Tag Archives: Vidraru

Evidence about forest destruction in Vidraru area

Forest and Water Ministry must investigate law breaches by Romsilva and Forest Guards – Agent Green

Bucharest – The Romanian environmental organisation Agent Green published today hard evidence filmed earlier this month proofing abusive logging in Vidraru lake region. For the last 15 years many primary forest stands were destroyed by logging allowed by Romsilva and Ploiesti Forest Guard. Destructive logging involving large scale clearcuts and brutal logging roads has been taking place in both State owned and private forests.

Video evidence on YOUTUBE

The evidence of irregularities presented in videos by Agent Green include logging roads built wildly – involving European money – on steep slopes resulting in erosion, large scale cuttings, dirty streams, permanently full of silt and abandoned logs that could result in floods and land slides potentially endangering the large communist hydro complex of Lake Vidraru. Drone images published by Agent Green illustrate the massive size of the cuttings which were occurring in the past 15 years. In the year 2000 the majority of forests around Vidraru were still in a primary status playing an important role in the protection of the lake. 12.230 hectares of virgin forests were identified. As of today, most of the primary forests around the lake have been degraded or destroyed.

The whole Lake Vidraru area is part of the Natura 2000 site Fagaras Mountains. Article 6 of the EU’s Habitat Directive prohibits deterioration of ecological integrity of natural habitats. Large scale logging and degradation of virgin forests clearly contradicts with the objectives of the Habitat Directive.

“The evidence of Vidraru forest massacre which we publish today cannot be hidden anymore. The official reaction after the action by forest protectors last Friday of both, state forestry Romsilva and Ploiesti Forest Guard, as well as local police, shows that these entities must be investigated by the Ministry of Waters and Forests, the Public Ministry and the Interior Ministry for the suspicion of systematic ignorance of law and potential involvement with organised criminal structures. The fact that there is also a FSC certification does not mean that the cuts were sustainable,” warns Gabriel Paun, president of Agent Green.

Following Agent Green’s international protest on Transfăgărăşan, Romsilva and the Forest Guard limited themselves to superficial reactions about the status of one truck from the thousands who have taken wood from the forests of Vidraru the past 15 years. They refer to the fact that there are papers for a truck checked at Vidraru by Agent Green, although in www.inspectorulpadurilor.ro, an online forestry tracking portal, the truck did not appear in the system neither when it was stopped nor two days later. The reactions of Romsilva and The Forest Guard did not offer any explanation about the forest destruction disaster in Vidraru lake basin.

“Facing the situation on the ground we cannot avoid the reasonable suspicion that the experts of Romsilva and Forest Guard involved in the Vidraru case are not specialists in forestry but rather trying to whitewash law breaches which result in biodiversity loss and threats for national security. The Forests Inspector online platform is an extremely useful tool for civil society that is feared among abusive sectors in forest industry and instead of using it they would like it removed. The Forests Inspector must remain available and the ministry should improve it continually,” Gabriel Paun added.

“Romsilva and the Forest Guard (formerly ITRSV) were informed by a extensive study (Pin Matra project) on December 10, 2004, about the existence of large scale virgin forest areas in Romania. However many of these forests have been destroyed all over Romania in the past 15 years. Instead of proactively protecting these precious forests Romsilva and the Forest Guards obviously played a key role in their destruction. Last week Friday the ministry has sent the same Forest Guard for inspection who is responsible for the ongoing environmental massacre in the Vidraru area. That doesn’t make sense; the Ministry needs to set up this inspection differently. The evidence we present should be considered as a starting point for a large-scale governmental investigation,” Gabriel Paun concluded.

Agent Green urges the Ministry of Waters and Forests:

1. Suspend all logging in the catchment of Lake Vidraru

2. Conduct an extensive investigation with the Ministry of Interior and the Public Ministry into the case of virgin forest degradation, the Natura 2000 site and other protective functions of forests from the entire basin of Lake Vidraru, a strategic site for the national power grid.

3. Carry out all necessary studies in 2017 to include the remaining virgin forests in the Vidraru area into the National Catalogue of Virgin Forests as well as setting up a truly sustainable, close to nature forestry system for the managed forest area.

4. Establish a national moratorium for all areas with potential virgin and cvasivirgin forests and carry out the necessary studies to include them in the National Catalogue of Virgin Forests.

German professor during assessment of clearcuts in natural forest – Vidraru area.

