Romania to prosecute 166 people for illegal logging after national police operation

Romanian authorities say 166 people are facing criminal charges for illegal logging in the country’s forests.

Police investigated illegal logging activities across Romania from May 29 to June 4 in a bid to protect the country’s forests and combat widespread illegal logging.

Some 1,300 police and law enforcement officers took part in the nationwide operation.

Police say they have 93 separate cases and authorities have confiscated 555 square meters of wood worth 320,000 lei, about 66,500 euros.

Tuesday’s statement comes as the Senate prepares to vote on establishing a prosecution agency for illegal logging.

Illegal deforestation has come under focus in Romania after two forest rangers were killed last fall, one in “a Mafia style” slaying.

The deaths came amid a rise in attacks on rangers and an increase in illegal logging in the country’s forested areas.

Environment Minister Costel Alexe said last year that almost 20 million cubic meters, which is almost half of the wood cut down annually in Romania, is illegally logged.

In February, prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the European Commission  gave Romania one month to implement regulations to prevent timber companies from selling illegally chopped wood and timber products on the EU market.

Police carried out more than 900 inspections, checking the actual forests, the origin of wood at manufacturing plants and trucks transporting timber.

Some 2,450 vehicles were checked and 260 factories, workshops, storage places, markets and other places that handle timber.

Poluce were joined by border polucem the Forestry Guard, gendarmaes and Romsilva officials.


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