Environmentalists were right. Minister ‘SHOCKED.’ 20 million cubic meters of wood illegally logged in Romania

Environment Minister Costel Alexe says half of the wood cut down annually in Romania_ almost 20 million cubic meters _ is illegally logged, in line with claims made by environmentalists.

Alexe, who is a member of the new Liberal minority government that took office this month, said ministry reports he’d seen showed that 38.6 million cubic meters were felled yearly.

That much was known. But what wasn’t clear was how much of that was illegal logging activity.

The minister said he had requested the official figures as he’d only seen media and other reports. “I discovered shocking figures, so shocking that at first sight it was hard for me to believe them,’

He asked ministry officials how the report had been carried out and what techniques were used before concluding: „I wholly accepted the report. The data is real,” Alexe said, according to a press release.

”The difference of 18.5 million cubic meters from 38.6 million cubic meters is unauthorized logging,” he said.

Illegal logging been in the spotlight in recent weeks, after two forest rangers were killed on the job.

On Nov. 3, some 4,000 people staged marches in Romania to protest against illegal logging and demand better protection for forest rangers.

Romania is home to the biggest share of remaining virgin forests in Europe which are vanishing rapidly due to logging  

Last year, environment group Greenpeace Romania reported a spike in cases of illegal logging, with a total of 12,487 cases of illegal logging identified nationwide in 2017, an average of 34 cases per day, a third more than the previous year.”

The biggest problem is with forests on private land, followed by forests that are administered by Romsilva, the forestry management company.  

Environmentalists have been pushing for Romania to implement SUMAL, a system that monitors wood. Alexe said he was scheduled to have a meeting with the Special Telecommunication Service, the institute tasked with handling secure communication, to see how the system could be put into practice earlier than its scheduled date of July 2020.

“We’ve doubled the human resources and logistics and I hope to have it operational by the end of the year.”

“With SUMAL in place, the forest inspectorate will have a level of accessibility that is so high that we can stop this curse.”

In October, environmental activists rejected statistics from the head of Romsilva that just 50,000 cubic meters of woof were illegally logged every year.

Greenpeace coordinator for forests and biodiversity Ciprian Galusca claimed the real figure was between 8.8 million and 20 million cubic meters.


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