Legal victory for Romania's forests

For a long time, the Romanian authorities and the Romsilva State Forest Administration kept environmentally relevant information in forest management plans secret – contrary to the provisions of the Aarhus Convention and the EU Environmental Information Directive. Agent Green therefore had to seek access to relevant information in numerous legal proceedings.

<p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p>                Paradiese Forests in Romania's Carpathians</p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p>

Romania's Paradise Forests are a treasury of biodiversity. But effective protection of the forests is only possible if management plans are in place.

© Matthias Schickhofer

For a long time, the Romanian authorities and the Romsilva State Forest Administration kept environmentally relevant information in forest management plans secret  – contrary to the provisions of the Aarhus Convention and the EU Environmental Information Directive. Agent Green therefore had to seek access to relevant information in numerous legal proceedings. The court of appeal in Bucharest has now found Agent Green is right and dismissed the appeal by the Ministry of the Environment. With immediate effect, the ministry is therefore obliged to make environmentally relevant information from forest management plans available to the public on request. This means that civil society can finally see what the manegement plans for state and private forests look like, in which areas and to what extent logging has been approved. This is an important step to ensure public control of compliance with EU directives and thus the protection of ecologically valuable forests.

At the same time, the pressure from Brussels on the Romanian government is  growing. In its latest publication on infringement proceedings, the European Commission calls on Romania to fully ensure the conservation of the country’s natural habitats and the protection of wild animals and plants in accordance with the requirements of the EU Nature Directives. The EU Commission complains that the forest management plans often do not take Natura 2000 provisions into account. The nature conservationists of the NGO Agent Green have repeatedly witnessed illegal logging, in particular in designated Natura 2000 sites. Romania now has two months to remedy this situation, otherwise the EU Commission threatens to issue a reasoned opinion, which could lead to legal proceedings at the Court of Justice of the EU – and potentially a harsh sentence afterwards.

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