Romanians protest over illegal logging and murders

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A group of protesters holding signsImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Protesters chanted "our forest is not your commodity"

Thousands of Romanians have marched in the capital Bucharest and other cities to protest against illegal logging.

They demanded action over the recent killings of two forest workers who intervened to try and stop trees being illegally felled.

About 4,000 joined Sunday's march in Bucharest, many of them wearing green.

Romania is home to the largest remaining virgin forests in Europe and demonstrators also called for stricter laws.

The recent murders and dozens of attacks each year against other forest rangers has moved the problem of excess logging up the political agenda, says the BBC's Nick Thorpe in Bucharest.

The protests were organised by Greenpeace Romania, which has warned the country loses between three and nine hectares of forest per hour, partly due to illegal logging.

At least six forest rangers have been killed in Romania in recent years.

Most recently, Liviu Pop was shot and killed on 16 October, after responding to a tip-off about illegal logging. He left behind a partner and three children.

A month earlier, the body of Raducu Gorcioaia, 50, was found near an illegal logging site in Pascani. He suffered serious head injuries, reportedly caused by an axe.

Police are still investigating both deaths.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
There is anger that the country's forests are being over-exploited

Romania's forests are among the oldest in Europe, and are home to valuable ecosystems. Timber from the forest is stolen to make furniture, paper or building materials.

Spruce forests in the north and east of Romania, and beech forests in the south, have been the hardest hit by logging.

Three non-governmental organisations - Agent Green, ClientEarth and EuroNatur - have filed a complaint to the European Commission against the Romanian government.

The organisations claim Romania's logging practices are not in line with EU laws on nature protection, and amount to the "deliberate destruction of natural woodlands making up two-thirds of unspoilt forests within the European Union".

Media caption,

Why one of Europe's last great beech forests is facing the chop.