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Romanians Rally Against Illegal Logging, Attacks On Forestry Officials

People march against widespread illegal logging and a lack of policy response in Bucharest on November 3.
People march against widespread illegal logging and a lack of policy response in Bucharest on November 3.

Thousands of Romanians across the country have marched in protest of pervasive illegal logging after several forestry officials, including two in the past two months, have died in what are believed to have been attacks by timber thieves.

An estimated 4,000 protesters assembled in the capital city of Bucharest on November 3, marching toward the Forestry Ministry while chanting "Our forest is not your commodity," and "Thieves."

Placards were seen that read, "Cut the greed, keep the forest!"

The local branch of Greenpeace and civil society and environmental groups Agent Green and Declic organized the peaceful protest they called The March for the Forests.

They demanded criminal investigations into the deaths and attacks against forestry agency officials, improvements to the country's automated logging tracking system, and stricter legislation.

Reuters cited the Silva labor union federation as saying that six forest workers had been killed in recent years, while another 650 were beaten, attacked with axes or knives or even shot after catching illegal loggers in the act.

Romania loses an estimated three to nine hectares of forest per hour due to illegal logging, according to Greenpeace.

In the absence of an upgraded government tracking system, "authorities and citizens are blind to an extremely serious phenomenon: that of massive illegal logging, which experts estimate between 9 and 20 million cubic meters of wood per year," Greenpeace said in an August report.

Romania has some of the oldest and most vital forests in Europe, some of which are virgin and filled with diverse wildlife.

Based on reporting by Al-Jazeera and Reuters

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