Beginning in April, the Moldova government’s forest management agency, Moldsilva, ceased main felling operations in 140 thousand hectares of oak forests while it reviews ways to improve leasing and sustainable forest management. The agency’s new director general made the decision to cease oak felling until the end of the year based on FLEG research, new findings of wood from dubious sources, and other information that shows current forest management systems are not doing enough to prevent the loss of Moldovan forests’ biological and economic potential.
“Illegal logging is still a huge problem. We have recently found wood from inexplicable sources and detected insufficient operational management in many Moldsilva forest units across the country. The recent practice of leasing forests went beyond its initial noble scope and oak forests are at risk because of poor management,” said Iurie Apostolachi, Director General of Moldsilva. “All these create unfavourable conditions for the forest sector to be sustainably managed, and most critical is that forests are losing their biological potential and ability to provide the population with goods and products.”
Moldsilva made the announcement on April 3, 2015 with FLEG II and the Moldova Forest Research and Management Institute at a press conference titled “National forestry sector: illegal logging, forest lease, and oak management.”
“Our 2010 analysis showed that the wood and other forest products Moldovans were using for various needs, mainly subsistence, far exceeded the amounts that were allowed and the figures Moldsilva was using to manage the forests. The amount of wood leaving the forests was also far more than enough to cancel out any natural forest growth,” said Aurel Lozan, FLEG II Country Program Coordinator in Moldova. “Now we are in 2015 and things might have changed, but the trend is still there. We applaud Moldsilva’s effort to reduce the level of illegalities associated with forests and improve forest management, especially in the valuable portion of forests such as oak stands and trees that are under continuous pressure. We look forward to continuing to support those efforts.”
In 2010, in cooperation with local NGOs and local public authorities, researchers and Moldsilva, FLEG conducted an analysis of real annual wood consumption which showed that Moldova’s forests were managed unsustainably. The report indicated large volumes of wood were being harvested illegally—so much that Moldova’s forest consumption was outpacing its forests’ ability to regenerate—and far more than what forest managers were able to document. This recent decision to cease oak main felling is a continuation of the agency’s efforts over the last five years to combat illegal logging and better manage Moldova’s forests. The decision will not affect regeneration felling to promote forest reconstruction and growth.
Throughout the process, Moldsilva has called on the FLEG Program, both its first phase and the current, second phase, for expertise in a variety of areas from technical expertise and research to communications and outreach. To further inform Moldsilva’s management efforts, FLEG II is now conducting three other studies on the topics of forest ecosystem services, forest and nature dependency among local communities, and economic losses from unsustainable practices.