Tag Archives: romania

Longo mai organized a day dedicated to the forests: “We need the forest and the forest needs us”

On Sunday, 03.11., Longo mai had organised a theme day on forests which took place in Basel (Switzerland). The event focused mainly on the situation of forests in the Carpathians. The occasion was the support of the campaign “Free Svydovets” which is committed to the preservation of a near-natural forest in the Ukrainian Carpathians. Unfortunately, this valuable forest is threatened by construction plans for a planned ski resort.

Since Ukraine imposed an export ban on roundwood (unprocessed wood that has only been cut into sections) in 2015, many observers suspect that the exchange of timber on the Romanian-Ukrainian border has increased massively. There is much to suspect that roundwood is being smuggled from Ukraine to Romania for resale. In addition, roundwood is probably declared and exported as firewood in the Ukraine, but then, once outside Ukraine, sold as roundwood again (roundwood is much more expensive than firewood). The overexploitation of forests in the Carpathians, both in Romania and in Ukraine, threatens the last primeval and natural forests in Europe.

The clear cuts in Ukraine, however, are not only due to illegal timber trade; the ancient forests are also being logged for big tourist projects. For example, the Svydovets mountain massif, which is characterised by old and species-rich forests, is to be almost completely cleared and to be replaced by a gigantic ski resort. There, 28000 hotel beds, supermarkets and even an own aerodrm are plannd to be built. This is outraging idea is planned by the oligarch Igor Kolomoiski, who already owns a ski resort on the neighbouring mountain.

Svydovets includes the 3000ha beech forest area “Carpathian biosphere reserve Svydovets” protected by UNESCO, which is also a part of the transnational world natural heritage “Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe”, which also includes a large part of the Romanian beech forests as well as small areas from Germany (e.g. Jasmund and Hainich National Park). Although the resort is planned to be a few metres away from the World Heritage Site (600m according to the activists at the event), it is very likely that the forest will still suffer from the ecological consequences of the construction and operation of the resort.

The mountain massif with its alpine pastures, natural lakes and old forests is home to 93 endangered (national red list) animal and plant species, including brown bear, lynx, capercaillie and Carpathian newt.

Free Svydovets has launched a petition that can be signed here: https://freesvydovets.org/en/

Additionally, the issue of the safety of foresters and activists also played an important role in the event. Forest conservationists and foresters in the Carpathians are under massive threat: In Romania, two foresters/rangers that have been combating illegal logging have been murdered in recent weeks. Unfortunately, these are not single cases: The Romanian Forest Union has registered 650 attacks and 6 murders of forest workers and rangers in the last five years. The Ukrainian activists* reported that the population of the surrounding villages in Svydovets are massively intimidated and therefore do not defend themselves against the large-scale project.

There is an urgent need for the governments of Ukraine and Romania to ensure and fully implement the laws on forest protection. Since Romania also disregards EU nature conservation law, the EU Commission also has an important role to play.

Because we need the forest and now the forest needs our help!

 

The event was organised by the Longo mai cooperative. Speeches were given by the author Ernst Zürcher (“The Trees and the Invisible”), the two representatives of the Free Svydovets campaigns Iris and Oreste del Sol as well as Dr. Lukas Straumann (Bruno-Manser Fonds) and two representatives of the Longo maï Cooperative Treynas in the French Massif Central, who are committed to sustainable forest management there.

Presentation of the Campaign “Free Svydovets” © Janinka Lutze
One presentation slide showing the location of Svydovets © Janinka Lutze
Many interested people at the event © Janinka Lutze
Information material on forests in Romania and Ukraine © Janinka Lutze

We need action now! Romanian citizens joined forces in the street to protest for better protection of Europe’s last primary and old-growth forests

More than 4.000 people in Bucharest and several thousand from other cities in Romania and also in Europe protested on Sunday, 03rd November, against illegal logging and criminal violence on forest rangers in Romania.

The Forest March, a peaceful protest, was initiated and organized by three Romanian environmental organizations – Greenpeace, Agent Green and Declic. Additionally, other protests were voluntarily initiated in more than 20 other Romanian and European cities such as Brasov, Cluj, Timisoara, Corabia, Iasi and Zürich.
People marched toward the ministry and chanted „Thieves” and „Ministry of deforastation” and carrying signs which said „Forest is life”, „Stop the logging mafia” and „Climate emergency”.

The current Romanian forests situation is critical and time is running out to save these natural treasures in Romania. Protesters requests that Romanian authorities act immediately and push harder against illegal logging of these precious forests. According to the PRIMOFARO report (commissioned by Euronatur), Romania still shelters more than 500.000 ha of primary and old-growth forests. These are extremly valuable forests, for biodiverstiy conservationa and for climate security as well as for different supports for the livelihodd of the local population. For this reason, many Romanians joined forces in the street and asked the Ministry of Water and Forests to put an end to illegal logging and to strictly protect the big Romanian parts of Europe’s last primary and old-growth forest.

