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September 28, 2022

EIA reports Schweighofer continues to source timber from Romanian national parks; company denies wrongdoing

Austria’s Holzindustrie Schweighofer continues to source timber from Romania’s national parks, despite five years of public pledges not to, according to a recent report drawn by the US Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

Data obtained by EIA indicates that Schweighofer sources logs from over 250 separate depots all around Romania, without being able to trace the actual origin.

EIA’s investigation has determined that Schweighofer’s log suppliers have transported over 35,000 cubic metres of timber from just two national parks – the Rodna and Calimani National Parks in the 18 months from January 2017 to June 2018.

EIA analysed 18 months of data from the Forest Inspector website to identify over 50 logging sites in two national parks in northern Romania where Schweighofer suppliers regularly source timber.

EIA’s evidence indicates that all companies sourcing from third-party depots in Romania operate with same lack of traceability as does Schweighofer.

EIA conducted a brief study to get a view into the raw materials supply chains feeding Kronospan and Egger – two of the other largest wood products companies in Romania; both are Austrian, and both have close business links to Schweighofer.

In response, Schweighofer representatives says in a press statement released on Tuesday that each company supplier must prove the origin of the timber and if it comes from a national park, the company waives its purchase.

“As soon as the experts in the supply chain at Holzindustrie Schweighofer find out that timber from national parks reaches a log depots (which is legal with wood from the buffer zones of the national parks), the company does not accept deliveries from such depots. Depot operator can supply log to Holzindustrie Schweighofer during this lock-up period only if it has other harvesting locations outside the national parks and the deliveries are made directly from the forest to the factories of the company and are monitored by Timflow,” Schweighofer officials said.

According to Schweighofer, these things are clearly stipulated in contracts.

“Holzindustrie Schweighofer has stepped up its dialogue with environmental NGOs and takes their criticisms and suggestions seriously,” according to the statement.

At the same time, EIA draws attention to the fast depletion of forests in Romania.

“Romania’s Carpathian Mountains once housed the majority of the remaining old growth forests in Europe, with the continent’s largest populations of bears, wolves, and lynx. Recent estimates indicate that as many as two-thirds of these forests have been lost in just the past decade (…) A 2005 scientific survey estimated that Romania contained two-thirds of Europe’s last remaining virgin forests, totaling around 300,000 hectares. Recent analyses are still ongoing, but forecasts are pessimistic. Researchers estimate that the 2018 total will be closer to 100,000 hectares,” according to the EIA report.

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