The sudden move from wind and showers with massive hailstorms to tropical heat that risk setting vegetal crops ablaze strongly proves the danger of weather changes. At least in Romania, these changes are largely caused by the political and economic errors which led to the disaster of forests over the last two decades. Our traditional saying about ‘The forest is the brother of the Romanian’ is ever more obvious today, when average Romanians – often mislead by politicians – are the worst hit by the disaster of forests.
The long succession of the heavy rain episodes, for instance, had terrible consequences, some of which will never be erased. Storms and hail destroyed whole rural localities, removed from the productive circuit tens of thousands of hectares of farmland and vineyards, damaged dams and bridges, flooded roads and railroads. Entire hills, with houses, schools, hospitals and other buildings were washed by the torrents fed by the rain that brought more than 60 liters of water per square meter.
The material losses are appalling.
But even more terrible is the human suffering. As a flash-flood was forming, an 80 year old grandfather from the Iasi County took his grandson and rushed towards a shelter, which he did not reach. Both the old man and the child were found dead three days later, covered by mud. Another child, caught by water, had the same fate, same as a man working his field, who had nowhere to run when the water came rushing. The image of the old woman who lost her only possessions – several hens, drowned by the torrent – unfortunately became a symbol of our present, increasingly undermined by poverty – also by the political one.
It is not the moody nature, but the draught of Romanian governances that caused these misfortunes, so frequent that our politicians from all parties relegate them to “miscellanea” and promptly forget them the next day. The daily fights between parties, with massive reciprocal accusations, while rejecting the complementariness of efforts, has become a main attribute of the Romanian politics. An attribute that is only attenuated on the occasion of these massive misfortunes, when our political factors show solidarity in the reassuring conclusion that “nature is to blame” for its ever more frequent “moods.” When, in fact, these “moods of nature” are for Romanian politicians only the mask of their ultra-draughty governances.
Ultra-draughty governments not only for the fact that they produce nothing new in terms of value, but they do not even preserve the traditional values of the Romanian climate. Values which start with our forest fund. Precisely by undermining the Romanian forest fund, immediately after the ‘95-’96 of last century, the signal was given for the future massive destructions. Following the model of the destruction of forests a number of industrial branches collapsed as well, thus being transformed in sources of unemployment and scrap iron. Precisely through such ways, such anti-national methods of Romanian politics, our country arrived in a short time in the situation of importing more than it exports. And this export is dominated by scrap iron.
The scrap iron export is exceeded only by that of raw, unprocessed wood. The destruction of forests, their sale as raw wood created the first of the wealthiest Romanians, whose first lesson – which they often invoke – is that the disappearance of forests is a global phenomenon. This also happens in the European Union. “How can we observe the ecological imperatives if they cannot be observed even in the EU?” – demand the rulers of Romania, now embracing the idea of complete integration in the EU. These rules informed themselves on time and excuse themselves using the fact that some of the strongly industrialised countries, intensely polluted, buy the commitments of smaller and underdeveloped countries to keep a slow pace of industrialisation.
The consequences of this tragic contemporary phenomenon amplify even more in Romania, impoverished not only in economic terms, but also in terms of organisation, politics, education and even legal aspects. The destruction of Romanian forests today became such a general, frequent and intense phenomenon that it passes as granted. If 15-20 years ago trees were illegally cut especially during cold winters, today the phenomenon of destruction generalised and, implicitly, intensified. Not only the mob networks, infiltrated down to the level of the smallest rural localities, but also state organisation structures, including some pretended forestry ones, are so much dominated by the illegal businesses of cutting trees that there is no longer time for the culture and protection of forests. These networks call the forest “the big mute,” which one can violently abuse anytime, because “it is silent.”
The approximately 2 million hectares of forest robbed during the last 20 years could have brought the country an income exceeding EUR 15 bln, if exploited not as raw wood, but industrially processed. But even these EUR 15 bln can justify the environmental and climate disaster resulting from the irrational deforestation? Certainly not, because the environmental consequences of these destructions amplify in time and cause, as we see today, losses of human lives and countless other damages, incomparably bigger and heavier than the benefit of wood sales. These elementary conclusions are accepted even by rulers. But this is only for the sake of appearance, masking their subterfuges meant to get them rich. This is how the old Forest Code favours the exploitation of forests, rather than their culture.
From this perspective it was a welcome move the recent launch to public debate of the new Forest Code. It will be legalised after the debates held in April this year, in all social media. Its provisions are stricter and more precise than the previous ones, so there are no unknown culprits and unpaid fines. The sanctions will be harsher also in terms of volume and quality of the stolen wood. The crime will no start, as is the case now, with the illegal cutting of more than 5 cubic meters, but will be enforced even for less than 1 cu m.
The new Forest Code is welcome. But the problem is: Why the delay in enforcing it? Could it be that mob networks extend their influence even in the decision making structures of the state? The climate disasters experienced of late imbue these interrogations with an even stronger accent.