Feature 10 Jul 17

Romania’s Vanishing Forests Leave Villages in Peril

Illegal logging continue to devastate Romania, leaving villages exposed to floods and landslides, while environmentalists and activists blaming corruption and weak penalties for the problem.

Ana Maria Touma
Volunteers from across Romania have been documenting illegal logging and alerting both environmental organizations and the authorities; Greenpeace says 42 percent of cases in 2016 have been reported by citizens. Photo: salvezpadurea.ro

Residents of Asau village in Bacau County, in eastern Romania, live at the foot of a mountain in the eastern Carpathians, which was once thick and green but now lies bare after decades of illegal logging.

The loss of trees has brought floods and landslides to the area. These started back in 2005 but have worsened over time.

The latest major landslide took place almost exactly a year ago, when an entire slope of the mountain slid down 2.5 kilometres, destroying 12 houses on the way.

Years ago, none of the villagers would have expected the Ciobanus. a small mountain stream, to cause such massive landslides, but as the mountain grew bare, there was nothing left to save the village from the slides.

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