Announced yesterday by the Minister of the Environment, Waters and Forests as a temporary solution to ensure the heating of the population this winter, the price caps on firewood and other wood products used for heating will not have any effect.

The price of timber is determined either by auction or by market mechanisms. And because Romania’s imports have increased a lot, we are talking about a global market, which cannot be regulated by local administrative measures.

Regarding the price of firewood, RNP Romsilva has already announced average prices of 214 lei/cu.m., well below the cap of 500 lei/cu.m. that is circulated by sources. Capping this price would have no effect.

The pellet market has always been affected by the low supply from local production pit against a constantly growing demand. The closure earlier this year of HS Timber’s Rădăuți production capacity further threw it off balance. Thus, prices increased from approx. 1,000 lei/ton two years ago to 2,200 lei/ton last year and currently exceed 3,700 lei/ton at retailers. Because pellet imports used to come mainly from Russia and Ukraine, now they have to come from the US, which will further escalate these enormous prices.

It is a widespread resource crisis, further complicated by the energy crisis that risks worsening in the cold season.

The cause of this resource crisis comes simply from the lack of timber on the market because the harvesting works are blocked by administrative and bureaucratic measures in all directions. If we understand and accept this simple fact, the solutions that the Romanian Wood Industry Association – Prolemn proposes to the authorities follow logically.

  1. RNP Romsilva has announced a very low harvested volume this year – 5.5 million cu.m. in the first eight months of 2022, compared to 10 million cu.m. during the entire year 2021. The reason is the administrative reservation of 50% of the timber resource of Romsilva for harvesting under its own regime. The obvious solution is to auction larger volumes of wood on stump, to be harvested by other companies in the sector, and to provide the needed resource to the population and industry.
  2. The procedures for the environmental assessment of forestry management plans, which AIL – Prolemn has been talking about for two years already, currently block at least 10-12% of the country’s forests in the sense that harvesting cannot be carried out. The solution would be to simplify these procedures according to models successfully applied in other EU countries: with the preservation of the environmental value of the respective forests intact, simultaneously with the fruition of their production functions.
  3. Excessive bureaucracy for small forest owners currently prevents the harvesting of timber from 800,000 ha of forestry fund and 500,000 ha outside the forestry fund. Last year, only 729,000 cubic meters were harvested from these 1.3 million ha, less than 4% of the total volume harvested in Romania from almost 20% of the forest area! The solution is to adapt the SUMAL 2.0 system to the provisions of the Forestry Code, namely of introducing differentiated procedures for harvesting wood intended for the forest owners’ own consumption.

We cannot overcome this impasse without mobilizing an increased volume of timber, that would keep the price of wood used for heating at an acceptable level without threatening wood-based industries with extinction due to lack of resources. Romania’s forests have a healthy growth, of approximately 58 million cubic meters per year, according to the National Forest Inventory data. With a wood harvest below 20 million cubic meters annually, the population will suffer from the cold and wood-based industries will be doomed.