WWF acts to save Europe’s last remaining virgin forests
The Carpathian Mountains are home to a total of 322,000 hectares of virgin forests, with the vast majority being in Romania. Today virgin forests make up less than 3 per cent of total forest area in Romania.
“Saving all our forests and their unrivalled biodiversity is our mission, but the pinnacle of this mission is the protection of our virgin forests”, said Magor Csibi, Country Manager of WWF’s Danube-Carpathian Programme in Romania. “We will never be able to rebuild this part of nature. Once lost, it is lost forever. Considering that we are among the last European nations fortunate enough to have such a treasure, it is our moral obligation to preserve this piece of nature intact and to leave a small piece of wilderness to our children”.
The last places where nature survives in its purest state
Virgin or old growth forests are untouched by humans, the last places where nature survives in its purest state. Their scientific, educational and ecological value is undisputed. They are wonderful, complex systems where seedlings, young, mature and old trees are interspersed. Dead trees and decaying logs are just as important as the living trees, building up together an environment that is home for many different plants and animals. Romania’s virgin forests are home to up to 13,000 species.
Romania’s virgin forests represent up to 65 per cent of the virgin forests still remaining in Europe, outside of Russia. They are an important part of Europe’s natural patrimony, and their demise was mostly due to bad management.
These forests have survived in Romania because of their inaccessibility and the low economic value of the wood coming from the old trees. However, today virgin forests are more vulnerable than ever because of socio-economic pressures in Romania. These include the ever increasing demand for wood and the need to manage small patches of forests in a way that makes good business sense.
WWF’s Petition to save virgin forests
To save virgin forests, total protection is needed.
In a letter to the Ministry of Environment and Forests in Romania, WWF is asking for urgent measures for the effective protection of the country’s remaining virgin forests and changes to the legislative framework to guarantee their protection as well as compensatory funds for private forest owners.
An awareness raising campaign telling the story of virgin forests also has been launched in Romania. A petition asking the Ministry of Environment and Forests to take urgent measures to protect virgin forests can be signed on the campaign website (in Romanian).
“We expect our initiative to be supported not only by people who wish for a sustainable future, but especially by the authorities who can decide whether to solve this problem or not. I believe that we can obtain 100 per cent protection of our virgin forests”, said Csibi.
The campaign is taking place with the support of WWF corporate partners IKEA and Lafarge, together with media partners Antena 3, Europa FM, Discovery Channel and Think Outside the Box. The technical component of the campaign has been designed by WWF experts and by the Forests Research and Management Institute, Romania.
International Year of Forests
2011 is the International Year of Forests and WWF’s Living Forests Report is part of a year‑long conversation with partners, policymakers, and business about how to protect, conserve, sustainably use, and govern the world’s forests in the 21st century. View the video below and find out more about the report here.