If you were playing a game of “guess the forest,” a clue of thousands of hectares of old-growth forest home to large predators including bears and wolves, might not necessarily mean your first guess would be anywhere in Europe. A second clue of an average of 62 reported cases of illegal logging per day and an average of three hectares of woodland lost every hour would perhaps be more indicative of a tropical wood-producing nation.
But both actually refer to Romania.
Gabriel Paun, the founder and head of local NGO Agent Green, has spent years trying to protect his country’s vast expanses of forests and has been assaulted and intimidated in the process.
“We have thousands of hectares of virgin forests here like in no other country in Europe,” he told Mongabay. “They have never been touched, it is how Europe used to look after the last glacier age.”
That idyll is increasingly under threat, however. A recent report published by Greenpeace claimed that in the one year between 2013 and 2014 alone, 45,501 cases of illegal logging were reported in Romania.
Authorities found that a million cubic meters of wood were cut unlawfully in that period, costing 52 million euros ($55 million) in damages. Nearly 80 percent of the total volume of illegal timber harvested was from just three counties: Alba, Cluj and Marmamures.
“The number of cases being investigated by authorities has been on the increase in the last few years,” Crisanta Lungu, forest campaign coordinator with Greenpeace Romania, told Mongabay.
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