Illegal logging and the protection of forests

In the National Afforestation Program, adopted 7 years ago, Romania stipulated the increase of forest surfaces between 2010-2035 by 442,000 hectares. This is a mission which analysts sarcastically label as impossible.

Because, according to statistics, forest areas can be extended only by 6,379 hectares per year, given the current pace of afforestation, be it artificial or natural, on the one hand, and the pace of logging, on the other. That means Romania would need 60 years to implement the national afforestation program scheduled for only 25 years.

According to the National Institute of Statistics, the forested area has been extended, though, and this growth is mainly due to redeveloping forested pastures and to introducing degraded and non-forested lands into the forestry stock as established by the Forest Code.

However, in 2015, a Greenpeace Romania report showed that, in reality, 3 hectares of forest are lost every hour because of illegal logging. Recently, the Romanian ecologists have revealed that the main wood processor on the Romanian market, the Austrian company Holzindustrie Schweighofer, offered bonuses for the wood illegally cut from Romania’s forests, and this stringent issue has eventually reached Romania’s Parliament and Government.

The civil sanctions for illegal logging and illegal wood transport will be maintained at the level provided for in the government order issued by the former technocratic government, which actually toughened these sanctions. The MPs in the agriculture committee have agreed to also maintain the measure providing for the confiscation of the vehicles transporting the wood cut illegally.

They will however reanalyze the sanctions for the employees in the forestry field who don’t notify the authorities on the wood theft or are accessories to it. Secretary of state with the Environment Ministry, Şteţco Istrate, admits that the measures are necessary to discourage illegalities.

Read full article in Radio Romania International.

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