Agent Green calls on Romanian Ministry for Water and Forests to improve virgin forests identification
The Romanian environmental NGO Agent Green published a surprising discovery: A field inventory of forests in the Romanian Carpathian, owned by Holzindustrie Schweighofer, identified 430 hectares of virgin forests and at least 250 hectares of forests with special ecosystems. These forests have not been previously identified by any official mapping  which shows that the Romanian Government must improve its methodology for identification of virgin forests. The studies, which were carried out by forest experts recommended and assisted by Agent Green in the period May – October 2017, will be submitted gradually to the Romanian authorities in order to get these forests under the protection regime of the “National Catalogue of Virgin Forests”. The paradise forests are located in Arges, Buzau, Neamt, Valcea and Hunedoara counties.
“It is a pleasant surprise that so many beautiful and precious untouched forests are still standing. Their beauty and biodiversity are stunning. It looks like the rain forests from Jurassic Park. The fact that most of them have not been known by any official inventory so far is an indicator that nobody knows how many virgin forests have been lost and how many there still are in Romania. It is also a call for the forest ministry to create a better methodology to identify virgin forests”, Gabriel Paun, founder of Agent Green, said.
All identified paradise forests are located in mountain areas at altitudes between 980 and 1475 m and are mostly mixed forests of beech, fir and spruce. The researchers discovered that the forests are much older than in the official forestry inventories. The boundaries of each forest body have been clearly described on the map and received a detailed description and relevant photographs. The elements of flora and fauna have been described in detail, including the locations of the reproduction spots for amphibians and reptiles or the nests of the birds and large mammals.
If the identified primeval forests and special forest ecosystems will be validated by the Romanian Ministry for Water and Forests to enter the “National Catalogue”, then the forestry management plans will have to be adapted accordingly to exclude these forests permanently from wood harvesting.
Agent Green has been campaigning to improve the forest policies of Holzindustrie Schweighofer since more than a decade. The company agreed in recent times to refuse wood from virgin forests and national parks and to develop a transparent traceability system to prove its commitments to the wide public . The company staff was very open and supportive during the field studies offering researchers unrestricted access to all their properties and documents.
In order to clarify or to prevent arising interpretations, Agent Green points out, that the structured dialogue between the company and the NGO is not necessarily a permanent one, and that it did not and will not involve any direct or indirect funding of the organization.
“There is one important milestone left in this project, the governmental recognition and inclusion of the precious forest stands in the ‘National Catalogue of Virgin Forests’. Meanwhile we hope that this positive project will inspire other private forests owners to conduct the necessary expert studies about virgin forests on their property. If they do so, they will receive yearly compensation payments from the government for the preservation of their virgin forests”, Paun concluded.
Notes to editors:
 Veen, P.; Biris, I.-A. (Eds.), 2004: “Inventory and strategy for sustainable management and protection of virgin forests in Romania”, PINMATRA project, co-financed by the Dutch Royal Society for Nature Conservation KNNV and recognized as the Romanian official mapping of virgin forests in MO 3397/2012