Illegal Loggers Are Decimating Romania’s Virgin Forests, Say Green Groups


Even protected areas aren’t safe as some of Europe’s largest primeval woodlands come under threat

Even after decades of rampant deforestation, Romania is still home to more than half of Europe’s primeval woodlands, some 6.5 million hectares of old-growth temperate climate forests. As a result, some of the Old Continent’s largest populations of brown bears, wolves, lynxes, and wildcats live in the country. Still, the Eastern European country is losing 62,000 hectares of this forest annually, or roughly 3 hectares per hour, much of it due illegal logging. Either as raw logs or as processed timber, nearly all of this wood somehow finds its way out of the country, to places like Northern Africa and Western Europe.

Romania has long faced illegal logging issues. Back in the 1800s, the country had 8.5 million hectares of woodland — 36 percent of its territory was forested. Between 1990 and 2011, however, Romania lost an estimated 366,000 hectares — some 2.8 billion cubic feet of timber — as a result of illegal logging. In recent years, illegal logging has ramped up, and today an estimated 26 percent of the country is forested.

Environmentalists blame the situation in large part on the corrupt sale of government-owned wooded areas to private citizens, politicians, and various corporate entities. Advocates say the extent of destruction of primeval forests in Romania far exceeds that in Poland, which has received significantly more international attention. Nowhere is safe from illegal logging, including the country’s protected forests and national parks. Only last year, in 2017, 124 acres of woodland were lost from the Semenic National Park, which lies in the southwestern part of Romania, bordering Serbia. The region has the largest virgin beech forests in Europe, with over 4,200 hectares, and was protected as a UNESCO world heritage site in, August 2017. Logging in the park is illegal.

Romania’s Ministry of Environment has pledged to investigate the illegal logging in Semenic National Park. However, many citizens and environmentalists aren’t convinced that any real headway will be made.  Earth Island Journal


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The Carpathians – Europe’s Only True Wilderness | TR-TV

Protecting Romania’s primeval forests | The Ecologist

Europe’s last wilderness threatened | ScienceDirect