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Romanian Ancient Woodland Needs Protection

By Dave Collier - 27 Oct 2011 16:42:12 GMT
Romanian Ancient Woodland Needs Protection

Romania's Virgin Forests; © Mircea Struteanu

The Carpathian Mountains make up the second largest mountain range in Europe, spreading approximately 1500 kilometres from the Czech Republic to Romania. Although the name means "Rocky Mountains" the range is not short of forested land and it is this wooded environment that WWF have launched a campaign to protect.

Not including Russia, Romania contains up to 65% of Europe's virgin forests. Due to economic and social pressures, this natural resource may be under threat with 150 square kilometres of European old-growth forest cleared every year. Virgin forests contain a continuity and diversity of life that is difficult to find in timber forests and as Magor Csibi from WWF's Danube-Carpathian Programme explains, "We will never be able to rebuild this part of nature. Once lost, it is lost forever." British ancient woodland (over 10 acres) is limited to one copse on the Isle of Wight.

The value of woodland such as this goes beyond the direct value of the timber. They provide regeneration of soils, filtration of water, generation of oxygen and, very importantly, sequestration of carbon. The release of carbon previously stored in organic forms for centuries will have an impact on the world's climate and severely damage international attempts to reduce carbon emissions.

The value of woodland such as this goes beyond the direct value of the timber. They provide regeneration of soils, filtration of water, generation of oxygen and, very importantly, sequestration of carbon.

Virgin Forest; © Mircea Struteanu

WWF are looking for protection for 80% of the old-growth forests in Romania to conserve the habitat for up to 13,000 different species of plants and animals. They are asking the Romanian government to ensure the safety of this land through legislation, to protect the forests, and compensation, to assist forest owners where legislation has harmed their income. They have also launched a website and created a petition to encourage Romanian citizens to demand these changes. The campaign has the support of many international companies including IKEA and the Discovery Channel with international and national drives helping to reinforce the message for the Romanian government.

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Topics: Deforestation