The European Union must stop the destruction of precious Natura 2000 forests!
The destruction of precious Natura 2000 forests in the Romanian Carpathians continues unabated - despite an ongoing infringement procedure by the European Commission against the Romanian government. The EuroNatur Foundation, and the environmental organisations ROBIN WOOD, Agent Green and Fern are therefore calling on the EU Commission to promptly move forward with the proceedings that began in 2020 and to take the case to the European Court of Justice. To lend their weight, representatives from an alliance of seven forest conservation organisations today went to the European Commission in Brussels to hand over their demands, together with a new short film about the issues. The film, made by ROBIN WOOD on behalf of the NGO alliance, shows the EU's primary and old-growth forests being buried as a symbol of their destruction, and criticises the insufficient enforcement of Natura 2000 legislation.
Romania is home to the largest contiguous beech forests in Europe - a pristine natural world heritage site. The EU has placed the forests under protection as Natura 2000 sites. But in practice, their protection is not enforced. This is proven by a recent report by EuroNatur Foundation together with Agent Green from Romania and legal experts from ClientEarth.
"If the Commission fails to save Europe's largest and most pristine primary and old-growth forest areas with its Natura 2000 protection laws, the whole concept of Nature 2000 is in danger of failing. The destruction of Europe's precious forests is in full progress despite the worsening climate and extinction crises. We need intact old-growth forests more than ever before." says Jana Ballenthien, ROBIN WOOD's forest campaigner.
Romania has not yet taken effective steps to stop the destruction of protected old-growth forests in Natura 2000 areas. Representatives of environmental organisations, including those from some of the EU's most forested Member States, now fear that the European Union will settle for insufficient legislative changes by the Romanian government and drag out the process.
"The Romanian authorities are making a fool out of the European Commission. We urge the EU to finally enforce the current laws. Anything else would be a fatal signal towards other Member States," says Annette Spangenberg, Head of Nature Conservation at EuroNatur.
"The Estonian government recently relented in a similar infringement procedure and suspended logging in Natura 2000 forest habitats. As our minister of environment publicly admitted, this decision was taken in order to avoid being taken to the European Court of Justice and getting a fine. Our example shows that pressure from local NGOs was not enough to stand against intensive forestry lobby. The EU Commission had to take action. The same is urgently needed in Romania!" says Liina Steinberg of Save Estonia's Forests.
ROBIN WOOD: Jana Ballenthien, Waldreferentin, Tel. +49 (0)40 / 380 892 11, wald [at] robinwood.de; Ute Bertrand, Pressesprecherin, Tel. +49 (0)171 835 95 15, presse [at] robinwood.de
Euronatur: Anja Arning, Leiterin Kommunikation, Tel. +49 (0)7732 927213, anja.arning [at] euronatur.org
Fern: Kelsey Perlman, Forest and climate campaigner, Tel. +32 484 22 50 68, kelsey [at] fern.org
German version of this press release
The short film "An Artistic Act to Act"
Report “Investigation into habitat degradation in Făgăraș, Domogled, Maramureș and Frumoasa Natura 2000 sites“ by EuroNatur, Agent Green and ClientEarth
ROBIN WOOD blog post "Gewalt in den Karpaten Vertragsverletzungs-Verfahren steckt fest"
Information on the forest conservation organizations involved:
Agent Green (Romania)
Agent Green is a non-governmental organization for environmental protection, established in 2009. In 2016 it received the EuroNatur International Award. The organisation's focus is to investigate environmental crimes, strategically expose them and promote solutions to conserve biodiversity and ensure the well-being of future generations. The NGO is one of the complainants in the infringement procedure.
Save Estonia's Forests (Estonia)
Save Estonia’s Forests is a grass roots movement that started with the idea of organising a demonstration in support of Estonian forests on 16 August 2020 ( postponed because of Corona). The main common denominator that joins the members is concern over Estonian forests and readiness to actively contribute towards changing the current situation.
The EuroNatur Foundation, together with Agent Green, launched the SaveParadiseForests campaign to protect Romania's primeval and natural forests. EuroNatur has been working for transboundary nature conservation in Europe for 35 years. EuroNatur is one of the complainants in the infringement procedure.
Fern is an NGO created in 1995 to make the EU work for forests and people. Our work centres on forests and forest peoples’ rights and the issues that affect them such as EU consumption, trade, development aid and climate change. All of our work is done in close collaboration with social and environmental organisations and movements across the world.
"Fern supports the aims of the film, the European Green Deal will only work if we enforce existing policies such as the Habitat and Birds Directives. The EU has promised to map and protect old-growth forests: current destruction needs to stop or we won’t have any left to protect.”
Protect the Forest (Sweden)
The NGO Protect the Forest promotes discussion about forest nature conservation in Sweden and the world. It campaigns for the preservation of Sweden's primeval forests and other forests with high nature conservation value.
ROBIN WOOD (Germany)
The environmental organization ROBIN WOOD has been campaigning for the protection of forests worldwide for about 40 years and currently has a campaign for the protection of the Romanian primary and olg-growth forests:
Workshop for all Beings (Poland)
Workshop for All Beings - is a Polish ecological NGO. It was established and gained a legal status in 1990. In their activity they follow the philosophy of Deep Ecology. Their goal is preservation of wild nature and its most valuable areas as well as conservation of its natural biological processes.