A new ministerial order in Romania spells out the criteria for identification of virgin forests – a key measure that will lead to the full protection of this important European treasure. The order was signed in September by Rovana Plumb, Romania’s Minister of Environment and Forests.
Establishing the criteria was the first objective in the Memorandum of understanding from December 2011 between the Romanian Ministry of Environment and Forests and WWF Romania after a successful WWF campaign aimed at saving Romania’s virgin forests.
A year ago only our experts were talking about the invaluable virgin forest of Romania. Today it’s all our people who are aware of virgin forests and are engaged in their protection,” said Magor Csibi, Country Manager of WWF in Romania. “The fact that this order was signed today is proof that people can dictate the political agenda in Romania. The law has changed in favor of virgin forests because people demanded it.”
“As a citizen and MEP, I signed WWF’s petition to protect virgin forests in our country. After a lengthy process and cooperation with WWF Romania and representatives of Romsilva (National Forest Administration), ICAS (Forest research and Management Institute) and the Romanian Academy and Forest Owners Association, we can today put in place measures to protect virgin forests,” said Rovana Plumb, Minister of Environment and Forests. “We are now in the position to start mapping virgin forests, develop a national inventory of virgin forests and create a framework for providing compensations for forest owners.”
To solve the problem of compensations, the Ministry of Environment and Forests and WWF Romania intend to submit a proposal to the European Commission to include compensation payments for virgin forests owners in the programming period 2014–2020. In the short term, the Ministry of Environment and Forests and WWF Romania will identify alternative financial mechanisms for compensations to virgin forests owners.
WWF Romania will participate with expertise in drafting legislative documents and mapping virgin forests, the cost of providing this service being a minimum of 100,000 Euros.
Virgin or old growth forests are untouched by humans, the last places where nature survives in its pure state. They are wonderful complex systems where seedlings, young, mature and old trees are interspersed by very large, imposing trees. Dead trees and decaying logs are just as important as the living trees, building up an environment that is home for many different flora and fauna species. Virgin forests are an important part of Europe’s natural heritage and were lost mostly due to bad management. Their scientific, educational, and ecological value is undisputed.