European Commission starts to protect European nature and Wilderness!

More and more bad news are coming from Balkan countries. Illegal logging in Romanian part of Carpathian Mountains seems to be is far beyond our imagination. Failure to protect birds in the Bulgarian national parks captivate even attention of European Commission. And last but not least the UNESCO World Heritage Committee just expressed concern over three sites in this part of Europe.

Too many bears hunted! Stop forest degradation in Romania! Illegal logging is out of the control! World Heritage meeting reveals emerging threats to Pirin and other European sites in Bulgaria!

These are news headlines  coming from these two European countries in the last 2-3 months. Countries which  until recently  were considered to be a kingdom of European Wilderness. Countries considered to be the wild part of Europe.

It seems that something is going wrong. Membership in European union seems to have brought a lot of advantages for people, economy and fast development but not so much for nature, biodiversity and Wilderness!

So what is wrong? That several of very first European certified Wilderness areas are coming exactly from these two countries: Romania and Bulgaria. It is estimated that almost 120.000 of the original 360.000 primeval beech forests were logged during the last 10 years, lost forever and turned into wood chips. We informed you about the many reports on supposedly illegal logging in Romania and Ukraine and the lack of actions to prevent this.

Even more alarming is the information that even the globally well-known network of protected areas, the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, is not strong enough to protect global natural and Wilderness heritage.

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee just recently expressed concern over three sites inBulgaria and Romania facing severe pressures from harmful industrial activities, but failed to take bold action to protect them. At the meeting, the World Heritage committee considered a Bulgarian site at risk from both encroachment by ski resorts and increased industrial-scale logging. For example, nearly 60 per cent of the Pirin National Park could be opened to logging through a new government plan, announce WWF in their Report.

We are very glad that the European Commission, is taking Bulgaria to the Court of Justice of the EU over its failure to protect unique habitats and important bird species in the Rila Mountains. Hopefully it will also take actions against the illegal and legal logging of primeval beech forest all across Eastern Europe.

In addition, we would like to remind our fellow Wilderness advocates that the polish  forest service is also in the process of logging and therefore threathing the most iconic pine, oak, spruce, and beech forest in Europe, Białowieża and its surrounding Forests.

In these countries something is really going wrong when it comes to nature protection.

We will publish next week a 32 page special report on the logging in Romania,

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2 thoughts on “European Commission starts to protect European nature and Wilderness!

  1. Hi Jörg,

    thanx for the notices that we were a imprecise. We modified the text to now include: “…therefore threathing the most iconic pine, oak, spruce, and beech forest in Europe, Białowieża and its surrounding Forests….”

    The main issue is the most of this logging is done under a commercial license, as if commercial logging makes it any better 🙁

  2. Hello,

    please note that there is no beech in the Bialowieza primeval forest. It is located beyond the Eastern distribution limit of Fagus sylvatica.

    Kind regards,
    Jörg Brunet
    Professor in forest ecology at SLU, Sweden

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Sign the Petition for resilient forests


90 signatures

Open Letter to the German Ministry of Food and Agriculture

Federal Ministry of
Food and Agriculture
Minister Julia Klöckner
11055 Berlin

Dear Minister Klöckner,

The current situation of the forest in Germany is worrying. It is a forest crisis not only driven by climate change. The current crisis management of the forestry industry is backward-looking and harmful to the forest. The declaration announced at the meeting of ministers in Moritzburg can be described as a `Moritzburg declaration of bankruptcy´. We call on the state forestry industry to, instead of expensive rushed actions, finally carry out an expert analysis of its own work and to involve all stakeholders in this process. What is called for is a consistent departure from plantation forestry and a radical shift towards a management that treats the forest as an ecosystem and no longer as a wood factory.

On 1stAugust 2019, five forestry ministers of CDU and CSU-led states adopted a so-called “master plan” for the forest in Germany, which was affected by heat, bark beetles, fire and drought. As of 2020, the federal government is to make 800 million euros available as a reaction to climate change. This money is to be used to repair the damage caused, reforest the damaged areas and carry out `climate-adapted´ forest conversion – including the use of non-native tree species that have not yet been cultivated in the forest. Research should therefore focus on on tree species suitability and forest plant breeding in the future – keyword: `Climate-adapted forest of the future 2100´.

