Romanian minister expects positive changes from new Forest Code

Lucia Varga, the Romanian Minister-Delegate for waters, forests and fishery, recently expressed her concerns about the amount of forest logging in the country, which is double the rate of new plantings.
Following a meeting with the management of the Arad County Forestry Directorate, foresters and mayors last week in the city of Ineu (western Romania), the minister said she hopes the new Forest Code would make a “new order in the operation and management of forests in Romania”.
The level of wood export has doubled in 2013 compared to the 2012 and if it continues this way, Romanian furniture factories would soon have a shortage of raw material, according to the governmental official.
The Romanian Senate adopted in early December the law that modifies and completes the Forest Code, however some of Varga’s proposals did not make it into the new law. “I hope I will find more understanding in the Chamber Deputies” she said, referring to the lower house of the Romanian Parliament.
One of the biggest changes included in the new code is that wood will be sold after logging from platforms, not directly from the forests. Creating the necessary infrastructure could take a couple of years, but this way the exact quantity of wood will be known, not by estimation, eliminating the plus or minus 15 percent margin of error which could be used to cover illegal forest exploitation.
National Forest Administration Romsilva will help the owners of forests under 30 hectares to guard them.
The Romanian Minister also discussed corruption among foresters saying that there are a lot of honest people, who love the forest, but warning those caught helping thieves would be excluded from the system once and for all.
In an attempt to “reorganize and clean” the National Forest Administration, Varga proposed an authorization to practice for every forester, which would be definitively canceled in cases of corruption.
However, Romsilva’s union leader rejected the proposal, she said.
The new law also includes toughening penalties for wood theft, reaching the level of criminal offences.
Based on a Greenpeace Romania report published last November, there were 19,500 cases of illegal forest cutting in Romania in 2012 which were followed either by fines, or by criminal charges.
This means around 53 illegal forest logging cases a day, up from 30 cases a day between 2009 and 2011.