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#SaveParadiseForests Campaign launched by EuroNatur

About a year ago, together with other activists, ambassadors, delegates and other participants of the CBD COP-14, the GYBN youth delegation protested against the violence and murders of environmental activists. At that time, we marched, in honor of them, with photos and names of the murdered people in our hand through the COP venue. Today, we would also carry the pictures of two people from Romania.

Recently, the news of two murders on forest rangers in Romania working against illegal logging went through the media. Within only one month there were two brutal murders (of Raducu Gorcioaia and Liviu Pop). Furthermore, within the last five years, five other murders and more than 650 attacks on rangers and foresters were registered by the Romanian Forestry Union. These figures illustrate the prevalence of crime and violence in the Romanian forest sector. Most probably, a mafia-like and corrupt system extends from the forest workers up to the highest political level. All, because a lot of money can be earned with wood and thus biodiversity protection is ignored. The forests in the Carpathians of Romania are severely threatened by deforestation and are vanishing at a rapid speed.

A few years ago, EuroNatur Foundation launched the #SaveParadiseForests campaign together with the Romanian organisation Agent Green. With this campaign, it is committed to the preservation of the Romanian forests. In late summer 2019, EuroNatur published a study that identified Romania's primary and old-growth forests. The results were amazing: There are currently about 525,000 hectares of primary and old-growth forests in Romania. This is a great natural treasure and should be protected urgently, also as our natural heritage. These forests host a high biodiversity and are home to the largest populations of brown bears, wolves and lynxes in the European Union.

However, the results of the study also highlighted the great danger these forests face. Already in 2005, an inventory of all virgin forests in Romania was published. Almost half of these virgin forests have already been logged or massively degraded by 2019. And this even though Romania actually wants to protect all virgin forests in the so-called "National Catalogue of Virgin Forests". But illegal deforestation is very common in Romania, even in protected areas. Numerous times, EuroNatur and Agent Green have been able to collect strong evidence of logging in National Parks and Natura 2000 areas.

A few months ago, together with ClientEarth, they submitted a first complaint to the European Commission. A second one will follow soon. This will focus on the disregard of the Habitats Directive and the Birds Directive in the Natura 2000 sites (especially the forests) in Romania. The hope is that, as in the Bialowieza case in Poland in 2018, the deforestation of these valuable forests can be stopped. EuroNatur and Agent Green agree, that it needs an effective system of protection mechanisms, compensation payments for private forest owners and economic alternatives to deforestation. Another very important element is the elimination of illegal logging in Romania. Only this will decrease the crime rate in Romania's forests and activists and rangers will be able to walk safely and out of threat through these paradise forests again.

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