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Bucharest
October 25, 2021
EDITORIAL

Forest fund – victim to corruption

Older dictionaries define the word “corruption” as “straying away from morality, from duty.” In the present climate of corruption amplified with implications of organized crime the respective definition seems addressed exclusively to children, so they can sleep at peace. In fact, the corruption existing now in Romania has valences that precede a civil war. Why? Because corruption no longer acts in its traditional ways, but perfidiously goes as far as violently claiming positive characteristics. For instance, the current criminal corruption in Romania allegedly is a godsend that promotes “modernity”, “progress,” even if the real effects of these “qualities” are masked with an equally criminal perfidy.
The most conclusive and eloquent example with this regard comes from the Parliament of Romania where, recently, a group of 38 “elects of the people” signed an alarmingly serious draft law.

Because some of these MPs are forest owners, the draft provides that much of Romania’s forested area is extracted from the forest fund and transferred to the nearest localities. Why? Because, by partly cutting these forests, one can build guesthouses with restaurants, sports grounds etc. The pretended objective of this dirty scheme is the massive cutting of huge forested areas, after removing them from the authority of the forest laws.
Under the pressure of the public opinion, revolted by this act of virulent perfidy, several members of the Parliament declared themselves against this draft law. Then followed another peak of the tragicomic ridicule. With the exception of forest owners, the other signatories of the respective draft said that they do not know what they signed, or why they signed. With such factors of constitutional power, it is no wonder that the theft of Romanian forests is unequalled in Europe, at least during the last century. Approximately one million hectares of forest disappeared in Romania because of the disaster that started more than two decades ago, which reached today a record 3 hectares of forest destroyed by robbery every hour of the day and night.
In the summer of 1968, the surface of the Romanian forest fund amounted to more than 6.5 million hectares, a very high figure in European context. From this natural situation, in permanent expansion until the ‘90s, Romania collapsed during the last two decades. The savage deforestation reached the aforementioned apogee: 3 hectares of forest destroyed every hour of the day and of the night. And as this theft gains momentum, the dramatic climate changes hit Romania each year, with frequent draught or floods, massive landslides and the destruction of many ways of communication, of protection dikes, dams etc. Romania was thus pushed toward an acute environment and economic imbalance, precisely because of the arid thinking of its governments.
How was it – and still is – possible to reach such a national disaster? The strongest blow was dealt by the absurd law passed in the early ‘90s, referring to the retrocession of forested areas to their former owners before 1948, when they were expropriated. For the retrocession of forested areas, nationalized in 1948, the principles of the rule of law were often invoked. But the very rule of law demanded that the more than 2 million hectares of retroceded forest remain under the strict authority of the forest regime. In order to be used of a superior manner, under a double aspect: economic, for the benefit of owners, and environmental, for the benefit of the whole national territory. Extracted through corruption from the authority of the forest regime, the immense majority of these 2 million hectares of forest are now destroyed by thieving. Besides the massive theft of wood, operated by many interlopers, even the new owners infringe any legal regulation and savagely cut the forests, without any effort of reforestation.
The politicians of Romania, many of whom amassed huge wealth from being involved in the illegal exploitation of forests, frequently try to divert our attention from this theft without precedent. They “reassure” us saying that today the cutting of forests has a global character, not just Romanian. But they forget to mention that this global cataclysm is mainly explained through the fact that the great powers of the world, in contrast with the much-invoked attributes of collaboration and complementariness of efforts, are unable to integrally keep their environmental commitments. In exchange, they buy the commitments of smaller states, less developed economically, to maintain a low rate of industrialization. But precisely this low rate of industrialization, with increasing labor force and unemployment, stimulates be reverse the overuse of the forest potential. Which overuse, in our case, takes the aspect of theft. And the theft of forests annuls the protection of mountains, hills and valleys, favoring catastrophic floods, blizzards, snowstorms and hailstorms, while the draught removes from the agricultural circuit thousands of hectares of farmland and vineyards.
And because the forest disaster in Romania worries even the EU, whose climate benefits from Romanian forests, Romanian rulers turn on their heels and adhere to the European worries. But, of course, only formally. On one hand they respect the demands of the EU and draft a new Forest Code that protects Romanian forests, while on the other, after many sterile discussions about this new Forest Code, they forget to enforce it. Today, nobody knows anything precise about this document. Neither if it was put on debate in Parliament, nor if and when it will come into effect.
The cause of this general ignorance derives from the fact that some of “our elects” are directly involved, as beneficiaries, in the privatization and sacrificing of Romanian forests. Whose abusive, illegal exploitation with massive export to Europe of raw, unprocessed wood brings many benefits to importing states like Hungary, which slowly transforms this import of cheap wood into export of expensive furniture. Thus exploited and used, many of our forests cease being truly Romanian.

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