Romania: protest against widespread illegal logging

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In downtown Bucharest, an estimated 4,000 people marched toward the water and forest ministry, according to local TV stations, banging drums and chanting “Our forest is not your commodity,” and “Thieves.”

The protests, organized by Greenpeace Romania and other environmental groups, demanded thorough criminal investigations into the deaths and attacks against forest workers, as well as immediate upgrades to the country’s automated logging tracking system and tighter legislation.

Romania: protest against widespread illegal logging 1
Greenpeace Romania

The protests, organized by Greenpeace Romania and other environmental groups, demanded thorough criminal investigations into the deaths and attacks against forest workers, as well as immediate upgrades to the country’s automated logging tracking system and tighter legislation.

The Silva trade union federation says six foresters have been killed in recent years while another 650 forest workers were beaten, attacked with axes or knives or even shot at after catching illegal loggers in the act.

Romania: protest against widespread illegal logging 2
People march against widespread illegal logging , in Bucharest November 03, 2019

They include Raducu Gorcioaia, who was found dead in his car with head wounds on Sept. 12 near a forest in Iasi county in eastern Romania, and Liviu Pavel Pop, who was shot dead on Oct. 16 in the northwestern Maramures county. Police are still investigating both deaths.

Romania, which is home to some of Europe’s last remaining virgin forests and diverse wildlife, is losing an estimated three to nine hectares of forest per hour due to illegal logging, Greenpeace studies have shown. Romania’s forests are among the oldest in Europe, and are home to valuable ecosystems. Timber from the forest is stolen to make furniture, paper or building materials.

Spruce forests in the north and east of Romania, and beech forests in the south, have been the hardest hit by logging.

Romania: protest against widespread illegal logging 3
Deforestation in Romania

Three non-governmental organisations – Agent Green, ClientEarth and EuroNatur – have filed a complaint to the European Commission against the Romanian government.

The organisations claim Romania’s logging practices are not in line with EU laws on nature protection, and amount to the “deliberate destruction of natural woodlands making up two-thirds of unspoilt forests within the European Union”.

Smaller marches took place in other Romanian cities on Sunday, with protesters carrying signs which said “Climate emergency” and “Save the forest.”

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