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Romania will temporarily limit wood exports to stop illegal logging

Staff writer |
The Romanian Government launched for debate two emergency ordinances meant to tighten up the regulations regarding wood exports and to even suspend them.

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Environment Ministry experts substantiated the decision, saying they were taken based on “the scope of illegal deforestation in recent years and its consequences on citizens’ health and safety and on the environment”.

Official data reveal the area of old- and second-growth forests in Romania has been reduced to a half in the last 25 years. Some 27 million cubic meters of forest is cut down every year, of which only 19 million have the legal documents. Of these, 1 million cubic meters of timber is exported as logs or firewood.

Under the new emergency ordinance, which the Government is scheduled to pass on Wednesday, all exports of logs, timber and firewood will be suspended until August 31. After this date, producers will need to acquire a selling license for all export operations or deliveries within the EU. The document will also stipulate the origin, quantity of each species as well as the destination of timber.

Prime Minister Victor Ponta says the Government’s measure is an attempt to combat timber mafia.

“The president and I, together with Parliament, can work together to stop this phenomenon, which has been plaguing Romania for years, namely illegal deforestation and the illegal timber market. That being said, on Wednesday we are adopting an emergency ordinance banning log exports, we will strengthen the Environment Guard, the Mountain Rangers and take specific measures to make a difference.”

The two laws are aimed at introducing tighter regulations for the wood market until the new Forestry Code comes into effect. President Klaus Iohannis called on the Chamber of Deputies to re-examine the law. The President and the Liberals in opposition claim some of its provisions are in breach of EU legislation.

In response, the Social-Democratic Party, in the ruling coalition, accused the Liberals of promoting the interests of foreign businesses in the wood industry. For the second consecutive weekend, protests were staged in Bucharest and other cities against abusive deforestation in the past 25 years.

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