The Forest Rally had an enormous international echo, big media like BBC and Reuters have written about this green movement and also environmentalist Leonardo Di Caprio shared a picture on his Instagram page/account expressing concern about the serious situation in Romania.

© Greenpeace Romania

 

Live video from the protests on 3rd November 2019: https://www.facebook.com/agentgreen.ro/videos/449684045951366/

Here are some links to media that reported about the protest:

1. Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-romania-protests-logging/thousands-of-romanians-protest-against-illegal-logging-attacks-on-forest-workers-idUSKBN1XD0HZ
2. BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-50287999?fbclid=IwAR3V5DwX0d9mitaqUb8f2Ea7GWn4NiOZthZJNcmCkzAN9OQKLa0z85vsnK4
3. Romanian Insider: https://www.romania-insider.com/forest-march-november-2019
4. VaticanNews: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/world/news/2019-11/romania-demonstrations-anti-logging.html?fbclid=IwAR1YeZUVItsCf0vIlsOV4sSJHG77UF3H9I3Si_xWiq7luxhMDJIBuxgT-44

 

© Greenpeace Romania
© Greenpeace Romania
© Greenpeace Romania

International NGOs condemn the assassination of Romanian foresters and call for action against illegal logging

A long list of leading non-governmental organizations from Romania and all across Europe sent a letter to the Romanian President Klaus Iohannis today expressing concern about the criminal developments in the Romanian forests and urging action to better protect these valuebale ecosystems. Only recently, two foresters were killed and there is evidence that illegal logging is being carried out in all parts of the country, even in old growth and primary forests and in EU protected areas.

The full letter, including all references and all 42 signatories, can be downloaded here as pdf: NGO letter condemning killing of forest defenders

This is the text of the letter:

To President Klaus Iohannis of Romania and the Government of Romania,

We, civil society colleagues in Romania, across Europe, and beyond, were shocked and dismayed to learn of the killing of Liviu Pop, a Romanian forest ranger who was out investigating illegal logging in Maramures, Romania, when he was shot dead. His death comes shortly after that of Raducu Gorcioaia, another forest ranger who was murdered in the forest district of Pascani earlier this month. Both are part of a long series of violence against forest rangers and activists.

These deaths, in any circumstances, are disturbing. Yet the fact that these individuals and many others have to put their personal safety on the line in order to defend Romania’s old-growth forests at a time when the importance of forests for climate action and biodiversity conservation is clear, and when forest protections are already included in Romanian law, is unforgivable. We condemn these killings in the strongest terms possible.

Romania’s forests are at threat, and forest protectors and policy-makers alike know this. Romania’s National Strategy and Action Plan on Biodiversity Conservation defines uncontrolled logging of natural forests as one of the major threats to ecological equilibrium in many mountain watersheds. According to JRC’s Wood Resource Balance Report to the EU, a concerning 43% of timber in Romania’s wood resource balance in 2015 came from unaccounted sources. Between 1990 and 2011, 366,000 hectares of forest was illegally logged, and in recent years there has been widespread logging even within ‘protected’ Natura 2000 sites. Furthermore, leaked data from the second National Forestry Inventory (IFN) show that between 2013 and 2018, logging exceeded the allowances in the approved forest management plans by about 20.6 million cubic metres of wood per year. These activities are fuelled by a criminal network which rewards a few at the top at the expense of those at the bottom, as well as at the expense of the country’s highly biodiverse forest ecosystems. This must end.

Not only are Romania’s forests an important element of national culture and natural heritage, but they can and should play a crucial role in Romania’s efforts to meet national and international climate commitments. There is a growing body of research that demonstrates that the protection and restoration of natural and old-growth forest carbon sinks, alongside a reduction in the use of fossil fuels, is a key element of sustainable climate action.

When reviewing Romania’s National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), the European Commission stated that Romania has to “provide additional details on the specific measures to ensure sustainability for biomass supply and use in the energy sector.” Romania must take action to minimize the share of unaccounted sources in its wood resource balance, and should not be able to use solid biomass for energy whilst these environmental and socio-economic issues remain.

Furthermore, both the Romanian government and the European Commission must recognize that the protection of forests inside existing protected areas is a high priority which must be added to the Forestry section of Chapter 4.1. of Romania’s NECP, in order to mirror the commitments that Romania has already made to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Protected areas and old-growth forests must not be logged in order to increase the ‘renewable’ share of the country’s energy mix, especially when burning forest biomass is bad not only for ecosystems but also for the climate. We hope that Romania’s forthcoming National Forestry Accounting Plan will demonstrate how Romania will comply with EU land use and forestry regulation and protect its forests in its 2030 and 2050 plans. Forests are natural carbon sinks, water purifiers and homes for precious nature that must remain standing as a priority.

