The tale of Holzindustrie and and the massive loss of virgin forests in Romania

An illegally deforested mountain in Pojarna Valley in the Romanian Carpathian Mountains on January 16, 2014 Photo by Daniel Mihailescu/AFP

Romania is home to Europe’s largest areas of pristine forest. For how long, we’re wondering. An old Romanian saying goes like this: “the forest is so dense, it’s falling on us”. Well, not anymore.

In 2002 Holzindustrie Schweighofer, an Austrian company, opened its first wood processing factory in Romania. It was followed by another one in Radauti in 2007, Siret in 2009, Comanesti in 2012 and one in Reci, planned for later this year.

If you take a stroll through the magical forest of Bucovina, Maramures or Transylvania, you will find yourself wondering: uhmm, where’s the wood, where are the trees our ancestors loved and fought for. We’ll tell you where! 3 million m³ a year is being processed in the Holzindustrie’s plants. Most of it leaves Romania, being shipped to countries like Italy, France, Spain, Germany and the UK.

Nearly 45ha of forest is being harvested in Romania every day. Most of it, illegally.

Who’s buying it then, if it doesn’t have the legally binding documents? No one else but Holzindustrie Schweighofer. An investigation made by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), an environmental organisation with offices in Washington D.C. and London exposes officials of the company accepting, knowingly, illegally harvested Romanian wood.

Their greed knows no limit. They will accept wood cut in the Retezat National Park , as we can see from the investigation made by Agent Green.

How far will they go? The answer was given by the company officials. They want to have a monopoly. When the Parliament approved the new Forest Law, which aimed to protect the woods and to prevent a monopoly in the wood processing industry by setting a limit of 30 % of the market, the heads the company wrote a letter to the Prime Minister threatening to drag Romania to court and to lay off all the company’s employees.

Which brings us to another issue. Holzindustrie Schweighofer employs a bit over 2500 people. However, by taking so much of the market they’ve lost the Romanians more than 20.000 jobs sustained by small and medium companies. Family businesses ruined, communities destroyed.

When will they stop? When there will be nothing more to cut. That is, if they’re having it their way. But we’re proud to say Romanians started to take action. NGOs and the civil society have started campaigning against the company and their policies.

Vielen Dank, Herr Schweighofer. We had enough!

On the 9th of May a creative action will take place outside the Austrian embassy to raise awareness about the damage done by Holzindustrie Schweighofer in Romania. More details here.

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