The clearcutting of forests in the last 20 years in the area of Rucăr, Argeș County, together with climate change are the two main reasons for the natural disaster (flooding and landslides) we have witnessed in recent days.
The torrential rains on Friday, July 5th, showed us the direct consequences of the forestry activities carried out in the last 15 years and the victims of this unfortunate event are the local people and tourists.
Conservation Carpathia has triggered numerous alarm signals regarding the potential consequences of the irresponsible forest activity in the area. In the current context, we have offered our support to the local authorities and the community of Rucăr, by helping to solve as quickly as possible the problems caused by the flood, using the two the excavators we own. Also, after assessing the damage caused to the houses in the area, we have expressed our intention to help the five affected families with construction wood.
The causes of the natural disaster in Rucăr
Between 2004-2011, in the upper Dâmboviţa Valley, non-compliant forest clear cuts led to the disappearance of forests situated on more than 1,500 hectares of forest land. Near the village of Rucăr, almost 500 hectares of forests have been affected by non-compliant cuts in the past. We have notified the authorities about these issues on numerous occasions since 2010. The situation and the annual evolution of the cuts in the area can be seen on Google Earth maps (https://bit.ly/2LGbzMd).
Non-compliant cuts threatening the safety of people’s lives
The forest plays an important role in ensuring the essential necessities of life, but also in ensuring the safety and security of local communities in their immediate vicinity. Here we talk about the ecosystem services: all that the forests do to ensure the life as we know it – filtering clean water, carbon storage, fixing the soil, protection in the face of flooding. By irresponsible cutting and lacking a medium and long-term plan to restore forests, we risk becoming vulnerable to the extreme natural phenomena that are increasingly present in our daily lives. Any such action can be considered an attack on people’s safety and integrity, and the authorities should take this into account.
Existing solutions are sustainable forest management and ecological restoration of destroyed areas
We have continuously promoted and supported both sustainable forest management based on the conservation of existing natural resources and their responsible exploitation, as well as the designation of areas where forests are protected for the benefit of all, people and nature alike. However, in certain areas that are sufficiently large and accessible, the forest resources can be exploited sustainably.
“Being aware of the danger generated by large clear cuts, where the forest recovers at a low rate and which often become intensively grazed areas contrary to the law, and also due to the trend generated by climate change, we have initiated the restoration of over 700 hectares of affected forests,” said Mihai Zotta, technical director, Foundation Conservation Carpathia. “600 hectares of the 700 ha mentioned are within the administrative territory of Rucăr commune. Our main goal is the restoration of natural forests to maximize their protective functions: clean air, clean and constant water, moderate climate and all the other benefits that the residents of Rucăr would enjoy first and foremost, together with their guests: Romanian and foreign tourists who will bring the necessary well-being to the area. However, it will take at least 8-10 years until the new forests begin to fulfil their beneficial role and almost 100 years until they reach maturity.”
Over the last 9 years, the aggressive cuts have slowed down, but this is not enough. We cannot ignore the phenomena associated with climate change, and forest management must become truly sustainable.
As a forest owner, the foundation has initiated in the surrounding areas a sustainable forest management practice to ensure firewood at a subsidized price to the members of the community. Maintaining uncluttered forest cores ensures that other owners can sustainably exploit their forests without destabilizing the entire area.