WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) revealed the role of Austrian wood processor Holzindustrie Schweighofer as the largest driver of illegal logging in Romania in its October 2015 report, Stealing the Last Forest. Yesterday, Holzindustrie Schweighofer released a statement in an attempt to “refute” EIA’s evidence. In this statement, the company dismisses both the seriousness of the illegal logging problem in Romania and its own outsized role in facilitating the trade of illegal wood.
“It is unfortunate that Schweighofer continues to attack the truth, rather than the problem of illegal logging,” said EIA’s Executive Director Alexander von Bismarck. “It is perhaps not surprising, as they have already taken a small Romanian NGO to Austrian court, have denied the publicly reported findings by the Romanian government that Schweighofer has received large amounts of illegal wood, and have even directly threatened the Romanian government with international legal action to prevent forest reform. EIA unequivocally stands by each and every statement made in our report.”
Schweighofer’s statement focuses on minimizing the problem of illegal logging in Romania. In contrast, President Iohannis of Romania has now formally declared illegal logging a threat to the nation’s security. Romania’s forests are among Europe’s richest in biodiversity, and the country contains two-thirds of the continent’s last remaining virgin forests. Schweighofer processed 39 percent of all the softwoods cut in Romania in 2013. In 2015 the company significantly increased its imports from neighboring Ukraine, in an apparent expansion of its business model of shifting to ever more risky timber sources. Schweighofer buys logs from over 1,000 individual suppliers in Romania, a fact the company confirms in its statement published yesterday. The company goes on to suggest that it only audits around 25 suppliers each year. Meanwhile, the Romanian government, media, and NGO reports continue to show concrete examples of Schweighofer receiving and processing illegal timber.
Maggie Dewane, Press Officer, (202) 483-6621, [email protected]