Romania's primary forests are disappearing - the EU Commission must intervene

++ Investigative research uncovers scandalous machinations in the forestry industry ++ EuroNatur demands strict protection for primary forests in Romania, and action from the EU Commission ++

Degraded forest area in the Carpathians

Deforestation area in the Carpathians: Ecologically valuable forests once stood here.

© Matthias Schickhofer/EuroNatur
virgin forest in the Carpathians

There are still large old-growth forest areas in Romania, but they are disappearing rapidly.

© Matthias Schickhofer

Radolfzell, Bucharest. Working over a period of several months as part of the research project “Deforestation Inc.”, journalists and reporters from around 40 international media organisations investigated the unscrupulous wheeling and dealing going on in the supposedly sustainable timber industry.

The situation is dramatic - not only in tropical rainforest areas, but in Europe too. One example is the Romanian Carpathians, where forests of inestimable value for the biodiversity of our continent, as well as for the global climate, are being destroyed on a massive scale. Internationally active foundation EuroNatur, together with its partners Agent Green and Client Earth, pressed the EU Commission to bring infringement proceedings against Romania three years ago. “It is extremely important that the issue receives international attention as a result of this investigative research work,” said Annette Spangenberg, Head of Conservation at EuroNatur. “EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius must ensure that the infringement procedure is finally brought before the European Court of Justice after almost three years of deadlock and continued deforestation in Romania's ecologically valuable forests. All the facts have been on the table for years, what is the Commission waiting for?”

The issue is also an explosive one given the decision-making process currently underway on the reform of the EU's Renewable Energy Directive (RED). This also addresses the question of continued subsidies and other incentives for generating electricity from wood biomass. “The EU must not agree to further incentives for the industrial combustion of forest biomass. Otherwise, the door to the destruction of many of our last primary and natural forests will be thrown wide open, and a wash of green paint will be applied for good measure,” said Annette Spangenberg. “With the revision of RED currently at the trilogue stage, the EU has the opportunity to finally take action to combat this.”

Background information:

  • “Deforestation Inc.”: The #deforestationinc research project was organised and led by the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The research, which took place over a period of nine months, involved 140 journalists from all over the world. International media involved in the research include Der Spiegel (Germany), CBC (Canada) and Le Monde (France). The project focuses on the increasing rate of worldwide deforestation, and examines, among other things, the dubious trade in sustainability certificates, the illegal trade in high-grade wood and the Romanian timber mafia. All research results are published internationally.
  • Romania still has more than 500,000 hectares of potential primary and natural forests - more than any other EU Member State (outside Scandinavia). About 300,000 hectares of these valuable forests are located in Natura 2000 areas. In these areas, the degradation of protected habitats and species is prohibited by EU law. Nevertheless, deforestation is continuing in Romania's primary and natural forests, which are protected under EU law. Many protected species, such as bears, wolves, black storks, owls, woodpeckers, bats and beetles are dependent on these forests. The “SaveParadiseForests” campaign works to protect the primary and natural forests of the Carpathians, particularly in Romania. It is jointly run by NGOs EuroNatur (Germany) and Agent Green (Romania).

Enquiries: Christian Stielow, christian.stielow(at), Tel.: +49 (0)7732 - 92 72 15


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