Bucharest, Warsaw, November 23rd, 2022 – Satellite datasets analysed by Greenpeace reveal loss of the Carpathian forests at an alarming rate. On average more than five football pitches of forest are lost to wood extraction every single hour. Logging takes place also in national parks and Natura 2000 areas and in many unprotected old-growth forests, according to the latest Greenpeace CEE report.
The report ‘The Carpathian forests: Our Natural heritage Under Attack’  is published ahead of the UN biodiversity summit COP15, where representatives of almost every nation are expected to come up with a new, ambitious pact to combat global loss of biodiversity . Despite ambitious rhetorics on biodiversity protection, in the past decade the EU has not met its targets set as a part of the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) in 2010, and on the current trajectory , it will not meet its 2030 Biodiversity targets.
A prime example of the problem is the faulty protection of the Carpathian mountains, by far the most precious biodiversity hotspot in Central Europe. Spreading over 1500 kilometres, crossing eight countries, the mountain range is longer than the Alps, nurturing biologically unique ecosystems. The Carpathians are Europe’s largest area covered by primary and old-growth forests outside Scandinavia and the Russian Taiga.
The report finds that aggressive logging is taking place in forests under different degrees of protection across the Carpathian Region. Over 7,350 km2 of Carpathian tree canopy have been lost to timber extraction in the last two decades. This area is twice larger than Paris, Berlin, Rome, Budapest, Brussels, and Warsaw combined. The remaining Carpathian forests store massive amounts of carbon, retain water, provide shelter and protection from floods, droughts, and other extreme weather impacts, especially on the local communities.
“Carpathians should be among the best-protected regions in Europe, but reality reveals a shocking opposite. So far, all protective measures, apart from strict reserves and non-intervention zones, have failed to stop the accelerated destruction of these priceless forests. Our calculations show that only 3 percent of the Carpathian forests are fully protected from logging and the construction of new roads. If the European Union truly wants to achieve its Biodiversity Strategy targets for the strict protection of 10 percent of lands and waters by 2030, it needs to start showing it with iconic natural heritage sites like the Carpathians, one of the last remaining bastions of wild nature”, says Robert Cyglicki, Program Director of Greenpeace CEE and one of the authors of the report.
The application of new technologies in forestry heavily altered the Carpathian forests, despite their rugged topography and less accessible terrain for logging. Even today, new forestry roads are built at an alarming scale to extract forest wood from areas that would otherwise not be accessible. It is opening wounds in the forest heart. At the current pace, almost 20 percent of the Carpathian canopy cover from 2000 will disappear before our eyes by 2050.
Greenpeace calls on the European Commission and national authorities to urgently develop a transnational action plan and ensure adequate EU funding for its implementation. An immediate ban of irresponsible logging in the Carpathian forests along with a 10-year moratorium on new forestry roads is needed to provide the time to implement the action plan.
“As nature knows no borders, we need to establish a transnational network of non-intervention and roadless areas to protect the Carpathians”, says dr hab. Nuria Selva from the Polish Academy of Sciences.
“We also urge companies to stop destroying Carpathian forests. Responsible logging excludes exploitation of old-growth forests and industrial practices leading to complete removal or significant degradation of key components of viable ecosystems. The natural world is in crisis – not only in Europe, but across the globe. We need to preserve places like the Carpathians and keep them healthy to protect us from severe climate change impacts. It is up to the European leaders to take the first steps and they need to be taken now. After all, we are all part of nature, and we cannot lose another decade in this battle. Our own future is at stake”, adds Cyglicki.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Robert Cyglicki, Program Director and International campaign lead, Greenpeace CEE
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Marija Tomac, International Comms Lead, Greenpeace CEE
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 ‘The Carpathian forests: Our Natural heritage Under Attack’ link to the full report
 Greenpeace CBD COP15 Policy Brief: Beyond 30×30 - Prerequisites for a new Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) nature protection target
 Failing nature - How life and biodiversity are destroyed in Europe, 2022 - Showcasing hotspots of nature loss across the continentGreenpeace report reveals how Europe destroys its own precious nature and biodiversity, especially by intensive animal farming and excessive forest cutting, usually for short-lived wood products like cardboard and wood burning.