In Nine o’clock, an interesting article from Mihai Iordanescu about the current situation of Romanian forests:
(…) For many years, the EU has been warning Romania that our green areas dwindle, and in towns they are significantly under the 26 square meters per capita provided by European rules. Romanian officials found excuses even for this situation. Until recently, when they found the solution: they covered the parks, gardens and old patches of green with layers of artificial grass. On the other hand, the real green areas of towns and cities are purposely left to decay, so they disappear “naturally” and turn into barren lands that are suitable for the construction of buildings that will further pollute the urban environment. With the wealthy construction entrepreneurs exerting their influence upon decision makers, it is no wonder that only 1 pc of the many criminal files against those that destroyed green areas found a solution in court.
As trouble never comes alone, even the Romanian parliamentarians contribute – knowingly or not – to the disaster of forests. How? By criminalising only those illegal tree cuts that exceed 5 cubic meters of wood. Hence, those who steal only 1 cubic meter of wood only risk small fines, which they can pay when they please. What is the result of this legal oversight? Long columns of carts and other vehicles travel along forest roads each day, carrying 1-2 meters of stolen wood, only risking fines that are so small, when compared to the value of the wood, that they can be considered real theft incentives. The destruction of the Romanian forest thus became a golden opportunity that lures in even foreign “investors.”
The start of this environment disaster coincides, in Romania, with the so-called retrocession of forest properties, justified by the rule of law principles. But these very principles would have imposed that the more than 2 million hectares returned to their former owners stay under the strict regime of forest laws. They should have been cultivated and used with a double purpose: economically, to the benefit of their new owners, and ecologically, in favour of the national territory. Deprived of this rational statute, the more than 2 million hectares were destroyed by theft. If exploited and exported rationally, at the price of processed -rather than raw – wood, the more 2 million hectares of forest could have generated an income exceeding EUR 10 bln. But with things being what they were, we must pay EUR 5 bln only to replant the robbed forest areas, plus the cost of operations required before saplings reach maturity: 60 years for acacia, poplar and willow; 120 years for fir, spruce and pine; over 150 years for oak forests.
Read the entire article in Nine o’clock.