“My mummy protects the trees”

Raluca Nicolae from Agent Green is someone prepared to take on seemingly overpowering opponents. This 36-year-old mother of two gave up a steady job in business to dedicate herself full-time to protecting the ancient forests of Romania. Her goal is to mobilise society to oppose the felling of the forests in the Carpathian Mountains. Her work is supported by EuroNatur.

Romanian Forest Activist
© Nina Brinkmann

Was it difficult to get people on board for the March for the Forests?

Raluca Nicolae: While were getting ready for it, I was disappointed to realise how many people don’t know how important the forests are for us. Most have never even seen a real forest. But on the demo itself it was really different. It felt as though I was suddenly in another country. So many people came up to me and asked me how they could help. I spoke with about 30 of them face to face. After the event, we kept in contact by phone and since then they have been coming to Agent Green’s volunteer meetings. They are serious about this and want to get actively involved in saving the forests.  

Could this be the start of a new movement to protect the forests?

Nicolae: Yes, we want to build a real team of volunteers who are mobilised whenever there is a serious threat to the forest. The authorities have realised that the Romanian population want to see what action the government is taking to save the forests. We need to have more events like the March for the Forests so that those responsible know that we are constantly looking over their shoulder. The forests are getting a louder and louder voice.

Protest in Bucharest

There are more and more demonstrations in Romania to save the forests and stop logging. At the forefront of these is Raluca Nicolae of Agent Green (above the R) who helped organise the protest in November 2019.

Almost 5,000 people took part in the March for the Forests. Is that a lot or not compared with the demonstrations against other things in Romania?

Nicolae: Compared to the protests against the changes to the law on the judicial system, it’s not a lot. But I felt there was a very different energy on the March for the Forests. The people were more committed and were more actively involved than on other demos. The atmosphere was peaceful, and I had the impression that the people there felt this issue gave them a close connection.

Have you ever thought about giving up and just leaving the country as so many others have?

Nicolae: No, for me that’s not a solution. You do have to admit to yourself that Romania has huge problems – the government is corrupt and day after day our forests are being felled. But I don’t want to run away, I want to do something. When someone asks my children what my job is, they say, “My mummy protects the trees.” That feels right to me.

cleared forest areas

A picture of devastation: photo taken from a drone of the extensive logging in the Romanian Carpathian Mountains.

© Matthias Schickhofer / EuroNatur

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