Those who work to protect forests should not only have adequate legal protection, but also it needed to be enforced.
Campaigners have written to the Romanian government to condemn the killings of two forest rangers, and urged the government to dismantle the country’s network of timber mafia.
Forest ranger Liviu Pop was out investigating illegal logging in Maramures, in the northwestern region of the country, when he was shot dead.
His death came shortly after that of Raducu Gorcioaia, who was murdered in the forest district of Pascani earlier in October.
These deaths were “disturbing” in themselves, the letter states, but the fact that these rangers had to risk their personal safety to defend the country’s old-growth forests and when forest protections are already included in Romanian law was “unforgivable”.
The letter was signed by over 40 environmental groups from around the world and appealed directly to president Klaus Iohannis of Romania and the government for a thorough and unbiased investigation into the killings.
Those who work to protect forests should not only have adequate legal protection, but also it needed to be enforced, the letter said.
The government must also take action against the criminals who are responsible for illegal logging, they said.
366,000 hectares of Romanian forest was illegally logged between 1990 and 2011. In recent years there has been widespread logging even within Natura 4 2000 sites, which should be protected by EU law, the NGOs noted.
Last month, EuroNatur, Agent Green and ClientEarth filed a complaint against the Romanian government with the European Commission for illegal logging in Natura 2000 sites.
Catherine Early is a freelance environmental journalist and chief reporter for the Ecologist. She can be found tweeting at @Cat_Early76.