Tag Archives: national park

Romania: Protection of some primary forests announced – shortly before national elections

After years of bureaucratic burdens some iconic primary forest – such as Boia Mica valley in Fagaras Mountains – are finally protected. However, studies about 13.000 ha of precious forest are still blocked by the government – and hundreds of thousands of hectares of high nature value forests are still under threat from destructive logging …

The Romanian Ministry for the Environment recently announced a new version of the „National Catalog of Virgin Forests“ on its website. The new version now includes 43.823,36 ha of forests. The „Catalogue“ has been growing by 14.000 ha since the year 2019. This includes 9.500 ha of forests, which were protected strictly already before as UNESCO World Heritage site component parts. Thus, the real enlargement of strictly protected primary forest area in Romania melts down to 4.500 ha.

The environmental organisations EuroNatur Foundation and Agent Green welcome this „long overdue“ last minute step by the government, two weeks ahead of the national elections. Nevertheless, the conservation organizations make clear that 43.000 ha is far below the real number of primary and old-growth forest in Romania. Thus, they conclude that this instrument has obviously failed largely.

Among the newly inscribed primary forest areas there is also the outstanding natural heritage of Boia Mica valley in the Fagaras Mountains Natura 2000 site. This pathless, steep valley harbors 960 ha of untouched primary forest. Boia Mica is one of the wildest and most pristine mountain forests of the EU. However, Romanian forest experts, in partnership with the German Forest University HFR Rottenburg, had been burdeend by a years long bureaucratic back and forth driven forward by provincial forest authorities and the „Technical Commission“ in the Forest Ministry. Luckily, Boia Mica was now finally accepted without further complications.

At the same time, logging of primary and old-growth forests in national parks and UNESCO sites (buffer zones) as well as Natura 2000 sites all over Romania continues at a catastrophic level and without any counter action by the Romanian government.

On November 16, Agent Green succeeded at the Appellation Court in Bucharest in suspending forest management plans in parts of Domogled -Valea national park (and Natura 2000 site) and a neighboring Natura 2000 site. Agent Green has filed a lawsuit against logging pursued by state forestry Romsilva. The court confirmed that the forest management plans are finally suspended. So, logging in state forests in the area concerned is stopped. Conservationists now hope that the precious beech forests – especially in wild upper Cerna valley – will be included in non intervention management zones.

However, despite the High Court decision and the currently running EU infringement procedure against the Romanian state, Romsilva managers started to auction logging permits in 32 plots in the south-western section of Domogled National Park, where logging plans have not been suspended.

EuroNatur and Agent Green call on the EU Commission not to be lulled by this minimal expansion of the “Virgin Forest Catalog”. Clear cuts in protected, natural coniferous forests and the multi-phase clearing of the biodiversity-rich mixed beech forests is continuing unabated. The ‚Catalog‘ currently does not even protect 10% of the 500.000 ha of natural forests that identified in the Primofaro study.  

Especially with the new EU Biodiversity Strategy – adopted unanimously by the EU environmental ministers including Romania – requesting the strict protection of all primary and old-growth forests in the EU, Romania has to make sure that these forests are safe from logging.

Fantastic Boia Mica Valley in Fagaras Natura 2000: after years of struggle with bureaucracy, the valley is finally included in the “National Catalog of Virgin Forests”.
Boia Mica is (hopefully) safe now and the ancient creatures living there (numerous 400 – 500 years old beech trees) will be there for a longer while. However, in the rest of Fagaras Mountains Natura 2000 site forest destruction continues. It has even accelerated.
Natura 2000 areas in Romania are hot spots of forest destrcution. And it is not just large clear cuts in spruce forests that wipe out the unique wealth of primary forests. Also stepwise shelterwood cuttings ultimately lead to the complete removal of ancient habitats and all the rare creatures that have lived there undisturbed for thousands of years. Here: Logging road crossing the UNESCO protected forest “Codrii seculari de la Sinca”.

Thomas Waitz MEP and Agent Green witnessing illegal logging in Romanian Natura 2000 sites – video

Fact-finding trip by Thomas Waitz, MEP, with Agent Green reveals that illegal logging in Natura 2000 areas continues regardless of EU infringement proceedings
 
Thomas Waitz, Member of the European Parliament, and Gabriel Paun, President of Agent Green, are currently (October 10, 2020) on a field mission in Romania checking Natura 2000 sites for compliance with EU Natura 2000 legislation. In a video message, Gabriel Paun and Thomas Waitz reported that they witnessed destructive and illegal logging on locations that are theoretically protected by EU’s Natura 2000 legislation, including Domogled – Valea Cernei National Park.
 
In the Domogled – Valea Cernei National Park / Natura 2000 area, they even discovered logging by the state-owned forest company Romsilva on a state-owned property on which the Bucharest High Court suspended all logging permits earlier this year.
 
