6.1 C
March 28, 2023

Forest disaster growing worse

The joy of spring’s arrival is late coming, though, this isn’t due to the whims for which this season is so well-known, but, plain and simple, to the reckless behaviour of some of our nationals, who, as soon as snow melted, caused uncontrolled fires with the alleged purpose of cleaning up dried vegetation. For days on end, hundreds and hundreds of hectares of forest are burning bright or smouldering, leaving a trail of thick smog quite dangerous for road and rail traffic. This explains the increasingly often traffic accidents mainly in springtime as a result of this acts of arson whose perpetrators are always unknown, but whose criminal example is quickly followed by forest arsonists increasingly active lately. Along the Olt Valley, Ramnicu-Valcea County, over 50 hectares of conifers <fir tree, common spruce and pine> burned during a single night, to the relish of arsonists aware that fire fighters could not intervene quick and efficiently due to the rough terrain.The blazing stubble spread into the forests near Targovise, leaving them in ashes. Such examples are quite frequent in Bukovina and northern Moldavia, as well as Crisana, Banat and Oltenia, and elsewhere too, unfortunately including the counties of Covasna, Harghita and Mures.Unfortunately indeed, since they are home to some of Romania’s largest and most valuable forests now subjected to unprecedented plundering, places that fall prey to macabre political meddling in support of the so-called “autonomous territories” being established, hostile to, among others, European legislation. This led to an organisational void. In Harghita County, to give but one example, over 25,000 hectares of forests, or nearly 10 pc of the forest area in the county, are under no administration whatsoever. State or private forest authorities cannot cope with the plundering that resulted in over 100,000 cubic metres of wood stolen lately.It got to the point that the buying of votes is accompanied by the tacit approval of forest thefts, obviously with the nod from local political decision makers, but also due to the irresponsible conduct of forest bodies, some of which have long been suspected of incompetence, but also favouring perpetrators in exchange for personal gains. Many of the authors of such plunders blame such acts on the reckless decision in the 1990s for the former owners of the forest property nationalised in 1948 to be given ownership deeds without the owners actually being put in possession.The said forest areas have therefore been taken out of the state administration without going to their owners actually, which led to the forests becoming a sort of no man’s land plundered by either thieves or the purported owners vying for who gets the most at the soonest. At least 2 M hectares of forests have therefore been plundered over the past two decades.However, the exact figure is yet to be known, and that, because of a tragic-comical paradox, an apologetic argument offered by the current minister of forests, who has recently announced that the ministry he is heading does not know the exact surface area of forest areas in Romania, which will lead to a forest inventory being made soon. Yet, why now? Since, the minister arrogantly retorted, it is the previous governments that should take the blame for it!While this is true, the incumbent minister has been in office since 2008, which begs the question how is it possible to manage an area whose dimensions are unknown to you? Shouldn’t be that, it is exactly such wilful ignorance that lies at the core of the current disastrous state of Romanian forests? And isn’t exactly such governmental recklessness that has been generating the increasingly worse climatic, economic, administrative and legal drawbacks?The answers to those questions is self-explanatory considering our being aware that, had those forests been exploited in reasonable fashion, not for the raw, but the industrial processed wood, the nearly 2 M hectares of forests plundered so far could have brought this country revenues in excess of 15 bln euros. Instead, it would take over EUR 5 bln to replant the plundered forests, experts say, adding to which is the cost of the time required for brushes to reach maturity.Unfortunately, not only that the forest disaster is getting worse year by year due mostly to government decision makers, among whom some are directly linked to raw wood exports. That Romanian exports has for years exceeded imports is a fact, and so is the raw wood mostly allowing minimum export quotas being met Since some of “our” forest administrators have relatives living in Romania’s neighbouring countries, it is exactly the quality of Romanian wood exports that salvaged the furniture industry in Hungary from vanishing, to give you just one example.Under such pressure, even the new Forest Code is favouring forest exploitation rather than cultivation. Some legislative provisions define as criminal only the woodcuts that exceed 5 cubic meters, which means the thieves who steal 3-4 cubic meters only risk petty fines whose payment is postponed indefinitely. Why should we be surprised then that more than half of the 7,000 case files have not reached the courts?Romanian forest destruction has become a “lucrative business” that draws many foreign investors too, with a significant contribution to the Romanian forest area declining by over 7 pc, while in their countries, such rates refer to the increase in forest areas instead. When prestigious international bodies have recently outlined that the protection and growth of the forest asset fund are the main means of defence against global warming accompanied by droughts, a harbinger of hunger, some of the political decision makers in this country “declined” their incompetence, accusing the “corrupt state” instead, pretending to forget that they too were and are ruling this country and that makes them promoters of this corrupt state.Hence it results that it is not climatic changes, but unaccountability and the theft from the national forest property that are first and foremost  fuelling factors of Romania’s imminent economic collapse.

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