Romania takes steps to protect 250,000 ha of virgin forests

Three weeks after the launch of WWF’s campaign to save Romania’s virgin forests, a ministerial commitment has been secured to put Romania’s most important and valuable forests under protection. On a visit to Sinca forest near Brasov today, the Minister of Environment and Forests Mr. Laszlo Borbely could see how the lack of legislation meant that trees in virgin forest were cut down legally. Earlier the minister had committed to visiting virgin forest areas with WWF to analyze the situation on the ground.

By the end of the year we hope to finalize the legislative act which will put all our virgin forests under protection”, said Laszlo Borbely. “Virgin forests are pure treasure, especially for those who recognize their important role”.

The minister later clarified that Romania will have around 100 million Euro from EU funds to compensate private forest owners.

Within the coming weeks a Memorandum of understanding between WWF and the Ministry of Environment and Forests will be signed which will stipulate what actions will be taken to ensure legal protection of Romania’s most important forests.

According to the minister, a new evaluation of virgin forests in Romania will be carried out by the middle of 2012, replacing the now outdated 2003 study.

Over 65,000 signatures

In the space of only three weeks, together with our partners, our campaign managed to raise over 65,000 signatures and a huge public interest in the state of our virgin forests”, said Magor Csibi, Country Manager of the WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme in Romania. “Virgin forests have become a hot topic in Romania. Today we see the light at the end of the tunnel for the first time. A Memorandum of understanding with the authorities would guarantee that the problem will be solved. Today we received a first commitment, and we hope that we will be able to finalize the agreement soon”.

250,000 hectares of virgin forests in Romania are awaiting protection according to the “Save the virgin forests!” campaign launched by WWF on 24 October. The campaign is seeking protection for over 80% of Romania’s virgin forests, which are currently left unprotected.

Virgin or old growth forests are untouched by humans, the last places where nature survives in its pure state. They are wonderful complex systems where seedlings, young, mature and old trees are interspersed by very large, old live, imposing trees. Dead trees and decaying logs are just as important as the living trees, building up together an environment that is home for many different flora and fauna. Romania’s virgin forests are home to up to 13,000 species.

More vulnerable than ever

Virgin forests have survived because of their inaccessibility and the low economic value of the wood coming from the old trees. However, today virgin forests are more vulnerable than ever because of socio-economic pressures in Romania. These include the ever increasing demand for wood and the challenges of managing small patches of forests in a business way.

Over the past few decades, virgin forests have disappeared in the developed countries. Romania’s virgin forests represent up to 65% of the virgin forests still remaining in Europe, outside of Russia. They are an important part of Europe’s natural patrimony and were lost mostly due to bad management. Their scientific, educational, and ecological value is undisputed.

An article WWF Romania.


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