder gewaltige Mengen Kohlendioxid. Durch Kahlschläge und Holz-Verbrennung wird das Gas freigesetzt. Urwälder taugen daher nicht als "Bioenergie". Vielmehr tragen sie selber massiv zum Klimaschutz bei.
Forest management plans for Domogled – Valea Cernei national park and Natura 2000 site ignore nature conservation laws
The Romanian High Court of Cassation and Justice suspended forest management plans of forest units Cernisoara, Baia de Arama, Balmes, Ivanu and Olanu in the upper sector of Domogled – Valea Cernei National Park, which is also under protection by EU Natura 2000 legislation. The trial was initiated by Agent Green to obtain the annulment of all forest management plans within the park territory, which are in severe contradiction to provisions from mandatory nature protection legislation such as EU’s Habitats and Birds Directives.
The entire national park has been designated as a Natura 2000 site and as a UNESCO World Heritage site (including a buffer zone). However, not even 50% of the forests in the park are under effective protection and have been included in the strictly protected core zone. The rest of the forest, including highly valuable primary and old growth beech forests, is vanishing progressively due to intensive logging.
State forests enterprise Romsilva is controlling the national park management and they have been issuing logging permissions for a large number of forest parcels in the buffer zone. Even old growth and primary beech forests have been sawed down with official papers.
Euronatur foundation and Agent Green welcome the court decision as a major milestone in their campaign to save the outstanding natural forest heritage of Romania. Only recently, the EU Commission has launched infringement procedures against the Romanian state, following a complaint by EuroNatur, Client Earth and Agent Green.
“Domogled National Park can for the first time since many years breath in peace,” Gabriel Paun from Agent Green said. “It’s just the beginning! Agent Green won the High Court of Cassation and Justice trial against the Ministry of Environment and state forests Romsilva. 19369.24 hectares of Domogled National Park – Cernea Valley can no longer be reached for logging as of today. Anyone who sees a wood truck coming out of UP is asked to immediately notify the police. Transportation would be 100% illegal. Any forestry work now means a forest offense and a violation of court decisions,” Paun added.
The forest management plans for four production units was suspended and with it, all planned cuts. Another trial to achieve anullment of the forest management plans of the production units in lower Cerna valley is still underway and the court decision is awaited.
Agent Green and Euronatur call on the Romanian government to urgently take all necessary measures to ensure that Romsilva and the operating logging companies immediately leave the Domogled National Park and all logging operations will be stopped.
In a next step, the forest management plans have to be changed in a way to fully comply with both Natura 2000 legislation and IUCN Guidelines for Category 2 protected areas, national parks. This means, that commercial forest exploitation must be ended in the whole national park and all natural (old growth and primary) forest stands need to be included in the non intervention zone of the national park.
Furthermore, the non intervention zone fragments must be connected to ensure fullfilment of globally defined IUCN guidelines for national parks. IUCN wording about national parks: “Large natural or near natural areas set aside to protect large-scale ecological processes, along with the complement of species and ecosystems characteristic of the area, which also provide a foundation for environmentally and culturally compatible spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities.”
In the interpretation of the protected area management categories for Europe (EUROPARC and IUCN, 2000), the IUCN guidelines clearly state that management of the IUCN protected category II should eliminate exploitation (of natural resources), including hunting and fishing, and that this is a duty of the authorities responsible for the management of the national park.
Paper submitted by EuroNatur Foundation and Agent Green to the “8th International NGO Forum on World Heritage at Risk” – World Heritage Watch
When one thinks of the natural wonders of Europe, Romania does not necessarily spring to mind as a country home to some of the largest areas of forests of outstanding universal value. However, hosting at least 500,000 hectares of potential primary and old-growth forests (Schickhofer and Schwarz 2019), Romania is easily home to the lion’s share of intact forests in the European Union outside of Scandinavia. Few would appreciate that Romania is home to some of the largest and healthiest populations of large carnivores – bears, wolves and lynx – in all of Europe. However, these ancient forests are being logged before the eyes of the European Union (EU), even at a time when the European Commission has communicated its intent to step up action to protect and restore the world’s forests. Logging, both legal and illegal, is occurring in Natura 2000 sites, national parks and in the buffer zones of UNESCO World Heritage areas, immediately adjacent to the core inscribed properties. The impacts on the integrity of the World Heritage property are undeniable.
In 2007, Europe’s ancient beech forests were first inscribed in the World Heritage List, with sites in Slovakia and the Ukraine forming a cross-border property Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians. This site was extended to Germany in 2011, and then 10 countries successfully added further forest sites to the property – now known as Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe – in 2017. This uniquely complex serial site now covers 92,023 ha across more than 40 protected areas located in 12 European countries. The Romanian component of this 2017 extension (23,983 ha) disproportionately comprised almost 40% of the 10-country addition (61,660 ha) to the existing site. In total, Romanian forests make up 26% of the entire 12- country World Heritage listing, making it by far the largest contribution from a country in the EU.
