Tag Archives: Semenic

“Cosava Mica” virgin forest saved from becoming cheap fire wood

30 experts from 12 European countries call on logging moratorium in ancient forests

AGENT GREEN international press release
Bucharest, 2015 December 8th

The environmental organization Agent Green is happy to announce that “Cosava Mica” virgin forest located in Semenic Mountains, Romania was saved from logging and it is secured for the next 10 years. In this window of opportunity the organization will undertake all necessary steps to include this forest in a national park and UNESCO Natural World Heritage.

“This forest still looks just like Mother Nature created it after last ice age and had absolutely no protection status till now. If not rescued last minute it would have been burning in Italian, Austrian and German chimneys, the main markets for Romanian fire wood. We received last week the official good news that the new decennial management plan of Cosava Mica place the forest in the special T1 category. This means that not a single branch can be removed from this forest”, said Gabriel Paun, President of Agent Green.

“Cosava Mica” is owned by the Romanian state and is administrated by Romsilva, the economical operator that is managing all state forests including natural protected areas. Agent Green campaign to save Cosava started in February 2015 when the organization learnt that Romsilva denied this forest to become part of UNESCO World Heritage. Agent Green submitted the technical folder to protect Cosava at the ministry for environment and started a national petition.

“At the beginning of this campaign Cosava Mica measured 739 hectares. We lost 5.5 hectares meanwhile due to logging at its northern side but 733.5 hectares are now secured”, added Paun.
Forests in general store large amounts of carbon that would otherwise contribute to climate change. Virgin and old growth forests may store even twice as much carbon. They store nearly 300 billion tons of carbon in their living parts (biomass)—roughly 30 times the annual amount of emissions created by burning fossil fuels (FAO data). But when forests are degraded or destroyed, this carbon is released into the atmosphere. From 15 to 19 of November 2015, 30 experts and stakeholders from 12 European countries, who are dedicated to ecological research on and conservation of old and free-willed European Beech forest ecosystems, gathered on the Isle of Vilm and conducted an intensive workshop to exchange recent findings. At the end they called on Governments for a logging moratorium in European old-growth beech forests.

“Virgin forests continuously build up large carbon sinks, especially in the soil. Cascading timber use and sustainable forestry can help to bind CO2 from the atmosphere. But it takes long time to restore the carbon balance of virgin forests. We do not have that time as humankind needs to curb green house gas emission immediately. Thus our last virgin forests, in particular in Romania, need to be protected also because of climate reasons“, said Matthias Schickhofer, book author, journalist and Agent Green senior advisor.

Romania is home for 2/3 of European last virgin forests. 218.000 ha were mapped in 2005 but only 20% have proper protection (“Inventory and strategy for sustainable management and protection of virgin forests in Romania”, 2004; PINMATRA project, co-financed by the Dutch Royal Society for Nature Conservation KNNV).

AGENT GREEN calls on Romanian Government to:
– Include Cosava Mica in the strictly protected area of Semenic National Park and make it a UNESCO World Heritage Area
– Protect all remaining virgin forests till end 2016
– Establish a logging moratorium in all virgin forests as identified in 2005 Veen Ecology study

Cosava Mica, Romania.
Ancient world of Cosava Mica, Romania.

Ongoing chainsaw massacre in Semenic National Park

AGENT GREEN calls on Romanian Government to end logging in national parks

Resita, Romania – February, 2nd 2015

An AGENT GREEN investigation shows that 366.422 cubic meters of wood has been removed from Semenic National Park in the last 6 years (2009-2014). Romsilva, the national state forest manager, has earned at least 8,14 million euros from the sale of this wood.

A letter sent by the Ministry of Environment to AGENT GREEN shows that Semenic still has no approved management plan even though Romsilva has managed this park for the last 10 years. [Letter no. 16545 from 14.10.2014 from Ministry of Environment to AGENT GREEN]. On average, Romsilva has spent only 0.77 million euros to fulfil its management duties in the park in the same timeframe of 6 years [Letter no. 16545 from 14.10.2014 from Ministry of Environment to AGENT GREEN].

“The Semenic mountains shelter Europe’s largest remaining virgin forests of beech in a single area. This landscape is the last genuine example of how Europe used to look after the last glacial era. Surprisingly, the Romanian Government has done nothing to protect it and allows Romsilva free reign in the park”, said Gabriel Paun of Agent Green.

Recently, AGENT GREEN has exposed that the intention of Romsilva is to abandon the administration of four national and natural parks as they no longer bring enough profit from logging due to forest restitution to private owners  that leaves the state with very fewer forests in those parks [Note 4448 from 16.4.2014 Romsilva / Protected Areas Service regarding signing of additional papers to continue administration of national / natural parks by Romsilva].

“Making a profit out of logging in national parks is definitely the wrong motivation to manage a natural protected area. Romsilva exists to make profit. The management of Romania’s parks need an independent leadership with a pro-conservation profile,” said Paun.

Footage taken by AGENT GREEN reveals beech trees several hundred years old being taken from Semenic National Park to a timber sawmill in Bania, Caras-Severin County. This mill produces kiln-dried lumber and sends about 20 large trucks monthly to the Black Sea harbour in Constanta. From here the timber of Semenic leaves overseas to its final destination, Syria. The wood factory in Bania sends the sawdust of Semenic to Kronospan, the world’s leading manufacturer of wood-based panels.

“It is embarrassing that ancient trees from a national park are made into primary products for export. Romania earns almost nothing and exports jobs, not finished wood products,” added Paun.

Semenic is losing virgin forests and nature reserves. For example, 700 hectares of virgin forest in Cosava Mica that were scheduled to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site have been removed from the park, and will are being kept out of the park limits. [Article Romania Curata]. The destruction of Cosava has already begun, as satellite images show. The administration of Semenic National Park (Romsilva – Forest District Resita) also wishes to repeal the Groposu Natural Reserves (879 ha) and Barzavita (2293.8 ha), arguing that these reserves are already affected by logging and they should therefore be converted to forest gardening status.

“The ancient beech forests of Cosava, Groposu and Barzavita are being felled as we speak to achieve a robust profit for Romsilva. We hope that the Ministry of the Environment will distance itself from Romsilva’s objectives of full destruction of a virgin forest that have already started to face the chainsaw,” warned Paun.

The National Agency for Protected Areas (ANAP) is an old project by the Ministry of the Environment, which has been largely forgotten since 2008.

“Born by Governmental Decision in 2008 but marginalized by lack of enforcement, ANAP has the potential to become the sorely-needed independent body made of conservation specialists for protected areas. It should be a top priority for the Romanian Government to make ANAP operational,” concluded Paun.

AGENT GREEN calls on the Romanian Government to ban logging in National Parks, to make ANAP operational and to integrally protect Cosava Mica, Barzavita and Groposu inside Semenic National Parks.

Logging at the edge of Semenic National Park.
Logging at the edge of Nera springs virgin forest in Semenic National Park.