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New legislation aims to save the country’s remaining unspoilt forests from destruction at the hands of loggers.
Romania's Environment Ministry on Tuesday adopted new legislation to better protect the country’s forests, which activists say are in danger of being destroyed.
“From now on all 210,000 hectares of virgin forests in Romania will be protected as no more human intervention will be allowed in these areas,” the Environment Minister, Rovana Plumb, pledged.
Environmental activists welcomed the news. “We are happy that the Environment Ministry has taken into consideration our proposals for the better protection of country’s unspoilt forests, which are more vulnerable than ever to socio-economic pressures,” Magor Csibi, from the World Wide Fund for Nature Romania, said.
Last year, WWF Romania initiated a petition, which over 100,000 people signed, urging the government to change the law on protection of the forests.
Romania is home to about 65 per cent of the virgin forests still remaining in Europe, outside Russia.
They are mainly situated in the mountainous Carpathian region, but only 20 per cent of these old forests were actually protected by law by being included in national parks.
While the law says all virgin forest should have been included in national and nature parks, in reality this was not the case.
Partly this was because much of this forestry is situated in inaccessible valleys, or on high mountains slopes which are not part of the parks.
Support for Romania's endangered forests has come from the heir to the British throne, the Prince of Wales, who recently warned that Romania could end up with huge barren areas like the Highlands of Scotland or like parts of Canada that were also once covered by forest.
“If we carry on the same way we end up with destruction occurring and people saying later on 'We want this back,'" Prince Charles said.
The Prince has a longstanding connection with Romania, having purchased a house in a village in the country's Transylvania region.
Romania has around 6.4 million hectares of forest and 120,000 people employed in the forestry sector.
Before 1990, all of Romania’s forests were state-owned. But by the end of 2010 the state owned only 66.3 per cent of the country’s forests. The ratio has since declined to 52.2 per cent.
These forests are the last reserve of some of the rarest mammals in Europe, such as as the brown bear, the lynx and the wolf.
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