These component areas were added to the World Heritage List under criteria (ix) of the World Heritage Convention as they are “outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals”. The Romanian components are described, amongst other rich ecological and biodiversity values, as including important refuges of virgin forests, being of a high degree of naturalness, and supporting a vast array of plants and animals including endemic, rare and threatened species (Kirchmeir and Kovarovics 2016).
However, the Romanian forest sites included in the list certainly do not represent all forests of outstanding universal value. Many forests sites of equal natural value as those included in the property are being logged and under threat from future logging activities.
Timeline of significant related World Heritage events
2017 Romania’s forest areas added to Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe World Heritage Listing (Decision 41 COM 8B.7)
2018 Informal IUCN Field Trip to Domogled – Valea Cernei and Semenic – Cheile Carasului National Parks – visits to logging sites adjacent to World Heritage areas
July 2019 Noting with concern, the World Heritage Committee puts Romania on notice for allowing logging within buffer zones of the Romanian components of the World Heritage property. World Heritage Committee requests a Reactive Mission to Romania to assess the situation (Decision 43 COM 7B.13)
Nov. 2019 World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Mission to Romania. Further forest parcels adjacent to the World Heritage auctioned by Romsilva, Romania’s state forest agency only 10 days after the mission is due in Romania.
For decades, scientists and conservationists have been raising the alarm about the scale and intensity of logging in Romania and the government’s abject lack of serious commitment to protecting natural values. The situation today, where ancient forests of outstanding universal value continue to be logged, is the consequence of years of terrible forest governance – over-logging, illegal logging, corruption, mismanagement and a ubiquitous defiance of the rule of law. Even in 2017, when the Romanian sites were nominated to be listed, IUCN and World Heritage Centre specialists raised concern over the Romanian government’s lack of commitment to the World Heritage Convention and the protection of outstanding universal values of natural sites.
As a result, commercial logging which threatens the integrity of the UNESCO site through habitat fragmentation and loss continues. At the time of writing, it has been revealed that more forest areas within the UNESCO buffer zone and adjacent the UNESCO listed site – forests containing values equivalent to those within the UNESCO site – will be auctioned at the end of November 2019 and logged in 2020.
Domogled – Valea Cernei National Park – a case of worse practice
Domogled – Valea Cernei National Park in south-west Romania harbours towering limestone mountain peaks, natural thermal springs, deep gorges, spectacular waterfalls, impressive cave systems, large tracts of ancient, pristine forests and critical habitat for a plethora of protected plants and animals. It contains three component parts of the Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe World Heritage site: Coronini – Bedina, Iauna Craiovei and Ciucevele Cernei. The entire national park outside of the core UNESCO site constitutes the formal buffer zone of the site. The situation in Domogled – Valea Cernei National Park is probably the best understood and also the most serious in regards to commercial logging adjacent the World Heritage site and within the site’s formal buffer zone.
Park management staff openly talk about commercial logging within the park as if it is completely normal. Forest management is intense and commercially driven. It is mainly based upon “progressive cutting” (stepwise removal of all trees of a forest parcel over a period of 10 years) or “conservation logging” (cutting of openings in the forest to stimulate growth of young trees). This “progressive cutting” simply means that rather than an area being completely cut in one go, it is cut over a period of about 10 to 15 years. According to the World Heritage Centre, “a buffer zone is an area surrounding the nominated property which has complementary legal and / or customary restrictions placed on its use and development to give an added layer of protection to the property” (UNESCO WHC, 2017).
In many parts of the park, virgin forests that are supposed to be protected under Romanian law but have not yet gone through the difficult bureaucratic process of listing them, are illegally logged without effective criminal prosecution. Even in the strict non-intervention zones of the park, illegal logging has taken place.
In 2017, logging and road cutting was identified in virgin forests in the upper catchment of the pristine Cerna River. More recently, excursions to the park – including with members of the European Parliament, and during an informal visit with the European director of IUCN – have revealed firsthand the devastating commercial logging within the park. Logging progresses into the remotest areas of the park where the last strongholds of ancient beech forests are found. Only in the spring of 2017, a new logging road was cut in the Radoteasa valley, in the middle of a large untouched forest landscape, which is located between two UNESCO World Heritage site component parts.
As has been previously communicated to IUCN and the World Heritage Centre, logging is happening at the immediate border of the UNESCO World Heritage site. In November 2019 Romanian conservationists witnessed recent logging activity at the border of the Iauna-Craiova component part of the UNESCO World Heritage property. The beech forests neighbouring the property – and earmarked for logging – are similar to the forest inside the World Heritage component part and share the same outstanding universal value. Even though they exist within the national park, they are not protected from logging.
Domogled – Valea Cernei National Park is also a designated EU Natura 2000 site. Nevertheless, irreplaceable primary and old-growth forests are continuously being degraded and deteriorated with approval of the national park administration and Romsilva, Romania’s state forestry agency.
