Romania's 'occupy forests' movement demands clampdown on corporate crime
Publisher: The Ecologist
Date Written: 21/08/2015
Year Published: 2015
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX17883
A growing protest movement is demanding strong controls on international investors and logging companies buying up Romania's forests. In its sights is Austria-based Schweighofer, which stands accused of criminal malpractice and accepting illegal timber shipments. The popular outrage stirred up by corporate misdeeds is now stimulating a wider democratic revival.
According to an audit report created by the Romanian Court of Auditors, between 1990 and 2011, over 80 million cubic meters of forests were illegally cut and sold, producing damages of over $5 billion for the Romanian state. In 2014 alone, the National Forest Inventory indicated that around 9 million cubic meters of forest were illegally exploited.
After decades of silence, on 9th and 16th May as well as 5th June, hundreds of thousands of Romanians reaffirmed their ancestral connection with the forest, by taking to the streets of cities across Romania to protest against the country's astonishing illegal logging and demand the adoption of better legislation than the proposed new Romanian Forestry Code.
The Romanian protesters are resolute in their fight to demonstrate their ancestral bond to forests and continue challenging the content of the Forestry Law. Their movement has only just begun. This will be the third time in three years that Romanians initiate a substantial long-term non-violent protest against one of their government's policies or initiatives.
The first two were a protest movement against a Canadian-led cyanide-based gold mining project and fracking. Therefore, all were environmental initiatives intended to prevent or end a practice seen as harmful, indicating a majority of the Romanian public's commitment to their country's sustainable development, built around preserving and responsibly utilizing their country's natural riches.
At the same time, the three protest movements were not only able to influence political decisions, but also to further an on-going debate within the society regarding the rapport between politicians and the Romanian citizens and the latter's ability to demand and exert change in their country.
By doing this, they are rapidly transforming Romania from a communist and post-communist society to one of the most viable democracies in Eastern Europe and the European Union in general.