Agent Green activists, scientists and mountaineers stop logging trucks in Romania

Forest protectors call for a logging moratorium in primary forests and urge the Government to prevent a new law abolishing fines for primary forest destruction

Vidraru, Fagaras Mountains, Romania, March 10, 2017: 30 paradise forest protectors from six EU countries including scientists and mountaineers stopped logging trucks this morning preventing them from transporting virgin forest timber out of the Vidraru basin. The area is one of Europe’s most valuable stands of primary forests remains. The forest protectors installed special rescue tents to occupy trees and unfolded large banners stating: “Save Europe’s last Paradise Forests”.

Agent Green, EuroNatur, scientists and Romanian mountaineers call on the Romanian Government to immediately establish a logging moratorium for all potential primary forests, in particular on state property and in national parks.

Gabriel Paun, CEO of the environmental NGO Agent Green said: “We urge the Ministry for Waters and Forestry to make this topic the priority of year 2017!”

“As an initiator of the inclusion of Europe’s last virgin beech forests into the UNESCO World Heritage list, I stand for these last paradise forests – not only with my scientific work, but today also with my own body at the site of destruction. These forests are of an outstanding global natural heritage and must not be destroyed”, said Professor Hannes Knapp from Germany, member of the Presiding Committee of the EuroNatur Foundation.

Two thirds of Europe’s last primary forests are found in Romania. An inventory of the last virgin forests, published in the year 2004 by independent researchers, identified more than 200.000 hectares of primary woodlands. However, in the last 12 years many thousands of hectares of paradise forests have been logged down, to a large extent illegally. The Romanian government has not taken sufficient action to stop this environmental disaster. Today it is unclear how much primary forest is still left, because recent Governments have not been monitoring the development thoroughly.

The remote Fagaras mountain range is one of Europe’s most important wilderness hot spots. According to a field inventory by Greenpeace in 2016 more than a third of the old growth forests in upper Vidraru area have been destroyed in the past years. Forests around Vidraru lake were preserved well until the most recent logging campaigns because of national security interests: they play a vital role in the protection of the Vidraru hydro-energetic complex. Thus the progressing forest destruction also poses a severe risk to humans.

“We are deeply concerned. We cannot afford to lose another hectare of these last paradise places. Maybe the Government will finally take action now as that abusive logging is also threatening national security. We will stay here until the forest minister, Mrs. Adriana Petcu, commits to primary forest protection”, said Gabriel Paun.

“Most EU countries realised too late the crucial importance of primary forests for the future of life. Now almost all of them are gone. Our research team has been conducting scientific studies in numerous Romanian paradise forests. With our research we also want to support preserving what remains in Romania. Each year, we bear witness to massive forest destruction. This destruction must end now! We should not lose the life’s bridge between the past and the future,” said Martin Mikoláš of the Faculty of Forestry and Wood Sciences, Czech University of Life Sciences.

“Like many other colleagues I trained in the wilderness of these mountains to become one of Romania’s leading professional mountaineers, reaching unexplored peaks of the Himalayas. I join the forest protectors today to help save what’s left of this paradise that we are so proud of”, said Zsolt Torok, the Romanian mountaineer of the year 2016.

Despite the strong civil society anti corruption protests which have been evolving in Romania since several weeks there has been an lobby initiative by forest owners and forest industry in the Romanian parliament recently to decriminalise – among others – logging of primary forests. Agent Green, EuroNatur and the forest protectors urge both the Romanian Government and the political parties in the Parliament to halt that disastrous law, which would accelerate forest destruction and add to the reputation damage of the Romanian State. Instead of widening the road for illegal forest destruction the fines should be increased drastically.

Here you find images to be used for free in conjunction with media reports about the non violent protest activity in Fagaras Mountains / Romania on March 10, 2017. The activity is part of the SaveParadiseForests camapaign. 

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Copyright notice: Matthias Schickhofer / EuroNatur

Fagaras Natura 2000 Site, Romania - March 10, 2017: Agent Green and international forest protectors (including scientists and mountaineers) stop logging trucks in Fagaras Mountains Natura 2000 site and call on Romanian Government to take action saving Europe's last large primary forests in Romania.
German scientist Professor Hans D. Knapp supports international forest protectors at an action stopping logging trucks in Fagaras Mountains Natura 2000 site.
Fagaras Natura 2000 Site, Romania - March 10, 2017: Agent Green and international forest protectors (including scientists and mountaineers) stop logging trucks in Fagaras Mountains Natura 2000 site and call on Romanian Government to take action saving Europe's last large primary forests in Romania.
Agent Green and international forest protectors (including scientists and mountaineers) stop logging trucks in Fagaras Mountains Natura 2000 site and call on Romanian Government to take action saving Europe’s last large primary forests in Romania.