Romania: People power protects Europe’s largest virgin forest
As the Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest switched off its lights for Earth Hour 2011 in March, Romanian’s took to the streets of their capital with peddle power, reclaiming the roads for the people in an Earth Hour bike ride that was hailed “a victory of the bike over the car”.
Eight months later the citizens of Romania have gone beyond the hour claiming another victory for the planet, with tens of thousands of people rallying behind a campaign by WWF to protect one of Europe’s largest and last remaining virgin forests.
Romania’s forests represent up to 65% of the virgin forests still remaining in Europe, outside of Russia, 80% of which are still unprotected. Virgin or old growth forests are untouched by humans and are the last places where nature survives in its purest state.
One month after the launch of WWF’s ‘Save the virgin forests!’ campaign, signed by around 100,000 individuals, a ministerial commitment was secured setting a course of action to protect Romania’s forests and up to 13,000 species that call them home.
On his recent visit to Sinca forest where the effects of legal logging are evident, Minister of Environment and Forests, Mr Laszlo Borbely, announced, “By the end of the year we hope to finalize the legislative act which will put all our virgin forests under protection”.
Within the coming weeks a Memorandum of Understanding between WWF and the Ministry of Environment and Forests will be signed which will stipulate what actions will be taken to ensure legal protection of Romania’s most important forests.
Legislative protection of their pristine forests is a win for the people of Romania where virgin forests have become a ‘hot topic’, says Country Manager of the WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme in Romania, Magor Csibi, “Today we see the light at the end of the tunnel for the first time. A Memorandum of Understanding with the authorities would guarantee that the problem will be solved.”