Remarkably, the damage caused primarily by the extreme drought of 2018 is attributed solely to climate change. Climate change is meeting a forest that is systemically ill due to the planting of non-native tree species, species poverty, monocultures, uniform structure, average low age, mechanical soil compaction, drainage etc. A healthy, resistant forest would look differently! The master plan emphasizes: sustainable, multifunctional and `active´ forest management remains indispensable – and thereby means that its unnatural state cannot be changed. Reference is made to the `carbon storage and substitution effects´ of wood products. The use of wood, e.g. in the construction industry, should be increased and thus the demand for wood should be further fueled – while knowing that the forest in Germany already cannot meet this demand. In fact, forest owners are suffering from poor timber prices due to an oversupply of trunk wood on the world market.

All these demands make clear: the current forestry strategy, which has been practiced for decades, should not change in principle. The concept is simple: cut down trees – plant trees. At best, the `design´ of the future artificial forests consisting of perfectly calculated tree species mixtures, that are believed to survive climate change without damages, can be changed. In all seriousness, the intention is to continue selling the public a so-called `future strategy´ to save the forest. This strategy seamlessly follows the model of a wood factory, that is met with general rejection and must be regarded as a failure in view of the coniferous plantations that are currently collapsing on a large scale. An essential part of the forests that have currently died is exactly the part that was reestablished in 1947 as coniferous monocultures on a much larger area than today. There is only one difference to the situation at the time: considerable amounts of money are to be made available from taxes for forest owners this time.

Climate change is progressing, and this, without a doubt, has massive impacts on all terrestrial ecosystems, including forests. To pretend that the last two years of drought alone caused the disaster is too cheap. On closer inspection, the disaster is also the result of decades of a forestry focused on conifers – in a country that was once naturally dominated by mixed deciduous forests. People do not like to admit that for more than 200 years they have relied on the wrong species of commercial tree (spruce) and have also created artificial, ecologically highly unstable and thus high-risk forest ecosystems. A whole branch of business has become dependent on coniferous wood. And now the German coniferous timber industry is on the verge of bankruptcy.

It would only have been honest and also a sign of political greatness if you and the forestry ministers in Moritzburg had declared: Yes, our forestry industry has made mistakes in the past, and yes, we are ready for a relentless analysis that takes into account not only purely silvicultural, but also forest-ecological aspects. Instead, you have confined yourselves to pre-stamped excuses that are already familiar to everyone and that lack any self-critical reflection.

Clear is: We finally need resting periods for the forest in Germany, which has been exploited for centuries. We need a new, ecologically oriented concept for future forest – not a hectic `forest conversion´, but simply forest development closer towards nature. This gives the forest as an ecosystem the necessary leeway to self-regulate and react to the emerging environmental changes. We need a systemic forest management that is no less profitable than the present one, but must be substantially more stable and resistant to foreseeable environmental changes. The aid for forest owners that all citizens are now required to pay through their taxes is only politically justified in the interest of common good, if the forests of the future that are being promoted by it, do not end up in the next disaster, some of which is produced by the forest management itself.

That is why the signatories request from the the Federal Government, and in particular you, Mrs Klöckner, a master plan worthy of the name:

On disaster areas (mainly in public forests!) reestablishment through natural forest development (ecological succession), among other things with pioneer tree species, is to be brought about. In private forests, ecological succession for reestablishment must be purposefully promoted. Larger bare areas should be planted with a maximum of 400 to 600 large plants of native species per hectare in order to permit ecological succession parallelly.
To promote ecological succession, the areas should no longer be completely and mechanically cleared; as much wood as possible should be left in the stand (to promote optimum soil and germ bed formation, soil moisture storage and natural protection against browsing). In private forests, the abandonment of use in disaster areas should be specifically promoted for ecological reasons and in order to relieve the burden on the timber market.

Regarding the promotion of reestablishment plantings in private forests: priority for native tree species (of regional origin); choose wide planting distances in order to leave enough space for the development of pioneer species. For the forests of the future: Minimize thinning (low-input principle), build up stocks through targeted development towards old thick trees, protect the inner forest climate / promote self-cooling function (should have highest priority due to rapidly progressing climate change!), prohibit heavy machinery, refrain from further road construction and expansion, permit and promote natural self-regulatory development processes in the cultivated forest and on (larger) separate areas in the sense of an compound system; drastically reduce the density of ungulate game (reform of hunting laws).

Like in the field of organic agriculture, which has been established since the 1980s, the crisis of our forests should be the reason today to transform at least two existing forestry-related universities. They should be turned into universities for interdisciplinary forest ecosystem management. This is a contribution not only to the further development of forestry science and silviculture in Germany, but also of global importance! The goal must be to produce wood through largely natural forest production and to start with it here in Germany, the birthplace of forestry.


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