At the recent auctions for wood, prices hiked to absurd levels, 2.5 times higher than the average over the past few years. Administrative decisions taken without impact assessments caused the deepest crisis in recent years. The complete jam of the market will have catastrophic social and economic effects unless urgent measures are taken to unblock the application of forest management plans. Directly impacted are the people using firewood and the wood processing industry, which may have to close shop. More worrying is that no matter the prices, there won’t be enough wood on the market!

In all public debates regarding the environmental assessment of forest management plans (FMPs) – starting with the first from last autumn to the most recent, in September this year – the Environment Ministry failed to present information about the national situation, despite this is an important issue in the infringement procedure.

Two years after the infringement procedure was started, the Ministry decided, pressured by the European Commission, to kill the cat.

After two years of inaction, a decision was taken during the crisis: three Minister Orders were issued – numbers 1945 (change in the norms for management), 1946 (procedure for the environmental assessment of FMPs), and 1947 (procedure for revising environmental assessments).

During all the public debates, wood sector representatives asked the Ministry to make an impact assessment for the application of the orders, but the Minister never presented this assessment.

Finally, appealing to the law for access to public information, we got the figures that tell the story of the imminent blockage of the wood market. The answer from the Ministry and a detailed analysis is also available here (in Romanian).

Minim 70% din amenajamentele silvice din România riscă să fie complet blocate

În România sunt înregistrate în acest moment 4.478 de amenajamente silvice – planuri complexe, multianuale, de administrare a fondului forestier, care stipulează ce tipuri de lucrări silvice trebuie efectuate pe suprafețele respective.

Dintre acestea, în jur de 3.150 de amenajamente silvice „nu au parcurs/nu au finalizat procedura de evaluare de mediu.” Ambiguitatea din răspunsul Ministerului este amplificată de formulările diferite în cele trei OM menționate mai sus, astfel încât pentru 70% din amenajamentele silvice din fondul forestier național nu se știe în acest moment dacă sunt aplicabile sau nu, dacă trebuie revizuite sau nu.

Pe scurt, nu se știe dacă proprietarii vor putea sau nu să recolteze legal lemn de pe aceste suprafețe, pentru necesarul de lemn de foc sau pentru prelucrare industrială.

Dar situația nu este cu mult mai clară pentru restul amenajamentelor. Din restul de aproape 1.400 de amenajamente legal aprobate prin ordin de ministru (sau în curs de aprobare), aproximativ 70% urmează să fie restricționate pentru revizuirea evaluării de mediu, deoarece se suprapun parțial sau total cu arii naturale protejate de interes comunitar. Ministerul recunoaște că nu știe câte amenajamente se suprapun parțial sau total cu Situri Natura 2000, deși încă din 2010 toate amenajamentele au hărți în format digital GIS transmise către Minister în procedura de aprobare!

Din cele 306 amenajamente aflate în 2021 în procedură normală de reamenajare a pădurii, cu periodicitatea de 10 ani, doar 9 (nouă) amenajamente silvice din România au obținut în mod cert un aviz de mediu cu evaluare adecvată de mediu și raport de mediu. Toate celelalte vor intra în revizuire sau sunt blocate în aplicare complet.

Impactul economic și social este catastrofal. Prețurile pentru lemn de foc și materia primă pentru industrie au explodat. 3,5 milioane de gospodării care se încălzesc cu lemne și mii de companii care depind de lemnul românesc (cu zeci de mii de locuri de muncă) sunt efectiv condamnate.

At the main auctions, prices reached absurd levels, 2.5 times higher than the average in recent years. For softwood, prices in Europe are around 100 Euros/m3 for roundwood, at the mill’s gate. But in Romania, prices are 120-140 Euros/m3 on stump, in the forest; only about 65% on average will become roundwood! The prices are a sign of a profound crisis that the politicians must take seriously. Millions of people who use firewood for heating and the entire industry are waiting for real dialogue, effective solutions, applicable measures with impact assessments. If the artificial deficit continues, it will have serious social consequences in 2022. The Ministry is ignoring the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice: in the course of implementing an EU directive, such as the environmental assessment in our case, the corrections must be performed for the future and not impact economic activities. There is no retroactive application. It is not the EU directive which mandates the retroactive application, but the Ministry Orders themselves!

Cătălin Tobescu

Președinte, Asociația Industriei Lemnului - Prolemn

How do we mobilise the renewable resource in Romania’s forests?

Romania’s forests harbour huge resources of wood, which are accumulating year after year – Romanian forestry is built on sound and sustainable foundations. If in Europe the average stock of wood in the forests is 169 m3/ha, the National Forest Inventory recorded more than double in Romania’s forests: 340 m3/ha.

Because FMPs dictate whether and how much wood can be harvested from this renewable resource, blocking them means that we let wood to rot in the forest, we let people endure cold in their homes over the winter, and we let wood processing companies stop production and make redundancies if they cannot import the raw materials. We already receive worrying signals from the members of the Association.

We publicly ask the Ministry of the Environment, Waters and Forests to quickly analyse the causes of the blockage and to take urgent measures to eliminate them. The concrete proposals in the position paper from Prolemn and the Federation of Forest and Pastures Owners – Nostra Silva are a good starting point.

Forests and the use of the renewable wood resource at hand are the main topic of the debates during the Forum of the Forests, Wood Industry and Green Economy, which will take place on December 14. Representatives of the wood sector will attend, as well as people from connected industries and the academia. The opening for dialogue of our sector is paramount.