For thousands of years, Romania’s forests have played a central role in shaping its dramatic history. Over the centuries, large swathes of this precious ecosystem have made way for empires, outlived regimes and helped ward off invasion. But today, the country’s rich and ancient forests are in peril. Since joining the European Union in 2007, Romania has seen its forest cover depleted at record levels. An extensive criminal network, supplying large corporations, has been allowed to penetrate deep into some of the country’s most precious old-growth forests and exploit them for vast profits. Rangers and environmentalists who investigate and document these crimes face violence, intimidation and even murder, as the stakes for this multi-billion dollar industry are raised. Gabriel Paun of Agent Green, one of the leading non-profit organizations monitoring illegal logging in Romania, has been sounding the alarm for years. “2020 was a year like no other,” he says, as he taps open an app on his smartphone unveiling a map covered in red markers. “This app helps us track all the lorries carrying timber on Romania’s roads. It’s a busy day today,” he says. “This year we recorded the largest ever number of timber trucks on Romania’s roads since using this app”. New technology such as this has become one of the most effective ways for activists like Gabi to investigate and document environmental crimes. After years of relentless campaigning, the European Commission responded to the evidence gathered by Gabi and his colleagues by launching an infringement procedure…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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