Primary forests in Europe

Dead wood is anything but dead!
Up to 240 different species of beetles can be found here.
© Matthias Schickhofer

Europe's green lungs

Primary forests don’t just grow in the Amazon or on the islands of Indonesia; they are found in Europe too. In the Romanian Carpathians in particular, large areas of virgin forest have survived – providing a global natural heritage of inestimable ecological value. Yet the last primary and natural forests in the European Union are disappearing. Greed for profit, political ignorance and large-scale corruption are threatening these forests, which have grown over hundreds and thousands of years. If they were cut down, countless rare plants and animals would lose their homes. The fight against the climate crisis would also suffer a significant setback.

We are protecting forests in Europe

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What we are doing for Europe's primary forests

  • Raising awareness in Romania: For a long time, many people in Europe were unaware that real forest wilderness still existed on our continent - or how dramatic the situation had become for these last primary and natural forests. Through our public relations work, we have successfully put this conservation drama in the media spotlight. Using investigative research, our Romanian partner organisation Agent Green uncovered the deplorable state of affairs in the country and mobilised Romania’s committed citizens to take to the streets in protest. 
  • Lobbying in Brussels: Thanks to our lobbying work, we were able to put the issue of primary forest protection in Romania on the agenda of politicians in EU bodies. We submitted three complaints to the European Commission and this led to the Commission opening infringement proceedings against the Romanian government. The Romanian authorities must now take action to stop deforestation. If they fail to do so, there is a threat of legal action in the European Court of Justice. We are maintaining the pressure so that action is finally taken in Romania.
  • Mobilising people in support of primary forests: Whether it is in the forests of the Carpathians, on the streets of Bucharest or in front of the European Parliament, together with Agent Green and other organisations, we are organising demonstrations, events and petitions as part of our campaign against logging and planned road construction in Romania’s primary and natural forests. Due to massive protests, plans to expand a small forest road into a multi-lane highway through the Domogled National Park were also thwarted.
  • Demanding transparency: For years, we have been calling on the changing Romanian governments to revise the country’s national protected area management system and to allow us to see management plans for state owned and private forest areas. After protracted legal battles, we were finally granted this at the end of 2020. Now we can use these plans to prove where illegal logging has taken place or is still scheduled to happen.

Only a few percent of the forest area in Europe are still in a pristine state. I am convinced that EU can afford to strictly preserve at least 10 percent of its forest cover including all all remaining primary and old-growth forests.

Matthias Schickhofer, Campaigner, Author and Photographer

Stopping timber transporters, organising demos, working to persuade people: there are many different aspects to protecting Europe’s primary forests

Learn more about our forest projects

Discover more

Join in and help us!

You too can join the large circle of those who are committed to Europe's virgin forests. We are grateful for every donation or active contribution! By doing so, you will support an independent and networked civil society in Europe that is working powerfully to protect our virgin forests. Please use your opportunities to help!

How you can help


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