Forests are burning all over the world: in the Amazon, in California, in Central Europe last summer – and now also in the Carpathian Mountains. On Saturday, 26th October, fires started in Romania´s largest National Park: Domogled National Park which is also a EU Natura 2000 site and part of a transnational UNESCO World Heritage Site to the protect the most precious primary beech forests of Europe. Fires are still burning and keep destroying valuable forests. Even five days after the first fire started, no adequate fire management is set in place and it seems like central authorities ignore these threats to the forest as well as to local communities.
Agent Green volunteer Alexandru Teleaga, who has discovered the fires while hiking on Saturday, is deeply concerned about the forests and even more frustrated because authorities don´t properly support the communities which try to stop the fires from the ground. He reported: “After I climbed on the Arjana mountain, I saw that the fire was between trees and not supervised and the wind was pushing it towards the forest. At 16 o´clock, I called the emergency number to announce the fire and told them that everything was dry and no water source there for any natural protection of a fire spread. They said they will send a team there. I also informed two employees from the park administration. The fire increased, and when the teams arrived, they were only people on the ground which are not enough to halt such a fast spreading fire. They were only able to reduce the fire a little but had to leave in the evening and leave the fire burning during the night”.
Also, Mihai Gotiu, USR Senator of the region Cluj, wrote on his Facebook account that he had called Raed Arafat, the head of the Emergency Department, several times. But a helicopter – which would decrease the fires way more effectively than the people on the ground – was not sent until now (status: 30th October). Parts of the fires also lie within the Belareca nature reserve. People not only in the area affected by the fires, but around Romania are shocked and wondering why no aerial support is offered. And this even though last week the Vulcan nature reserve was already heavily destroyed by fires.
Of the two fires which started on Saturday one has, luckily, been put out already by the local community and supporters. But a second one in the area of Cornereva is still burning and thus threatening several villages and the forest around them. Alexandru Teleaga further reported: “Sunday the fire increased suddenly very much as the wind blew from south and pushed it towards the mountain. They sent only people on the ground without helicopter. People told me they couldn’t do much from the ground. In the evening the whole mountain Arjana was burning. The forest burned is in the core zone of the national park and is moving towards Prisacina village” Most of the people living in the villages live from subsistence farming. The fire threatenes their fields and livestock. There are discussions going on about a necessary evacuation. Still, it is outraging that these people get only little support to halt these fires to stop the possible catastrophe they are facing.
This area of Domogled National Park holds old-growth and primary forest of outstanding value. Big parts of the very old beech forests have been added to the UNESCO World Heritage siteprotecting Eureopan beech forests only back in 2017. These valuable forests are home to several rare and even endemic plant, animal and fungi species.
All measures to stop the fires and protect the forests and villages must be taken immediately. EuroNatur and Agent Green have been concerned about logging in Domogled National Park (see investigation video “Out of Control” on Domogled National Park here) and are now concerned about these outstanding forest being lost to the fires.