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ASFOR reacts to Gov't plans to halt wood exploitation activities during emergency period

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cascada, natură, apă, pădure

Forest exploitation ensures the woodlands' health and regeneration, the financing of the forest guarding and management services, the necessary wood resources for the furniture and construction industry, as well as the firewood for the population, argue the representatives of the Romanian Wood Industry Companies Association (ASFOR) in an open letter to the government.

Explaining that they have learned of the recent statements of Minister of Environment, Water and Forestry Costel Alexe that he is considering stopping exploitation activities during the state of emergency, the ASFOR representatives argue that "the exploitation of forests is not a whim of a particular social category in Romania," but an activity with multiple economic, social and environmental implications.

"To stop the wood harvesting activity today is tantamount to disconnecting a patient from life-saving machines. In the first place, this activity ensures the sanitary security of the forests, their regeneration, the financing of the forest guarding and management services, provides the wood resources for the furniture industry, for panels, constructions, as well as firewood for the population.

Wood is the only renewable natural resource which, if managed properly and responsibly, can replace concrete, iron, oil, plastic, and even certain agricultural products, the ASFOR representatives said in the document, and went on to argue that "the immediate effect of any brutal, reckless and ungrounded intervention will be the state's inability to ensure the protection of forests and the minimum forestry works that maintain the health of the woodland."

"In figures, the economy of forestry and of the wood and furniture products means 3.5 percent of GDP, 2.8 billion euros worth of foreign currency input to the Romanian economy from exports, an incoming 1.9 billion euros to the trade balance, heat supply for two municipalities (Suceava and Vatra Dornei), firewood for about 3.5 million households, managing a forest area that accounts for 29 percent of the country's surface or 30 percent of Romania's rural area," the document mentions.

ASFOR representatives consider that "leaving without funding and without administration 29 percent of the country's surface is not a measure fit for the support of the Romanian state."

"If we talk about emergencies in the short term, for three months from now, a priority should be harvesting and shipping off from the forest about 1.7 million cubic meters of wind-thrown wood, which could produce an infestation of the healthy forest, similar to those in western Europe. Under these circumstances, talking about stopping wood harvesting activities is inappropriate," the statement said.

ASFOR representatives consider that a coherent strategy needs to be developed for the next ten years, providing for investments in infrastructure, warehouses, modern machines for an environmentally-friendly exploitation of forests, as well as financing for equipping the managers with modern devices for wood inventory, measurement and forest stock supervision.

ASFOR representatives also point out that the forest management system should be re-designed, as management activities should be separated from wood harvesting and trading activities, and that programs similar to European ones should be implemented to encourage the construction of wooden passive energy houses and the use of highly efficient heating systems.

The Romanian Wood Industry Companies Association provides technical assistance and legal advice to its members to help mitigate the effects of any action that may harm the companies' activity. AGERPRES

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