Old-growth forests destroyed rapidly in Romania

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Still untouched primeval beech forest in the Făgăraş Mountains.

© © Matthias Schickhofer
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Up to 6000-year-old forests are now being cut down ruthlessly in the Făgăraş Mountains.

© Matthias Schickhofer

Recent cases in the Strâmbei Valley and in the Şinca Forest (Făgăraş Mountains)

Violation of both Romanian and EU laws


Press release, 17 May 2016

Radolfzell. Although all primeval forests are strictly protected by law in Romania since 2008, they are still being destroyed. The most recent case discovered in the Făgăraş Mountains is particularly grave, as logging takes place in regions that are known to the authorities as primeval forests since 2005: in the Şinca Forest and in adjacent Strâmbei Valley.

Part of the Şinca virgin forest has been nominated a World Natural Heritage Site in February 2016 as part of Europe-wide nominations of primeval beech forests to the UNESCO. Current logging activities in the Şinca virgin forest are not only violating Romanian law, but also cast a bad light on the forest’s – otherwise highly commendable – nomination as a natural heritage of mankind. Further, World Natural Heritage Sites are subject to strict requirements, including regarding impacts on the surrounding areas and buffer zones.

The international nature conservation foundation EuroNatur considers the logging activities to also seriously violate existing EU conservation legislation. Both areas are part of the Natura 2000 site Făgăraş, which aims at preserving natural forest ecosystems. EuroNatur is calling on the Romanian government to immediately meet national and EU legal provisions by ensuring that all primeval forests in Romania be save from destruction. In the Făgăraş Mountains alone, several thousand hectares of unique virgin forests are at stake.

“The ongoing destruction of old-growth forests in Romania is subject to debates for more than a decade. Now the interim government led by prime minister Dacian Cioloş has to take immediate and resolute action to stop this disaster”, demands Gabriel Schwaderer, CEO of EuroNatur. “We urgently need a moratorium on any logging activities in all areas that potentially contain primeval forests. Otherwise it is to be feared that Romania’s unique natural heritage will be irrecoverably destroyed within the next few years.” There are a lot of inconsistencies relating to the protection of primeval forests in Romania. “It is a mystery to us, why only parts of the primeval forests in the Şinca-Strâmbei area were nominated as a World Heritage Site. It would have been consistent to safeguard the whole old-growth forest complex as a world heritage of humanity”, says Gabriel Schwaderer.

These activities that severely damage the European natural heritage have been revealed by photographer and EuroNatur partner Matthias Schickhofer. Over the Pentecost weekend he travelled these areas to photographically document some of the most impressive primeval forests of Europe. Matthias Schickhofer communicated the following coordinates of logging activities:

  • logging bordering the projected UNESCO World Heritage Site: 45.659921, 25.168471
  • this is the Şinca primeval forest that has been nominated to UNESCO: 45.665514, 25.166808
  • logging in adjacent Strâmbei Valley: 45.666234, 25.125813
  • old-growth forest in the western part of Strâmbei Valley: 45.660670, 25.126382

For further information: EuroNatur, Konstanzer Str. 22, 78315 Radolfzell, Tel.: +49/7732 - 92 72 10, Fax: +49/7732 - 92 72 22, E-Mail: katharina.grund@euronatur.org, Internet: www.euronatur.org, contact person: Gabriel Schwaderer, press contact: Katharina Grund

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