Journalists from Four Eastern-European Countries Investigate Illegal Practices in Logging and Forestry Management

Illegal logging and other unsustainable practices of forests and protected areas management were investigated by journalists from Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania and Moldova during the summer of 2015. Their collaboration was part of a project completed by the BlueLink Foundation in Bulgaria.

In September 2015 a seminar took place in Sofia, Bulgaria with the participation of journalists from the four Eastern-European countries; during the seminar were presented preliminary results from their investigative researches. Among the discussed issues during the event were “monopolization” of forest services (Romania), public consultations with local stakeholders regarding intended projects for building new hydropowerplants in a national park (Macedonia) and unsustainable forestry management (Moldova).

The topic of the investigative research in Bulgaria was counteracting illegal logging schemes in northwestern Bulgaria, involving as “trading partners” local economic and political actors from Bulgaria and Romania, as well as a multinational Austrian company. The preliminary outcomes of the research were presented in October 2015 by the journalist Atanas Tchobanov from during a public discussion which took place in ‘The Red House for Culture and Debate’ in Sofia, Bulgaria called ‘Termits without Borders’.

The participants from NGOs, media and national institutions agreed that there was a need of enhanced cooperation among the different public and private actors in order to secure a proper implementation of the existing legal framework for sustainable management of forests in Bulgaria and building the capacity for monitoring of forestry logging and commercial activities via the utilization of modern technologies, i.e. instruments for GPS tracking of logging activities, the introduction of “electronic” tickets  for trucks, allowing the transportation of wood on the territory of Bulgaria and across borders, etc.

The journalistic investigations and events were part of the project GEF-15-01/02 „Establishing a Transboundary Watchdog Mechanism for Environmental Problems For Green Political Parties and NGOs on the Balkans“, financed by Green European Foundation