Does World Heritage Status provide protection to Romanian primeval forests?

++ EuroNatur and Agent Green welcome recognition of 24,000 hectares of primeval beech forests in Romania as World Heritage ++ Nonetheless: Destruction of old-growth forests in Romania is most pressing problem for nature conservation in Europe ++

The Carpathian Mountains in Romania are home to Europe’s last paradise forests. © Matthias Schickhofer/EuroNatur
Primeval forests are being cut down even in protected areas, like here in Domogled. © Matthias Schickhofer/EuroNatur

Bucharest, Radolfzell. In a ground-breaking decision, the World Heritage Committee recognized about 24,000 hectares of primeval beech forests in Romania as World Natural Heritage, including them in the list of nature sites with an “outstanding universal value”. The internationally active nature conservation foundation EuroNatur and the Romanian NGO Agent Green compliment Romania on the international recognition of this very valuable part of Europe’s natural heritage.

With this decision, the existing World Heritage Site "Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and old beech forests of Germany" was supplemented by a further 63 beech forest areas in 10 countries with a total area of more than 58,000 hectares. The serial, transnational World Heritage Site is now called "Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe" and comprises a total of 78 areas with a plain of around 92,000 hectares in 12 countries.

However, recent reports on clear-cutting in buffer zones of several World Heritage sites in Romania, which received recognition only two weeks ago, are reason for grave concern. Most seriously affected is the World Heritage site “Domogled – Valea Cernei – Iauna Craiovei”. Agent Green very recently recorded massive logging particularly in the buffer zone of Iauna Craiovei and in the nearby primeval beech forest of Cernisoara. The old-growth beech forests, which have been cut down there, were no less valuable than those inside the World Heritage sites and are also part of the national park Domogled – Valea Cernei and of a Natura 2000 nature protection area.

Prof. Dr. Hans D. Knapp, member of EuroNatur’s presiding committee, is alarmed: “Europe’s last large-scale primeval beech forests are being devastated seemingly with the government’s consent. If logging in buffer zones and areas neighbouring the World Heritage beech forests is not halted immediately, we have to expect that the beech forests of Romania and thus the entire transnational World Heritage Site will soon be on the list of World Heritage in Danger. Destruction of old-growth forests in Romania is currently the most pressing problem for nature conservation in Europe.”

EuroNatur and Agent Green therefore urgently call on the Romanian government and particularly the minister responsible for forest conservation, Doina Pana, to improve protection of the beech forest World Natural Heritage, including all buffer zones, and all other primeval forests in Romania. On paper, all primeval forests are protected in Romania by law, while in reality they are being destroyed before the government’s eyes. This is also true for state-owned forests. About two thirds of the European Union’s primeval forests are located in Romania. Thus, the country has a special responsibility for this unique European natural heritage. EuroNatur and Agent Green call for an immediate moratorium on logging in state-owned old-growth forests.

Further, it is a mystery why the Romanian government so far makes no use of the funds which are available since the beginning of this year to compensate for non-utilization of primeval and old forests. More than 60 million EUR are at hand until the end of 2020 to financially compensate private forest owners who do not exploit ecologically valuable forests. According to recent communications by the Romanian government, only 6 % of the total sum will be spent in 2017. EuroNatur and Agent Green call on the Romanian government to immediately make use of the available funds to effectively recompense private owners of primeval forests.


Background information:
The campaign “SaveParadiseForests“ aims at protecting the most valuable old-growth forests of the Carpathians, particularly Romania. It is jointly coordinated and carried out by the NGOs EuroNatur and Agent Green. More at

Contact information:
Christian Stielow – EuroNatur: christian.stielow(at), +49 7732 92 72-15 (press contact)

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