Illegal logging of Romania’s natural forests increases despite court threat

New data reveal that the destruction of the EU’s last large remaining primary and old-growth forests in Romania is continuing unabated.

There is still almost untouched forest wilderness in the Romanian Carpathians. Here, deadwood is also allowed to remain and fulfil its important function in the ecosystem.

© Matthias Schickhofer/EuroNatur

In the Fagaras Mountains, one of the most valuable primeval forest areas on our continent, logging was carried out on a large scale.

© Agent Green

Bucharest, Brussels. The data show that illegal logging has actually increased in one of Europe’s oldest and precious forests in Romania (Fagaras) in the last two years, despite legal action by the European Commission against the Romanian state to combat it.

The report, released by the NGOs Agent Green, ClientEarth and EuroNatur, identifies that the areas most affected by these illegal activities are the highly valuable forests of the Fagaras Mountains. Logging permits in these areas have increased drastically between 2020 to 2021, which has led to a significant deterioration of valuable forest ecosystems.

Following a series of complaints submitted by the environmental organisations, the European Commission launched infringement proceedings against the Romanian state in 2020.

As the Romanian state failed to act, the European Commission issued later that same year, a reasoned opinion –a final call for the Romanian state to address the problem. This was accompanied by a warning to send the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) if Romania did not take immediate action within the next four weeks. However, as the new report clearly shows, almost two years have passed and Romania has yet to comply with the Commission’s demand.

The environmental groups are calling on the European Commission to act immediately and refer the case to the CJEU – building on the ruling from the EU’s highest court in 2018 against the massive logging of Poland's EU protected Bialowieza Forest.

“Unfortunately, nothing good has happened for forests since the commission initiated legal action,” said Gabi Paun, CEO of the Romanian conservation organisation Agent Green. “On the contrary, our field investigations backed by data analysis show that in many precious native forests, logging has even massively increased compared to the time before the EU proceedings. We have submitted the evidence to the European Commission and expect a more serious course of this infringement towards sanctioning the Romanian state’s lack of actions,” added Paun.

Despite discussions between Romania and the Commission, the Member State has so far failed to take any effective steps to halt the destruction of its protected natural forests in Natura 2000 areas.

"The Romanian authorities seem to fool the European Commission. We call on the EU to urgently ensure enforcement of existing EU legislation in Romania. Anything else would be a fatal sign of weakness, not only towards Romania, but also towards other EU countries. Ultimately, Brussels' inaction regarding the continued forest destruction in Romania jeopardizes the entire EU Biodiversity Strategy and the Green Deal," says Annette Spangenberg, Head of Nature Conservation at EuroNatur.

ClientEarth wildlife and habitats legal expert Agata Szafraniuk says: “Romania’s persistent failure to act means the situation in Romanian forests has gone from bad to worse. Despite the European Commission’s warnings, Romania continues to breach EU nature laws by approving logging permits in protected areas of its forests without assessing the impact these activities will have on nature and wildlife. If the Commission does not escalate Romania’s clear disregard of EU nature laws before the EU’s highest court, the future of these important forests looks dire.”


 Background information:

  • In Romania there are more than 500,000 hectares of potential primary and old-growth forests, more than in any other EU Member State (with the exception of Scandinavia). Approximately 300,000 hectares of Romania’s forests are protected by European laws as Natura 2000 sites. Many protected species, such as bears, wolves, black storks, owls, woodpeckers, bats and beetles are dependent on these forests.
  • The campaign SaveParadiseForests is pushing for the protection of the primary and old-growth forests of the Carpathians, particularly in Romania. It is being jointly coordinated and carried out by the NGOs EuroNatur (Germany) and Agent Green (Romania).
  • Link to the report: https://www.saveparadiseforests.eu/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Investigation-into-habitat-degradation-in-Natura-2000-sites_Feb-2022.pdf

 

Contact:
EuroNatur, Christian Stielow, christian.stielow(at)euronatur.org, Tel.: +49 (0)7732 - 92 72 15
Agent Green, Catalina Radulescu, office(at)agentgreen.org, +40745138165
ClientEarth, Bianca Vergnaud, bvergnaud(at)clientearth.org, +32 471 88 70 95

 

How you can help

Press Subscription Service

Select on which of your areas of interest you would like to receive our press releases.

Select press subscription service

RSS feeds

You can subscribe to our RSS feeds to receive all the news on the topics of your choice.

Choose your RSS feed here

News

Environmental groups suing the Albanian authorities for the illegal construction of the Vlora Airport

Environmental groups challenge the contract for the construction of Vlora International Airport as null due to the irregularities and the violation of…

Polish expansion plans could finish the Oder off

++ Government in Warsaw plans to narrow and deepen the German-Polish border river ++ Nature conservation organisations file complaint with EU ++…

EuroNatur Award 2022: A signal of support for primary forest conservation and a show of solidarity with Ukraine

++ Forest conservationists receive the EuroNatur Award 2022 ++ Europe's last primary forests under massive pressure ++ War against Ukraine hampers…

Rejection of hydropower plants in the National Park - North Macedonia revokes concessions

++ A milestone that puts wind into the sails of NGOs’ fight for free-flowing rivers ++ A vital first step to continue the protection of rivers in all…

EuroNatur Award focuses attention on destruction of forests and war in Ukraine

++ Forest conservationists receive the 2022 EuroNatur Award ++ War against Ukraine and its consequences hamper the work of conservationists and…

Last vultures released into the wild in Bulgaria

++ Two female Cinereous Vultures have been released into the wild in Bulgaria ++ Seven-year project has been completed successfully ++ 3rd September…

Environmental Organisations Present Key Requirements for an Oder River Action Programme

Turn the Oder disaster into an opportunity for ecological revitalisation

Oder catastrophe: Completely clarify causes and ensure restoration of the Oder

The environmental disaster in the Oder River is man-made, that much is certain. Decisive steps are needed now.

High risks for hydropower investments in the Balkans

Greenfield large hydropower investments across southeast Europe (1) face major risks and low realisation rates, according to a new report by CEE…

Award for forest conservationists from Germany and Ukraine

++ EuroNatur Award 2022 goes to Antje Grothus, Fedir Hamor and the Free Svydovets organisation ++ Europe's last virgin forests are under enormous…

Albanian Government signs commitment to establish a Vjosa Wild River National Park

++ Albania takes an important step towards protecting the Vjosa River as government signs commitment to collaborate on Europe’s first Wild River…

EU recovery plans – a threat to nature

++ The Recovery and Resilience Facility (EUR 672.5 billion) – claimed by the European Commission to be the main driver for Europe’s ‘green recovery’ -…

Bird conservationists campaign for a safe Adriatic Flyway

++ Bird migration is in full swing ++ Every year, thousands of migratory birds are killed illegally in the Balkans ++ 4th Adriatic Flyway Conference…

World Water Day 2022 - Groundwater: The Liver of our Rivers

The theme of this year’s World Water Day is “making the invisible visible” with a special emphasis on the importance of groundwater.

Bird Flu at Lake Prespa, Greece

The H5N1 avian influenza, or ‘bird flu’, virus has been particularly rampant this winter. The death of thousands of cranes in the Hula Valley in…