Black day for forests. The impact of the new Forestry Code

The government announced today that it has adopted the draft law for the new Forestry Code. This will, however, generate more serious problems for the Romanian forestry than the superficial solutions it invokes, as WWF-Romania has repeatedly warned during the past few months.

We believe that the provisions of the new project flagrantly contradict the strategic action directions set by the National Strategy for Forests (SNP30), which means that the red line of the necessary reforms for the forestry sector in Romania is practically diverted. All the arguments and technical proposals that we supported were basically ignored. The same thing happened with most of the solutions proposed by the Economic and Social Council (CES), which, by submitting its opinion, highlighted the key elements that should have been introduced into the new draft law.

“For over three years, the Government has built, together with the interested parties invited to get involved, a vision for forests, which it has proudly assumed as a milestone of the PNRR. But, after not even a year, the same Government basically throws it away. A "trick" because of which Romania wastes a historic chance to lay the foundations for clear and healthy policies for forests. We say this because, once in the Parliament, it is very difficult for disparate amendments to succeed in transposing the strategic directions assumed by Romania and in giving the necessary coherence and predictability to a law of such importance.”

Here are some of the most serious effects of the new draft law:

  • It legalizes an uncontrolled increase in timber harvesting. The continuity principle of sustainable timber harvests is practically undermined. It will be possible to cut more and cheaper, without taking into account the cumulative impact that the harvesting will generate at the forest landscape level, with major risks related to forest conservation and to the development of a sustainable bioeconomy.
  • It will be possible to cut as much as the wood market can “swallow”. The dream of the primary processing industry and the Government’s innovative solution to solve the problem of illegal harvesting.
  • It doesn’t start a clear reform of the system to fight illegal logging. We are left with the same inefficient system based on marking trees, capitalizing on the standing wood and identifying unmarked stumps. It is a system that does not produce clear evidence in court, which is not preventive but, on the contrary, generates systemic conflicts of interest and puts on hold any effort for administrative efficiency.
  • It does not create a clear framework to promote superior timber yield and to apply the cascading use of timber principle. There are no clear requirements to promote timber use chains with the highest economic value added, so that wood as a raw material can be used in the most valuable way, through superior processing into long-life products.
  • Significant deficiencies in integrating biodiversity conservation into forest management. Conservation concepts are not defined correctly and conservation methods are incomplete and inconsistent.
  • It gives green light to appropriations from the public forestry fund, which had also been state property even before 1945. New waves of controversial retrocessions and an artificial administrative fragmentation of the national forestry fund will follow.

All these, together with the logging liberalization, will generate chaos in the forests again.

Read WWF's arguments and proposals regarding the New Forestry Code project

The Romanian Parliament is now the last chance if we don’t want Romania’s forests to have the same fate as in the early 2000s.

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