After failing to allocate European funds for forests within the National Strategic Plan (PNS), we have to protect our forests by using national money. In this context, the Government Decision currently in public debate, which gives compensations to forest owners who cannot harvest wood because of protection restrictions established by the forest management, is necessary. Besides the positive aspects it includes, such as establishing how the beneficiaries are selected, the amount of the compensation payment and how the whole process is controlled, there are some elements that the GD draft does not take into account and which should be included.
- According to the draft, the compensation is granted only to forest owners who own work plans. But the Forestry Code states that owners who have less than 10 ha of forest (at country level there are about 420,000 ha) do not need the work plans to harvest wood. In other words, if Romania decides to protect any of these forests, the owners will neither be allowed to extract wood, nor will they receive compensation because they have no work plans. We think that, based on an official paper issued by the administrators of the protected areas, their situation should be included in the GD.
- We are happy when we manage to protect virgin forests and to include them in the National Catalogue. But we do not take into account that, although they are protected, their status will be reflected into the work plans after the latter are revised, once every 10 years. Which means that their owners do not receive compensating payments because they are not allowed to do any forestry works in their forests until the work plan is rewritten. The law should also take this situation into account.
- On the other hand, the authorities make compensating payments to owners who should not benefit from them. It is the case of those who own forests where the restrictions are partial and sometimes even loose. For special conservation works, only owners who do not harvest, through forestry interventions, more than 10% of the standing wood in an entire decade should receive compensations.
- There are regenerated forests in the protection areas, on the former meadows, where the owners can neither carry out their grazing activity, because of the strict protection, nor cut them. These are the Nobody’s Forests, left outside the forestry fund and managed by two ministries, the environment and the agriculture. Their owners should either be able to harvest their timber or receive compensations.
WWF has requested from the beginning that the National Strategic Plan consider allocating payments for the loss of income faced by forest owners. Unfortunately, our requests were not considered. This process is now carried out with national money, through a Government Decision that can be significantly improved.