On Sunday, thousands of people protested in several cities across Romania against illegal logging and violence against forest rangers. The "Forest March" was organized by Greenpeace, Agent Green and Declic, organizations that are trying to draw attention to the negative effects of massive deforestation. Green organizations have reported on recent cases of forest rangers killed by illegal loggers. In the past six years, 6 rangers have been killed and hundreds of others have been beaten and threatened by such loggers, caught while cutting or stealing wood.
The protesters asked for satellite forest monitoring, an electronic registry for wood deposits, compulsory GPS tracking for lumber-carrying means of transportation and video surveillance cameras in key points.
The latest data taken from the National Forestry Inventory show that illegal logging has reached an unprecedented level and the effects are many: barren hill sides, landslides, avalanches, disastrous flooding, desert-like lands, pollution, to mention just a few.
Radu Melu, the coordinator of the National Forest Department of World Wild Fund for Nature Romania proposes solutions such as wood control upon exiting the forest and digital truck footprints:
"We have an effective solution, which we have discussed with all the stakeholders in the field. The idea is to drop the stump marking system, which has proven totally ineffective in the past 30 years, and to focus on the EC provisions regarding the control of wood upon its first reaching the market. Unfortunately, ours is a very old system, that is not even taken into consideration in court."
Romsilva, which manages the state-owned forests, claims that some 50,000 cubic meters of wood are cut illegally every year. The green organizations, however, say that the real quantity of stolen wood stands at 8.8 million cubic meters yearly. In the past years, they have revealed the real scale of the phenomenon and have shown how the mafia works. Unfortunately, there are too many people and interests involved, from forestry workers to politicians.
Massive deforestation has also affected the bears' habitat and they are now seen quite frequently coming down to human settlings in search for food. Recently, a man has been killed and several people wounded by bears in Romania.