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May 12, 2021

“Deaf and absurd” – guess who?

Maybe the hopes we had this spring were not higher than the previous years, but they certainly were more intense. Their intensiveness came, as every time, from the troubles of the past winter. And the biggest troubles of last winter occurred in the forestry sector. If, in an annual report, 3 hectares represent the daily average of illegal cuts, as statisticians say, in winter the respective fateful figure increases immensely. The extent of the illegal deforestation during winter led to forest being felled on large areas, barren mountains, hills, valleys and fields, deprived of the protection represented by forest. Thus, from the more than 8 million ha of forest it had in 1989, Romania is now left with maximum 6.5 million ha.
The hope of new reforestations this spring was very high. Many hoped in a record of this kind. The saplings to be planted were largely ready in due time, equally prepared were the areas to be forested, especially after many of them suffered from blizzards and relatively recent catastrophic floods.

The leading authorities at all levels – local, county, even national – made pathetical promises regarding the new reforestations planned for the most barren areas, which are exposed to the caprices of nature. Many promises also referred to the forest curtains that are increasingly necessary in order to protect railways, roads and motorways. But the extent of these reforestations, as publicly announced, proves to be much under the initial commitments. The most remarkable efforts were made by structures of the civil society. Their enthusiasm and good faith cast an even more embarrassing light upon the efforts of authorities, which largely is a consequence of a wrong and damaging state of mind that forest “is silent and endures anything.”
Under the pressure of this irresponsible state of mind, it is no wonder that the destruction of Romania’s forests takes momentum. In regions like Maramures, Suceava, Bacau a.o. hundreds of hectares of forest are destroyed day and night. The fear from the punishments of illegal cuts rapidly diminishes when it becomes public a fact like that occurred in the Valcea County, where three mountains with hundreds of hectares of forest were returned to so-called claimants through surprising court decisions. This is the same kind of property retrocession which targeted whole villages in Transylvania, whose thousands of inhabitants suddenly found themselves overnight with all their properties confiscated, which threw them more than a century ago, to the state of “serfs.”
Under the pressure of such errors, also judiciary, a protest was staged in Bucharest, before the government HQ, by hundreds of people wishing to protect the forest. Plundered forests, about to become extinct because of the illegal cuts that cannot be opposed by the local authorities anymore. Let alone the oscillating attitude of some forest authorities, and also of some members of the Parliament, who were more than once involved in the fraudulent retrocessions of forests or in their abusive felling. The frequency and seriousness of such cases worried even the ruling factors of the EU, which benefits – in terms of weather – from the existence of Romanian forests. Following such external reactions, the ruling politicians of Romania act as usually and suddenly adopt the opposite point of view, formally adhering to the “European worries.” However, in reality they remain “deaf and absurd.”
On one hand, they “comply” with the demands of the EU and draft a new Forest Code that will protect the Romanian areas of green, but on the other, after countless backstage discussions over this draft act of “European profile”, they jump to a different matter and forget about yesterday. Thus, the new Forest Code is pretty much forgotten now, because of various reasons, including the fact that some of our elects in Parliament are directly involved, as beneficiaries, in the large-scale decentralisation and privatisation of Romanian forests. Whose abusive and illegal exploitation which leads to an export of raw wood that is unique in Europe brings much benefit to some neighbour states like Hungary, which transform this cheap wood into expensive furniture. Thus, many of Romania’s traditional forests cease being truly Romanian.
In the climate of the antinational libertinage of the last decades, Romanian forests are considered as belonging to nobody and ripe for plundering. If, at global scale, a surface equal to that of Romania is deforested each year, this percentage of forest destruction is higher in our country. In the 8th decade of last century, forest covered 24.6 pc of the surface of our country, while today the respective figure is reduced under 20 pc. During the same period, the forest surface per capita was 0.30 ha in Romania. It was twice as much as in Germany and 10 times more than in England. Today, after massive deforestation, Romania tends to align itself to Europe precisely in the sector where it blames itself for making big environment, weather, energy and economic errors. In today’s Romania, such errors are amplified by the fact that the massive deforestations do not even come as a support for the local industry of furniture, paper or other products.
How was it, and still is possible the theft of this big Romanian asset? The most damaging hit came from the absurd law passed in the early ‘90s, about the retrocession of forests to their former owners before 1948, when they were expropriated. For the retrocession of forest properties nationalised in 1948, authorities frequently invoked the rule of law. But the rule of law demanded that the more than 2 million retroceded hectares remain under the strict authority of the forest legislation. In order to be better used under a double aspect: economically, to the benefit of their owners, and environmentally, for the entire national territory. The deaf and absurd politicians of those years understood nothing of the imperatives of that time and today millions of hectares of forest are plundered and destroyed.

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