Tag Archives: romania

More justice for murdered foresters through international pressure

In an international petition, an alliance of nature conservation organisations called for more justice and an impartial investigation into the murder of Liviu Pop, forest ranger and forest protector in Romania. The petition was now successful: Thanks to the great solidarity, the case is now transferred to the Romanian Supreme Court in Bucharest.

A few weeks ago, two Romanian forest rangers were killed in just one month. Both had worked to protect the forests and reported illegal deforestation. The first of them was Raducu Gorcioaia, who has been working to preserve Romania´s forests for many years. He was, only a few days later, followed by Liviu Pop, who left behind a wife and three young children. Both wanted to uncover illegal deforestation and paid for it with their lives.

The extent of crime in Romania’s forests is shocking. Not only are 20 million cubic metres of wood logged illegally every year – even in protected areas – but foresters and conservationists are also brutally attacked and sometimes even killed. In the plast 5 years alone, 6 murders and over 650 attacks have been registered by the Romanian Forestry Union.
Together with Declic, Greenpeace Romania and WeMove, EuroNatur and Agent Green demanded justice for the murdered rangers. With the help of a petition they asked for international support. In just a few days, the petition was signed by over 100,000 people. The case of Liviu Pop´s murder was first dealt with in by the  prosecuter´s office in Maramures, where Pop lived and was found dead in the forest. However, a connection was suspected between the responsible prosecuter, the suspected murderers and the profiteers of the illegal timber business. As the court in  Bucharest is believed to be impartial the organisations demanded that the investigations are continued there.

Even before we were able to hand over the petition, the pressure was strong enough: On 22. November 2019, the Prosecutor General decided that the case would be transferred from the Maramures Court to the Romanian Supreme Court in Bucharest.
“We are happy that Raducu Gorcioaia and Liviu Pop as well as their families and friends will now have the chance for a fair prosecution of the case and thereforemore  justice. Nevertheless, the problem in Romania’s forests has not yet been solved. As long as corruption, mafia-like timber trading and illegal logging are common in Romania, foresters and conservationists are not safe. Romania urgently needs to consistently tackle illegal practices and corruption in the forestry sector. This is the only way to protect the forest and the people in Romania who are committed to its protection”, says Gabriel Schwaderer, Executive Director of EuroNatur.

 

Here the official announcement.

Fresh logging in Domogled national park ©Alexandru Teleaga

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