In other words: state-paid foresters are pushing forward cutting down of state-owned trees in a national park and Natura 2000 site despite the country’s Supreme Court suspending the forest management plans in the part of the very forest district.
 

At the same time, the European Commission is pursuing infringement proceedings against the Romanian state after EuroNatur, Client Earth and Agent Green filed complaints about the systematic destruction of forests in Romania’s Natura 2000 areas and illegal logging.

 
The fact that the logging continues even against High Court ruling unmasks the green washing by the romanian forest industry: forestry officials and industry-related professors have recently outbid each other claiming that the romanian forestry is doing better and acting more sustainable than the foresters in “the west”.
 
Thomas Waitz and Gabriel Paun did also trace a wood truck from the Natura 2000 Ținutul Pădurenilor site to the factory of Austrian chipboard company Kronospan in Sebes. The yard of Kronospan factory is filled with logs from large trees, mainly beech. Kronospan, which is reputedly the world’s largest particleboard manufacturer, said in relation to this on their website: “We ensure that suppliers do not use wood from national parks, natural preserves, virgin forests and other conservation areas.” This was apparently in severe contradiction to the recent observations. (Comment on Dec. 3, 2020: This sentence has since been removed from the website …)
 
More details you can view on this video:
 
The location of the primary platform where the illegal wood cut in Domogled National Park is loaded in despite the High Court / ICCJ suspended all logging permissions in the area.

Agent Green success: Romanian High Court stops logging of protected old growth forests

State forestry company continued logging despite the High Court has suspended logging permits

The Romanian environmental NGO Agent Green has been filing several lawsuits challenging inappropriate forest management plans in Natura 2000 protected areas to stop the unlawful destruction of old growth and primary forests.Recently, the Romanian High Court of Cassation and Justice suspends several logging plans on more than 30.000 hectares forest land.

Agent Green, EuroNatur and Client Earth have filed EU complaints against the Romanian government because forest management plans in Romania do not comply with the EU Nature directives and the Strategic Environmental Assessment directive. The European Commission has responded to this complaint in February 2020 and launched an infringement procedure against the Romanian state.
The EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030, which was presented by the European Commission in spring 2020, aims to protect all “old growth and primary forests” in the EU. Romania’s forest treasure is one of the most important contributions to this goal – if the ongoing scandalous old growth forest destruction is stopped immediately.
But the ignorance of Romanian forestry about forest protection legislation continues …

However, there are also successes coming in:
Recently, two legal disputes resulted in High Court rulings suspending the management of forest plans in both the Domogled – Valea Cernei National Park and Natura 2000 site as well as the neighboring Natura 2000 site “Nordul Gorjului de vest”. In these protected areas there are still some larger tracks of old growth and primary forests with a very high biodiversity value.

Agent Green has started a lawsuit against the Ministry of Environment and National Forest Administration RNP Romsilva to suspend (“anulment”) logging on an area of almost 20,000 hectares in Domogled National Park – Cerna Valley. The High Court of Cassation and Justice granted an injunctive relief in February this year and suspended the respective forest manegment plans. However, RNP Romsilva appealed against the court ruling. Now, the High Court of Cassation and Justice rejected the revision request made by RNP Romsilva.

This time the decision is final and the old growth forest is safe. Thanks to Agent Green’s lawyer Catalina Radulescu, the forest management plans of Baia de Arama Forest Department, Mehedinti County are suspended until the “anulment case” will be finalized. The primary and old-growth forests of this area are being protected from chainsaws for this period – and hopefully forever.
(Orginal file: here)

Another 14,612.36 hectares of forests are saved from logging in West Gorj Mountains (Mehedinți and Vâlcan Mountains) following a lawsuit initiated by Agent Green. On May 15 2020, the High Court granted an injunctive relief and suspended all logging plans until the “annulement case” – permanent suspension – is finalized. However, logging continued illegally in full ignorance of the court decision.

In July 2020, Agent Green informed the forest guard that the logging was continuing illegally. The officials finally checked the logging locations and ordered to stop any forestry work.

The saved 14,612  hectares of forests overlap with a part of the Domogled – Valea Cernei National Park (and Natura 2000 site) and with the Natura 2000 site “Nordul Gorjului de Vest” in remote Vâlcan mountains.

Agent Green welcomes the decisions of the High Court. At the same time, the NGO expresses serious concerns that the Romanian state-owned forest company Romsilva apparently ignored the decisions of the High Court and shamelessly continued to fell the forest in protected areas, simply ignoring the ruling by the supreme judges.

Unfortunately, the order of the Forest Guard only stipulates that the logging must be stopped, but not when. Neither the damage caused nor fines and penalties are mentioned. Thus, the fight to protect these extremly valueable forests continues as the court’s decision is not final.

Romsilva has already appealed …

(Orginal file: here)

Awesome old growth forests in Vâlcan mountains. How long will they survive?
Destructive (but EU financed) road construction in EU protected Vâlcan mountains.