A heart for Europe’s last paradise forests

Gabriel Paun

Gabriel Paun fights for the protection of Romania’s primeval forests.

© Matthias Schickhofer

Romanian forest conservationist wins EuroNatur Award 2016

Press release from 27 September 2016


Radolfzell.   There’s no end to clear-cutting in Romania’s primeval forests. They are being cut down relentlessly also in this very minute. Among those fighting with every possible personal effort to protect the Carpathian old-growth forests for many years, Gabriel Paun is an outstanding example. Recognizing his exceptional commitment, the Romanian biologist and campaigner will receive the EuroNatur Award 2016 in about two weeks, on October 12th, joining personalities like Prince Charles and US best-selling author Jonathan Franzen. All of them received the EuroNatur Award for their exemplary work to protect the European natural heritage.

“Romania’s primeval forests are a unique treasure of Europe’s natural heritage, but they are severely endangered. Their ongoing destruction is a scandal”, says Christel Schroeder, president of internationally active nature conservation foundation EuroNatur. Nonetheless, losing the Romanian paradise forests is not more than a side issue internationally and is a subject of debate only in Romania (if at all). “By awarding this year’s EuroNatur Award to Gabriel Paun, we send a clear signal to the Romanian government to immediately halt the deforestation of the Carpathian old-growth forests. Moreover, it is high time that the European Commission finally demands that the Natura 2000 areas are protected effectively”, stresses Christel Schroeder. Gabriel Paun, founder of Romanian nature conservation NGO Agent Green, has been uncovering alarming cases of forest destruction and exposing them to the public for years. Week after week, thousands of trees are being cut down illegally. The Romanian authorities are not strictly enforcing the primeval forests’ legal conservation status. Not even if they are situated in a national park or an area protected by EU laws, centuries-old giant trees are safe from the chainsaws.

Romania currently still harbours about 60% of the continent’s remaining old-growth forests (excl. Russia). But over the past ten years, vast areas of these more than 6000-year-old forest ecosystems have been destroyed.

Background information:

EuroNatur Award: The EuroNatur Award is non-monetary. It shall honour outstanding commitments in the field of nature conservation. Laureates of previous years include Jonathan Franzen, Prince Charles, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, Dr. Ernst Paul Dörfler, Prof. Dr. Klaus Töpfer, and Hnutí Duha (Friends of the Earth Czech Republic). Receiving the EuroNatur Award in 2014 provided the Czech nature conservation organisation Hnutí Duha with the necessary international backing to significantly progress wilderness protection in Šumava National Park. The EuroNatur Award 2016 will be given on 12 October 2016 at 5 p.m. to Gabriel Paun on Mainau Island (Lake Constance).

Gabriel Paun is a Romanian biologist campaigning for nature conservation and animal protection. Working for Greenpeace, he was instrumental in achieving a ban of genetically modified soy in Romania. He’s also active for Four Paws and Animals International. For many years he has been campaigning for forest protection. Among his achievements is a halt to illegal construction works on route 66a through Domogled and Retezat National Parks in Romania which harbour some of the last primeval beech forests of Europe. In 2009 Gabriel Paun founded the Romanian nature conservation NGO Agent Green.

For further information:

EuroNatur, Konstanzer Str. 22, 78315 Radolfzell, Tel.: +49 7732 - 92 72 10, Fax: +49 7732 - 92 72 22, katharina.grund@euronatur.org, www.euronatur.org, Press contact: Katharina Grund, Contact person: Gabriel Schwaderer

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