“It’s the last forest which has a high conservation value and [has] the capacity to sustain life of hundreds of species of flora and fauna,” said Gabriel Paun, founder of Agent Green, an environmental protection non-profit in Romania. He is referring to the forests of Romania, home to the Europe’s last remaining old growth forest and some of the largest populations of brown bear, lynx, and wolves.
These forests, located in many of Romania’s national parks, are being decimated because of illegal logging. Old growth forests are being logged at a rate in which they cannot successfully regenerate and the results are devastating: hectares of clear-cut hillsides throughout Romania’s national parks and the loss of one of Europe’s last forests.
A multi-year investigation by EIA found one of the major contributors to this destruction is Austrian-based wood manufacturer Holzindustrie Schweighofer, which broke its promise to not accept wood from national parks in Romania. In October 2013 Holzindustrie Schweighofer’s declared company policy on its website stated, “Holzindustrie Schweighofer does not accept logs and biomass deliveries coming from natural parks and protected areas.” However, this policy was blatantly violated in November 2014 when Paun followed a delivery truck out of Retezat National Park directly to the gate of Schweighofer’s largest sawmill; all of which he caught on camera. Not only did the gatekeepers allow the delivery to enter without issue, but they harassed Paun as he was filming from public ground and even attacked him with pepper spray. Holzindustrie Schweighofer continues to promise that it will not accept wood from national parks
In order to protect the remaining forests of Romania, Paun and Agent Green are voicing an urgent request: that Holzindustrie Schweighofer keeps its promises which it has broken in the past. “We demand Schweighofer and all the processing facilities in Romania to strictly refuse wood coming from national parks,” said Paun.
For more information on this issue, please read EIA’s report Stealing the Last Forest.