5.3 C
Bucharest
December 7, 2022
EDITORIAL

Nature takes revenge for ecological disaster

Except earthquakes, the other natural phenomena that cause disaster are increasingly kept under control. This happens not only in technologically developed states, but in many other countries that respect nature. This respect transforms nature into a generous ally of mankind. When it comes to respecting nature, Romania is a painful exception in many respects. It is known that, since ancient times, Romanian communities could preserve their existence and ethnic individuality due to the thick forests that covered hills and mountains, where they took shelter from the invasions of barbarian tribes. The very nature of invaders prevented them from entering dark and forested areas, as they were people of the plains and steppes. This protective cohabitation of Romanians with the surrounding nature, our folkloric poetry, unique through its frequency and beauty, usually starts by the reassuring invocation “green leaf.” And the expression “the wood – the Romanian’s brother” has become an element of national biography.This sentiment of cohabitation with the surrounding nature has survived until today, but it lost the harmony of the old times, given the fury with which nature strikes everywhere nowadays. Of late, Romania has endured either blizzard and massive snowfalls, or long intervals of draught that ravage crops and set them ablaze, or downpours which cause endless floods. These disasters affect hundreds of localities from many regions situated in various geographic conditions. A telltale picture is portrayed by the floods which are ravaging Romania these days, after the heavy rains of past weeks. The entire region of eastern and southern hills, as well as many other localities throughout the country, the raging water destroyed roads, railroads and bridges, flooded many localities and left others isolated. Children can no longer go to school, patients cannot reach hospital, pregnant women are forced to give birth at home, and village shops have no possibility to restock food and water. Meanwhile at plain, on areas that endured a savage process of deforestation, thousands of hectares of farmland are covered by water, mud and debris carried by the torrents that crops and cultivated areas. In counties like Vrancea, Bacau etc, local authorities asked the government to declare a state of necessity, as many inhabitants are at risk of losing their homes and don’t even have drinking water.The situation of these localities was worsened by a sad reality that does not pertain to the fury of nature, but to the actions of people that do not care for nature or laws. This criminal behavior caused the disaster of Romanian forests. For many years, the EU has warned Romania about the dwindling surfaces of green and forested areas, which affect the entire European climate. In spite of all these warnings that come from abroad and of the disasters that struck the country, the process of deforestation continues unabated. The only reason for this ongoing disaster is the lust for money of those who destroy the forest, favored by the blamable carelessness of local and government authorities. These authorities have their own interest in the destruction of forests, as the meager Romanian exports of these last decades consisted mostly of raw, unprocessed wood. Furthermore, many Romanian ministers have relatives in neighbor countries, so the Romanian exports of raw wood have contributed to the revival of the Hungarian furniture industry.The approximately 2 million hectares of forest robbed over the last 20 years could have brought the country an income of more than EUR 15 bln, if the wood was processed by the local industry, rather than exported in raw state. But is even this sum enough justification for the irrational process of deforestation? Certainly not, because they provoke weather changes that amplify each year, and the resulting disasters take lives and destroy properties much more valuable than the money obtained from the sales of wood. Everybody agrees to it, the government too, but all kind of subterfuges are found in order to satisfy the sick lust for money of people in high places. Thus, the new Forest Code favors exploiting forests, rather than planting them. It criminalises only cutting more than 5 cubic meters of wood and sets in place petty sanctions for those who illegally cut less than this quantity. Under the new Code, successively stealing 1-2 cubic meters of wood each day must only pay a small fine, which can be delayed ‘sine die.’ The result of this legal oversight? Long files of small vehicles, carrying 1-2 cubic meters of wood, are present each day on forest roads, only risking fines that are both small and infrequent.Things are so serious that, during electoral campaigns, voters are also lured with the tacit promise of turning a blind eye to illegal woodcuts. Many of those in charge with forests also justify the theft through the serious mistakes made, in the ‘90s, during the process of returning lands and forests to their former owners, who had lost them during the 1948 nationalisation. After the fall of communism in 1989, authorities issued property certificates to former owners, but did not properly put them in possession of their lands. The effect was that these forested areas belonged neither to the state, nor to their new owners, and in fact belonged to nobody. This was like an open invitation to wood thieves, who promptly jumped at the opportunity. In their turn, the new owners rushed to cut what trees were left, competing with the thieves. The destruction of Romanian forests thus became a golden opportunity which also attracted foreign investors. The end consequence? The surface covered by forest declined by more than 7 pc last year, while in developed countries it increases each year by a similar percentage.Thus, rather than the much-evoked universal weather changes, Romania’s natural disasters are caused by irresponsibility, negligence and the criminal plundering of forested areas. Confronted with this undisputable truth, our past and present rulers defend themselves by accusing the corrupt state. They seem to forget that it is them, and their entourage, that created and led this corrupt state.

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