WWF: Illegal logging in Romania exploded after government capped the price of firewood
Illegal logging has become part of the norm in many parts of Romania, with close to half of the trucks carrying wood out of the country’s forests doing so illegally, according to the Romanian branch of environmental NGO World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
The phenomenon of illegal logging, already plaguing Romanian forests before, worsened significantly weeks after a government ordinance capping the price of firewood at RON 400 (EUR 82) per cubic meter. A recent WWF investigation showed that over 40% of the wood shipments coming out of forests in Brasov and Sibiu counties are illegal. The NGO also says that SUMAL, the government interface used to track logging areas and shipments of timber, cannot keep up with the number of cases that have been signaled.
“The results are absolutely worrying, especially considering that all the locations where we carried out this sampling were not previously considered areas at risk of being impacted by illegal logging,” the WWF press release says.
WWF found that 26% of all the wood shipments they identified were wholly illegal, having no SUMAL code or permit. Another 31% were carrying more wood, up to 10 cubic meters, than they were allowed to. This method of introducing illegally logged wood on the market, WWF says, is allowed by the government tracking system, SUMAL.
“Our forests are condemned and used to pay the bill for a poorly managed energy crisis,” said Radu Vlad, coordinator of regional projects in the field of forests at WWF Romania.
The NGO argues that the capped price of firewood does not cover the costs connected to logging and transporting, and forces people to become dependent on a blossoming illegal trade.
About 3 million households in Romania use firewood for heating.