FOREST: WWF campaign helps save virgin forests in Romania
An IKEA supported WWF campaign aimed at getting the Romanian government to protect the country’s virgin forests has paid off. The 2011 campaign generated around 2.000 newspaper articles and more than 100.000 people signed a petition to get the attention of the Ministry of Environment. Now, a ministerial order is about to be signed, guaranteeing protection for 13,000 species in virgin forests and proving that ordinary people can make a difference.
In October 2011, WWF asked 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. A couple of months later WWF Romania and the Ministry of Environment and Forests signed an agreement that virgin forests in Romania would receive protection and that the ministry would work with WWF to identify, map and protect virgin forests. Since then, four meetings have taken place, bringing together WWF, government representatives and other stakeholders.
Over the past few decades, large areas of virgin forests have disappeared from the developed world, mostly due to poor forest management. Romania’s 200.000 hectares of virgin forests represent up to 65 percent of the virgin forests still remaining in Europe outside of Russia. Their scientific, educational, and ecological value is undisputed.
Romania’s virgin forests have survived mainly because of their inaccessibility and the low economic value of wood from the old trees. However, socio-economic pressures leading to increasing demand for wood are making these forests more vulnerable than ever.