We call on Romania’s Presidency and incoming Government to publicly condemn the recent killings of Liviu Pop and Raducu Gorcioaia. A thorough and unbiased investigation must be carried out into both cases in order to identify those responsible and to bring them to justice. Steps must be taken to ensure that not only are those who work to defend forests and the environment provided with adequate legal protections, but that those protections are consistently enforced in practice. Furthermore, the Romanian Government must take concrete action to dismantle the Romanian ‘timber mafia’ network, and to strengthen and ensure compliance with legislation relating to forest protection and biomass sustainability.

Given the highly serious nature of this issue, we are coming to you directly with our appeal. We respectfully ask that you take the time to respond to this letter. We expect the Romanian Government and its representatives to move forward with concrete and effective actions to address the situation as soon as possible.

Romania must protect its forests and its forest protectors. If it cannot do that, how can it be sincere about its existing climate and biodiversity commitments?

Yours sincerely,

Gabriel Paun, Agent Green (Romania)
Mihai Stoica, Director, 2Celsius (Romania)
Fataï Aina, Executive Director, Amis de l’Afrique Francophone- Bénin (Benin)
Natasa Crnkovic, President, Friends of the Earth Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Jasminko Mulaomerović, Head of Board, Center for Karst and Speleology, Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Andrey Ralev, Member of the managing body, Balkani Wildlife Society (Bulgaria)
Michelle Connolly, Director, Conservation North, Prince George, B.C. (Canada)
Zdenek Postulka, Czech Coalition for Rivers (Czech Republic)
Martin Luiga, International Communications Coordinator, Eesti Metsa Abiks (Estonia)
Hannah Mowat, Campaigns Coordinator, Fern (EU)
Claude Braun, European Civic Forum (EU)
Sylvain Angerand, Campaign Coordinator, Association Canopée (France)
Frédéric Bedel, Le Syndicat national unifié des personnels des forêts et de l’espace naturel (France)
Gabriel Schwaderer, Executive Director EuroNatur Stiftung (Germany)
Jana Ballenthien, ROBIN WOOD (Germany)
Evelyn Schönheit & Jupp Trauth, Forum Ökologie & Papier (Germany)
Olaf Bandt, Executive Director, Friends of the Earth Germany (Germany)
Sylvia Hamberger, Gesellschaft für Ökologische Forschung (Germany)
Tilo Podstatny-Scharf, President, IYNF – International Young Naturefriends (Germany)
László Marasz, Koordination Dialogplattform Wald & Koordination AG Wälder, Forum Umwelt und Entwicklung (German Forum on Environment and Development) (Germany)
Wolfgang Kuhlmann, ARA (Germany)
Dr Sandra Altherr, Pro Wildlife (Germany)
Kenneth Nana Amoateng , Chief executive director, Abibiman Foundation (Ghana)
Vanda Altarelli, President, SONIA For a Just New World (Italy)
Kaisha Atakhanova, Director of regional program, NGO ARGO (Kazakhstan)
Jane L. Yap-eo, Asia Indigenous Peoples Network on Extractive Industries and Energy (Philippines)
Piotr Skubisz, on behalf of the Institute of Civil Affairs (Instytut Spraw Obywatelskich) (Poland)
Andrey Laletin, Friends of the Siberian Forests (Russia)
Juraj Lukáč, WOLF Forest Protection Movement (Slovakia)
Hemantha Withanage, Executive Director, Centre for Environmental Justice (Sri Lanka)
Julian Klein, spokesperson, Protect the Forest Sweden (Sweden)
Almuth Ernsting, Biofuelwatch (UK)
Steve Trent, Executive Director, Environmental Justice Foundation (UK)
Faith Doherty, Forests Campaign Leader, Environmental Investigation Agency (UK)
United Kingdom Youth Climate Coalition (UK)
Debbie Hammel, Deputy Director, Land Division, Natural Resources Defence Council (USA)
Mary S. Booth, PhD, Director, Partnership for Policy Integrity (PFPI) (USA)
Adam Collette, Program Director Dogwood Alliance (USA)
Cyril Kormos, Executive Director, Founder, Wild Heritage (USA)
Lucia Amorelli, Director and Campaign Organizer, Earthwise365 (USA)
Coraina de la Plaza, Global Forest Coalition (international)
Tim Cadman BA (Hons) MA (Cantab), PhD (Tasmania), Grad. Cert. Theol. (Charles Sturt), Research Fellow, Institute for Ethics, Governance and Law, Griffith University