May 11, 2017 Deforestation Written by Greentumble
illegal deforestation in Romania
Greentumble is excited to be supporting

a very important project raising awareness about the illegal deforestation happening in Romania which has organisations such as Greenpeace and WWF very concerned. International media production team VolodHendrix are fundraising through kickstarter to film Virgo, a documentary which will take viewers on a trip across Romania’s virgin forests. The documentary will explore about 4,000 kilometres in 70 different locations to showcase Romania’s unique biodiversity which is important for the whole of the European continent and indeed the world.

Romania’s forests, also known as the lungs of Europe, are home to the largest number of bears, wolves and lynxes as well as one third of all European plants!

But they are facing a tremendous threat: Romania is losing three hectares of forest per hour putting at risk the natural habitats of thousands of species, decreasing our potential to absorb carbon through sequestration as well as impacting clean air in Europe.

Environmental activists and organisations have longed call for action to halt deforestation given the illegal logging activities that emerged following the fall of the communist regime. For example, Gabriel Paun, head of activist group Agent Green, has highlighted that illegal logging has inflicted losses of at least €5 billion on Romania since the communist regime was toppled in 1989 [1].

So far, deforestation has reduced Romania’s forest cover to about 26% of the total land area. What is more, even when land is considered as “woodland”, in reality, a lot of places have been severely trimmed down or completely removed, without any chances of regeneration [2].

But recent evidence of illegal deforestation are truly alarming and require urgent action, not only in Romania but across the region. Indeed, the European Union is keeping a close eye on developments as the EU’s Timber Regulation obliges timber firms to make sure they do not source and place on the EU market products made from illegally harvested logs [1].

It is telling that according to WWF, Romania is still facing an infringement procedure on this specific piece of legislation because, even though it is one of the biggest EU timber producers, it has not yet adopted a full system of proportionate and dissuasive penalties applicable to infringements of the provisions of this regulation [3].

In other words, there are no incentives for operators to comply with legal requirements cause the penalties are too low.

Documenting the story of illegal deforestation in Romania

Volod and Hendrix, the team behind Virgo, decided they could not stay silent in the face of such immense destruction. “We are concerned about the planet’s future and want to do something about it. And we want to do it with powerful stories!”, say Volod and Hendrix as they prepare for this project They decided to put together a documentary to literally show viewers what is at stake.

They are going on a four-week road trip across Romania to explore and document the untouched biodiversity of Romanian forests, as well as the deforested areas and the endangered corners. The team wants to show the wildlife of the forest, its connection to the country’s culture, its influence and importance for the entire planet. In order to enable viewers to experience this journey just as if they were there themselves, the team will be using drones to show birds’ point of views, tilt shots from the ground, close ups of nature and slider shots to drag you right into the story.

The VolodHendrix team need our help to raise the funds needed for realising this important documentary. The Greentumble team are doing their bit by raising awareness about this project and we hope our readers will be supporting it too! Find out more about the project and how you can help by visiting Virgo’s kickstarter campaign and VolodHendrix’s website.

To paraphrase a Romanian saying:

“Let us all be brothers to the forest!”

It is important to raise awareness about this natural catastrophe happening in Europe as we speak. Let’s be clear – where there is citizen press to act, politicians will follow. And in the case of Romania there is a clear political deficit.

As WWF indicates, while forest degradation through illegal logging has been declared “a threat to national security” –  a very progressive approach compared to other European countries – it appears that despite the creation of a well-resourced Forest Guard to counteract illegal activities, the Romanian Parliament was blocking the work of this institution [3].