Investigation Video: Primeval Forest Destruction in Romania’s National Parks

EuroNatur and Agent Green: This is currently Europe’s biggest environmental drama!

Brutal destruction of primeval forests in the Domogled Nationalpark © Matthias Schickhofer/EuroNatur
Dense forests and rushing streams: This is the natural side of the Domogled National Park in Romania. © Matthias Schickhofer/EuroNatur

Buchrast, Radolfzell. Most of the EU’s last primeval forests are still to be found in Romania. But they are under immediate threat from ongoing commercial logging, even in national parks and Natura 2000 areas, environmental NGOs EuroNatur and Agent Green claim. Today the NGOs publish the first episode of the investigative video documentary online series “Out of Control”, showing evidence of fresh and brutal logging of primeval forests within the Domogled – Valea Cernei National Park. Agent Green investigators have visited the last untouched valley of the park, which was opened for commercial logging by the forest and park authorities last spring and discovered scandalous devastation of pristine nature.

“The eradication of primeval forests in Romania is Europe’s biggest and most pressing nature conservation drama today. But almost nobody is taking notice”, says Gabriel Schwaderer, CEO of EuroNatur Foundation. “If no action is taken now, many of these valuable forests will be gone within the next 2 to 3 years”, Gabriel Paun, President of Agent Green, explains. EuroNatur and Agent Green call on the Romanian government to immediately halt commercial logging in all Romanian national parks, to include all primeval and old growth forests in national parks in the core zones and to adopt a modern, independent and well-funded national park management system. Also the EU needs to get proactively engaged in saving this precious European natural heritage.

Deliberate old growth forest devastation in Romania’s national parks
In Romania’s national parks, centuries old trees are logged for products such as wood-based panels, firewood, pulp and other products.. In the vast majority of these “protected areas”, commercial logging is present on most of the park’s surface, eating away large areas of precious, biodiversity-rich primeval forests.
12 out of 13 national parks in Romania fail to meet international conservation criteria, which prioritise conservation objectives in management plans and ban industrial exploita-tion of resources. Logging is happening with the approval of the national park administrations and right before the eyes of the Government. The Romanian state does not provide basic funding for the national parks. Most of the national and nature parks are administered and financed by Romanian State Forestry company, Romsilva. Environmentalists and scientists complain that Romsilva dictates a commercial perspective before conservation commitment.

Logging of old growth forests for cheap products?
Recently, the Romanian logging industry with support of the government embellished in hyperbole about an alleged “fire wood crisis”, justifying logging of old growth forests to prevent people from freezing in winter. Only about 3% of Romania’s 6.5 million hectares of forests are old growth or primeval. “To argue that we need to destroy ancient forests because of a sudden ‘fire wood crisis’ is clearly deliberate manipulation of the truth. There are plenty of degraded forests in the country, where extraction of fire wood has a lesser impact on biodiversity and would not breach nature protection obligations,” Gabriel Paun says.

The Romanian Government and EU need to take immediate action

EuroNatur and Agent Green call on the Romanian government to:
– enlarge core zones of the national parks according to international standards (at least 75% of surface)
 - halt commercial logging in all Romanian national parks
– include all primary and old growth forests in national parks in the core zones
– adopt a modern and independent national park management system, following best practice models like in Sweden, Germany or Austria.
– provide private forest owners within the national park boundaries with appropriate compensation

 

Background Information
Domogled–Valea Cernei National Park is the biggest National Park in Romania, covering 62,000 of hectares of rare beauty. It is a sanctuary for flora and fauna. The park is stretched along the beautiful Cerna river and the surrounding mountain ranges, which were covered till recently by mostly untouched beech and endemic black pine forests. Domogled National Park used to be part of Europe’s last Intact Forest Landscape in the temperate climate, but large areas of pristine nature have been lost in recent times. Only one major side valley of Cerna river was left untouched: Cernisoara.
Only 48% of the park’s surface is under strict protection at the moment and that are mainly alpine meadows and steep slopes surrounding the ancient city of Baile Herculane. The pressure of exploitation has already moved into the last untouched stands and has reached old forests at the tree line, close to the alpine area.

Filmmaterial
The trailer of the series
The first episode of "Out of Control"

Here you can read the Background-Dossier

Contacts
Anja Arning, E-Mail: anja.arning(at)euronatur.org, Tel.: +49 (0)7732 - 92 72 13
Gabriel Paun, E-Mail: gabriel.paun@agentgreen.org, Tel.: +43 6641850717
Andrei Ciurcanu, E-Mail: andrei.ciurcanu@agentgreen.org

 

 

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