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Romania: Tearing virgin forests down

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And this when what is at stake in Romania is a unique natural paradise, home to wolves, bears and lynxes, as well as to a host of plants that have long since died out elsewhere. And while climate activists are trying to reduce CO2 emissions through flight-shaming and demands for driving bans in cities, a single 150-year-old beech tree absorbs nine tonnes of CO2 – enough to offset a journey of 56,000 kilometres by car. Yet these and even older trees are being indiscriminately felled. For these trees are also a business – a business that engenders greed that in turn leads to violence, threats and in one instance even attempted murder.

With the aid of satellite images, Global Forest Watch has calculated that 317,000 hectares of Romanian forest were lost to logging between 2001 and 2017. That’s the equivalent of 444,000 football pitches. Half of these trees were in national parks or conservation areas and were hundreds of years old. “While the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest has been horrifying people for years, hardly anyone realises that Europe contains remnants of virgin forests that are just as important. The fact that the majority of these are on our doorstep, in the Carpathians, and are under threat remains an untold story,” says David Gehl from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a US NGO investigating the predatory exploitation of nature throughout the world. The EIA reports accuse Schweighofer of having been the “biggest receiver of illegal timber” and having “lied about the source of its products for more than ten years”.

Timber mafia and deforestation in Romania

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What happens after the deforestation?

In 2017 Romania ranked first in the European Union (EU) for the area cultivated with sunflower and corn, according to a press release of the National Statistics Institute (INS) issued on Friday.

The country ranked first both for the cultivated area and the production of sunflower seeds. The surface used for this crop rose by 4,000 hectares last year, to over 1.01 million whereas the production increased by 168,000 tons to 1.95 million tons.

Train window view between Busau and Braila (103 km)