Romania’s environment minister says the government is considering banning the sale of wood to non-European Union members to protect the country’s virgin forests from illegal deforestation.
The minister, Costel Alexe, said he had spoken to forestry officials about banning log exports outside the EU, but couldn’t prevent exports within the 28-member bloc due to free trade rules.
He said Romania was losing hundreds of millions of euros every year due to illegal logging, and said stopping wood exports outside the EU area was important because “significant” quantities of wood” are leaving the EU space,” in an interview with Digi24.
The new minority Liberal government is trying to stop illegal logging which counts for about half of all logging in Romania, officials say.
President Klaus Iohannis also called for illegal logging to be curtailed on Thursday and asked the environment minister to come up with solutions.
“The data is scary. A quantity equal to the wood cut legally is cut illegally, and this must stop,” the president said.
Statistics were concealed by the former Social Democrat-led government, Alexe said.
Last month, Alexe reported that about 20 million cubic meters of logs were cut down illegally every year out of a total of 38.6 million cubic meters.
Illegal logging been in the spotlight in the past month, 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.”