These future logging plans, supported by the previous Romanian government, represent a clear disregard for UNESCO values and for the World Heritage Convention. It is not clear yet how the new government will deal with the progressing logging issue in Romania’s protected areas. Any deliberate damage to a component part in one of the participating countries threatens the 12 country property as a whole and the Romanian government’s ongoing logging plans, which undermine the entire property, could lead to the property being listed “In Danger” in the future.
Romania’s ancient forests are a true treasure of European natural and world heritage. Urgent intervention is required to ensure that as much of what remains of them is protected for all time.
In addition, the issue of logging in buffer zones of World Heritage Areas is not isolated to the Romanian World Heritage component sites.
We therefore request the World Heritage Committee to urge the World Heritage Centre and advisory bodies to set standards for buffer zone management that clearly prohibit industrial exploitation use of recourses – such as commercial logging – within buffer zones of World Heritage properties. Natural habitats deserve reliable protection also in buffer zones, in particular when they are of similar value like the ones included in the UNESCO properties itself.
We encourage the World Heritage Committee to support the protection of Romania’s ancient beech forests of outstanding universal value.
We respectfully urge the WHC to request the Romanian government to uphold the values of the World Heritage Convention through the following actions:
· 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 and world’s best practice management prioritises the protection, promotion and restoration of natural ecosystems, not the exploitation of natural resources.
European Commission (2019). EU Communication (2019) on Stepping up EU Action to Protect and Restore the World’s Forests, 23 July 2019, viewed 6 November 2019,
Kirchmeir, H. and Kovarovics, A. (eds.) (2016). Nomination Dossier “Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe” as extension to the existing Natural World Heritage Site “Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany” (1133bis). Klagenfurt, 409p
Schickhofer, M. and Schwarz, U. (2019). PRIMOFARO. Inventory of Potential Primary and Old-Growth Forest Areas in Romania. Report for EuroNatur.
UNESCO World Heritage Centre (2017). Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention
++ UNESCO and IUCN representatives in the forest of the Carpathians ++ Forest conservationists have already referred to clear cuts in UNESCO buffer zones and national parks ++ Tactics of concealment by the state forestry company Romsilva prevented ++
A delegation of representatives of UNESCO and IUCN visited the paradise forests in the Romanian Carpathians. The reason was a so-called “reactive mission”, which serves to report on the conditions of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. At least at the meeting on 18.11.2019 in the Baile Herculane forest in Domogled – Valea Cernei national park, two activists of Agent Green were present. From the Romanian side, among others, the
head of Romsilva, Mihailescu, as well as numerous foresters and two delegates of the Ministry of Environment were present at the meetings.
The four main topics of discussion on Monday were the construction of the national road DN66A, the forest areas in the UNESCO World Heritage buffer zones as well as pasture management in these and planned hydropower plants in Romania.
EuroNatur and Agent Green were not invited for an excursion to the forests. Probably, so that Romsilva could only show intact forests to the representatives of the international institutions to underline their lies that in Romania’s forests everything is in order. To prevent this, however, EuroNatur and Agent Green had previously sent a letter to the delegation informing them with background information and information on nearby clear cuts, so that they could demand a visit to these areas as well. Thus, the representatives could also see the fatal reality in Romania’s forests. They visited, for example, the clear cuts in the Craiova valley and the Oplesata mountain peak, which border the UNESCO core zones. The delegates also visited the Arjana and Dobraia areas, where they could vitness the consequences of the recent forest fires in the Domogled national park. The days before, they had visited the area in Ciucevele Cernei, where in July 2019 EuroNatur and Agent Green protested together with Robin Wood against the construction of the national road DN66A. The construction of the road would cause massive destruction of valuable forests. The UNESCO and IUCN delegation also reiterated the need for a comprehensive environmental impact assessment of the impact on forests in these areas before construction continues.
In the discussion, Agent Green activists were able to highlight the numerous other deforestations in UNESCO World Heritage buffer zones as well as the lack of implementation of the IUCN criteria for at least 75% core zones in national parks. Already in July, Romania was criticised by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for the handling of its parts of the World Heritage sites. EuroNatur executive director Gabriel Schwaderer already expressed his concerns about the World Heritage Site at that time: “We have to fear that this extraordinary World Heritage site will soon be classified as ‘endangered’ – and this would include the German parts. The management of the Romanian areas has not improved in recent years, and now there’s a pressing need to take remedial action. The World Heritage Committee is already entering escalation level 1 by announcing to carry out a re-assessment of the World Heritage areas. We hope that this pressure will finally make the Romanian government rethink. Romania is hosting an ancient forest treasure that has long been lost almost everywhere else in Europe”.
All in all, the visit showed that both UNESCO and IUCN are keeping an eye on what is happening in Romania’s forests. Representatives of both institutions urge both a more comprehensive assessment of the impact of infrastructure projects on forests and a better management of this natural resource. They call on Romania to step up its protection efforts. A detailed report by the delegation, which will hopefully contain these points with clear statements, will follow shortly.