January 27, 2023

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The European Union will force member states to use satellites to stop deforestation

The European Parliament wants to stop deforestation and use satellites to monitor forests.

He thus wants to save the last centuries-old forests of the continent. As a result, it adopted a resolution and regulation aimed at achieving the objectives. The Minister of the Environment says that Romania can comply with the requirements, while environmental activists claim that there is still a lot of illegal logging. The strategy must also be adopted by the European Council to enter into force.

An old forest of 12,500 hectares near Iasi is melting under the chainsaws. Only 1% enjoy strict protection. Mihai Diac, one of the founders of the Codrii Iașilor community, says that, in addition to the trees marked by the foresters, others are also cut down illegally.

Mihai Diac, founder of the Codrii Iașilor community: “Here an old one was cut down, next to it a rowan, which is a valuable tree, the forest of tomorrow was supposed to be. We signaled and they also put a pentagonal mark on him, which means theft.”

But illegal logging is hard to prove. In Telciu commune in Bistrita county, the locals made several petitions to report the robbery. Then they led the commissioners of the Environmental Guard to the stumps left in the forest. Finally, the investigators descended on the headquarters of the forestry department and the companies that exploited the wood. The criminal case is still pending.

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The European Union strategy will oblige member states to use modern technology, such as the Copernicus satellites, to detect timber theft.

Gabriel Păun, Agent Green: “Those high-resolution satellite images can be contracted for free by the Government of Romania to be introduced as an additional module of the current forest inspector, if desired. This is exactly what the EC and the EP are aiming for, so that it is no longer optional in Romania, but mandatory.”

The European Parliament thus wants to save the last secular and primary forests on the continent. Most of them are located on the territory of Romania. It benefits from strict protection, theoretically.

Vlad Gheorghe, MEP: “The problem is that the Romanian authorities kept moving the edges of these protection zones. The regulation and the strategy define these areas much better and it is much harder to move the commas.”

Environmental activists notified the European Commission that entire slopes in the Făgăraș Mountains or in Maramureș were left bare. Now, the forests must be restored. The European Union aims to plant 3 billion trees in the next 30 years.

Tanczos Barna, Minister of the Environment: “We have to focus on planting, on increasing the forested areas, and we have the PNRR at our disposal, we have the money at our disposal, the program that will be launched in a few weeks, we have the IT systems ready and the guide passed in public consultation.”

According to the activists from Agent Green, 6 hectares of forest are cut every hour in Romania. For heating, say those from the Ministry of the Environment, we burn almost a third of the extracted wood. The European Parliament calls on member states to make the use of trees for energy production sustainable. And it promises financial incentives for those who adopt techniques to protect and restore the forest stock.

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