Petition to Protect Carpathian National Parks in Romania

To: Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
In attention to: Ms. Gratiela Leocadia Gavrilescu, vicepresident


Dear Ms. Grațiela Leocadia Gavrilescu, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change of Romania,

Dear Ms. Viorica Dăncilă, Prime-Minister of Romania,

National Parks in Romania Are under Seige. The Situation Has Gotten Out of Control.

  • Environmental protection and conservation efforts are being overridden by forest exploitation, which is massively commercialized for the benefit of large private firms. This comes at the cost of depriving local communities of minimal wood utilization, even to the extent that they are lacking firewood as a sustainable heating resource.
  • Exploitation has extended into virgin forests, in old-growth forests and forests with a naturally-occurring structure, located within the National Parks.{de verificat daca “forests with naturally-occuring structure” e termenul potrivit}[1]
  • In Romania, National Parks are not being monitored according to scientific international recommendations (IUCN, Internation Union for Conservation of Nature) – neither in the core areas which should be strictly protected against human intervention (yet are smaller and dispersed), nor in buffer areas zones (where massive exploitation is currently being undertaken commercially at a large scale).{Te referi aici la categoriile Strict Nature Reserve vs Natural Parks din IUCN, sau mai degraba din Biosphere Reserve din MAB?}[2]

The Carpathian Mountains in Romania are, at the moment, in a worse state than before becoming legitimised as National Parks. Existing management plans for these National Parks are, in effect, plans of exploitation that aim systemic degradation of otherwise intact forest ecosystems. On the other hand, across forests that are not yet the purview of approved management plans, total chaos prevails. Of note, massive deforestation is ongoing even in Biosphere Reserves within National Parks.  {de verificat daca rezervatii naturale sunt echivalentele Biosphere Reserves UNESCO}[3]

Across Romania, there are fewer and fewer forests that have reached the maturity age that isappropriate for exploitation. In the meanwhile, a great pressure has also been felt in National Forests. This situation has been worsened by inefficient governing, as well as the development of large timber manufacturers with processing capabilities that exceed the annual potential of sustainable exploitation in Romania.  Although the National Parks forests encompass only 1% of the Romanian surface area, half of them are under a regime of commercial exploitation just like that in production forests (allowing even seed tree harvesting)  {de verificat daca “taieri progresive” inseamna seed tree harvesting, shelterwood sau clearcutting sau alt termen}[4]

Only 1 of the 13 Romanian National Parks follows the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) guideline to establish core protected areas (without human intervention) that span at least 75% of the total surface area.

Internal zoning of the Parks has been done according to political, rather than scientific, criteria.

The current internal zoning of the National Parks is chaotic; there are no buffer zones around the parks, which would protect them. The existing buffer zones are located inside the parks and are larger than the strictly protected areas, which in turn are often located at the edge of the parks. Zones that are extremely valuable for science and conservation of biodiversity have either degraded or are on the verge of being permanently lost, because they have not been included in protection zones within the National Parks. The so-called buffer zones (denominated, within Romanian legislation, to be conservation or sustainable development zones) inside National Parks are systematically exploited through an extremely aggressive harvesting regime.

Harvesting is being undertaken even in virgin forests, old-growth forests or forests with a naturally-developed structure, that could have been included in the strict or integralprotection zones, ever since the official establishment of these National Parks or since the approval of the most recent management plans. {de verificat daca “lucrari silvice” = “harvesting” in contextul asta; de verificat traducerea zonelor integrale protejate?}[5]

In Romania, numerous areas still exist that should already have been designated as National Parks, based on scientific criteria (for example, the Țarcu Mountains or the Făgăraș Mountains). However, these are not even given consideration, such that scientifically-based projects – although approved by the Romanian Academy – remain rejected on political grounds by your predecessors.

Dear Minister Gavrilescu and Prime-Minister Dăncilă,the National Parks are gifts that we have received from previous generations. These entail the natural legacy of Romania and constitute an inheritance that we have the responsibility to leave for future generations. The National Parks are carbon reserves, gene banks and fresh-air laboratories, where scientists, geologists and silviculture professionals may study the natural processes of forest ecosystems and their sustaining backbone. The endangerment of habitats, climate change and other threats make these National Parks the last stable refuge for the survival of thousands of species of flora and fauna (many of which are endemic).

You have the chance to be historically remembered as the destroyers of National Parks or, instead, to be celebrated by future generations as the leaders that saved them atthe last moment.

I ask you to:

  • Urgently adopt the legal framework to make the national legislation in line with the guidelines of IUCN (e.g. implement core areas of non-intervention management on at least 75% of Park surface area; forbid forest exploitation in buffer zones, excepting ecological reconstruction efforts)
  • Take over the unitary administration of all National Parks by the State within the purviewof ANANP (the National Agency for Protected National Areas)
  • Fund the administration of National Parks and compensate private owners of properties within the National Park, through the Romanian State budget
  • Restructure the National Park based on scientific criteria and include all the Parks’virgin forests, old-growth forests and forests with natural structures into zones of non-intervention management
  • Establish new National Parks (e.g. in the Țarcu and the Făgăraș Mountains)
  • Develop an integrated national strategy of ecotourism to ensure the conservation of National Parks and to providesupport for local communities.

Thank you.

Sign Here (Romanian Language)