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March against illegal and abusive deforestation in Bucharest March against illegal and abusive deforestation in Bucharest  (ANSA)

Romania sees massive anti-logging protests after killings

A tense calm has returned to Romania's capital Bucharest and other cities where thousands have protested against illegal logging for the timber trade. The rallies come after several forest rangers were killed while trying to protect one of Europe's oldest forests.

By Stefan J. Bos

Up to 4,000 Romanians expressed their outrage in Bucharest and elsewhere, demanding action over the recent killings of two forest workers. Both men who tried to stop trees being illegally felled off what is one of Europe's oldest forests.

Most recently, Liviu Pop was shot and killed on October 16 after responding to a tip-off about illegal logging. He left behind a partner and three children.

A month earlier, the body of Raducu Gorcioaia, who was just 50, was found near an illegal logging site in Pascani. He suffered severe head injuries, reportedly caused by an ax.

Police are still investigating both deaths. They aren't alone: At least six forest rangers have been killed in Romania in recent years. Protesters, many wearing green jackets, are furious that this former Communist nation has still outdated laws.

And activists fear that the felling of trees in the forests of Romania is part of a wider hormone of the World' World' losing the battle against deforestation''.

Activists demanding action

Three non-governmental organizations - Agent Green, ClientEarth and EuroNatur - have filed a complaint to the European Union's executive European Commission, against the Romanian government.

The groups claim Romania's logging practices are not in line with EU laws on nature protection. The activists say authorities allow the "deliberate destruction of natural woodlands, making up two-thirds of unspoiled forests within the EU.

But it's not easy to end the practice amid a thriving timber trade. Timber from Romania's ancient forests is stolen to make furniture, paper, or building materials.

Officials say that forests in the north and east of Romania, and beech forests in the south, have been the hardest hit by logging.

Other Eastern European nations such as Poland have also come under pressure to halt illegal logging. But it remains unclear whether the latest protests or even EU actions will end the practice any time soon.

Listen to the report by Stefan Bos
05 November 2019, 17:51