1. FOREST RESOURCES
Forests are intimately linked to Romania's cultural, economic, social and historical development. The country is located in the continental temperate region, with a varied relief ranging from seaside to mountain.
Under climatic circumstances and specific relief conditions, forest vegetation has a double distribution: from a latitude point of view (44° to 49° northern latitude), which places Romania in the oaks regions; and from the altitude point of view, with several vegetation stories, from oak to Norway spruce.
The forest area is 6 249 million ha, representing 26.3 percent of Romania's land area. Ninety-six percent of the forest land is publicly owned and four percent is private property, following the Land Law of 1991 which restored private agriculture and forestry. There are more than 319 000 ha of forest land (so- called outside the forest stock).
The dominant species are broadleaved (69 %), including beech (31 %), oaks (18 %), other hardwoods (15 %), and softwoods (5 %). Conifers cover 31 percent of the area, including Norway spruce (23 %), white fir (5 %) and other resinous (3 %).
Standing volume is about 1 341 million m3, which means about 218 m3/ha. The main species are beech (36 %), spruce (29 %) and oaks (13 %).
Forests are divided into the two following functional classifications: Group 1 - forests with special protection function (38 %); although each stand fulfils multiple functions, according to its primary function, this group is divided into five subgroups - hydrology protection (13 %), soil protection (14 %), against climatic and industrial damages (1 %), recreation (7 %), and biodiversity and scientific interests (3 %). Each sub-group has many different functional categories (amounting almost to 60 in total) which are taken into consideration for establishing the management measures. Group 2 are those with both a production and protection function (62 %).
An estimated forest area of 10 percent with high functional intensity is managed under silvicultural conservative operations or without harvest cuttings.
According to the last inventory of 1985, the estimated average yearly growth is 5.6 m3 ha.
The Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) is stipulated by law at present as calculated according to management plans drawn up by the Forest Research and Management Institute.
Over the last decades, the harvesting rates constantly surpassed the AAC, which upset the balanced structure of the standing stock by age classes, then reflected in a decrease of the AAC of the forests. Fortunately, the situation is now under control.
The first Forestry Code in Romania was adopted in 1881, and has subsequently been revised continually. Now in force is the Forestry Code of 1961. Some of its provisions have been replaced or amended over a period of years.
However, a new one has recently been prepared, which will be examined and is expected to pass in Parliament. The Code integrates those previous laws and regulations that are still valid, together with recent legislative changes brought about by ongoing political and economical changes. Key modifications are: the introduction of private ownership (new procedures to sell wood and other products in the context of a market economy); limitations on log and low processed wood exports; and increased penalties and fines for forest offences.
The most important documents related to the forest policy and strategy were: The National Program for the Conservation and Development of the Forest Fund for the Period 1976-2010, from 1976; and Law No. 2/1987, On Forest Conservation, Protection and Development, Their Sustained Exploitation and the Preservation of the Ecological Balance.
The above documents highlight conservation issues such as the need to safeguard the integrity of the forest fund, different silvicultural operations for forests according to their main use, and establishing seed stand reserves and conservation of the genetic substance of forests.
Law No. 2/1987 has brought a new orientation related to the improvement of the environment and the insurance of an ecological equilibrium. Among other items it aims to: promote the valuable native forest species; stop the extension of conifers outside their natural range; increase the proportion of natural regeneration; and diminish drastically clear cuttings.
Forest enterprises are also responsible for game and fish in mountain management. These are regulated by Law No. 26/1976 on game management and hunting, and Law No. 12/1974 on fish farming and fishing.
Since 1989, specific laws have completed the legislative framework aimed at safeguarding the integrity of the forest area, limiting the harvest rate to the AAC, and increasing the wood volume destined to the rural population.
Other laws are being drawn on game management and fishing in mountain waters.
Land Law No. 18/1991 regulates inter-alia private forest property for former owners, strict control for changing forest use and restoration of degraded lands or polluted areas.
3. INSTITUTIONAL RESPONSE TO THE TRANSITION TO A MARKET ECONOMY
One of the first measures taken in forestry after 1989, the year for major political and economical changes, was to suppress the former Ministry of Forestry and former Ministry of Wood Industry and Construction Materials. Instead, new government entities have been set up: the Ministry of Waters, Forests and Environment with the Department of Forests (today the Ministry of Waters, Forests and Environment Protection), and the Ministry of Industry with the Department of Wood Industry.
As a result of a governmental decision, The Autonomous Administration of Forests, ROMSILVA R.A., was established in 1990 to act as an agent with state capital, and based on economical efficiency and responsible for the administration and management of most of the state owned forests (99.5 %)., i.e., the forest fund
In this way, the Department of Forests is specifically assigned to elaborate development strategies and policies in the field of forest management as well as to control their implementation.
ROMSILVA is coordinating 41 forest subsidiaries, corresponding to the administrative counties of the country. Under them there are about 400 forest districts, each covering from 6 to 20 000 ha of forest area. Within a district the forest is divided into production units which normally would be delimited in natural catchment areas varying from 1 to 5 000 ha. The forest management plans are prepared for each production unit at a 10-year interval. There are a total of 2 400 units in the country. ROMSILVA directs the Forest Research and Management Institute, a training centre and the "Forest Review".
Similarly, the Autonomous Administrations of Wood Exploitation have been set up under the Ministry of Industry; in 1991 it was split into 3. After a recent governmental decision, these 3 Autonomous Administrations have been transformed, on a regional basis, into 17 commercial companies subordinated to the Department of Wood Industry.
From a total of 138 commercial companies specialized in logging and wood processing, only 9 have been privatized (with a social capital of about 4.5 %). Thus, although in primary stages at present, important advances have been made toward privatization of smaller units, which will be easier to be privatized over a period of time. These are handling industrial harvesting - mainly final cuts - and carrying out about 80 percent of the logging operations. The remaining 20 percent of the total cut is logged by ROMSILVA, this mostly from thinning and cleaning operations and sanitary cuts which also supply the rural population with fuel wood and local construction wood. The wood harvested by private companies is insignificant.
Logging units are also responsible for the transport of wood from the forest to the primary processing centres.
At present, there are about 32 000 km of forest roads. This figure corresponds to the road density of 6.1 m/ha. This low density varies between 41 regional branches of ROMSILVA, resulting in 1.8 km as an average skidding distance.
At the same time, ROMSILVA has taken over responsibility for the construction and maintenance of forest roads, which had been until recently the responsibility of the former three Autonomous Administrations of Wood Exploitation.
The annual planning of forestry activities is carried out by forest units responsible for forest management. The program is approved by the Board of ROMSILVA and adopted by the Department of Forests. ROMSILVA implements this program by its subunits.
Private forest owners are obliged to observe the management programs financed from the state budget or by ROMSILVA. The involvement of a technical forest staff in the management of private forests is not yet clear. Forest units are charged with the control of program implementation.
The planning of activities and the implementation of the forest policy in the field of harvesting and wood industry is the responsibility of the Department of Wood Industry. Since reform has been more accelerated in this area, it has led to more rapid changes in the institutional structure.
Transformations of the structure in the autonomous administrations aimed at an increment in efficiency or at a change in functional assignment.
As a result of taking over this activity, ROMSILVA and its territorial subsidiaries have recently set up specific departments in charge of forest road management
The sector of non-wood forest activities is an important source of income (about 3-35 %) and employment; it has also undergone changes.
The conservation policy of game management and favourable environmental conditions permitted good development of main game species. Recently hunting has been well organized to attract foreign hunters because of the exceptional quality of the trophies. Even endangered species in Europe, such as the wolf, bear or lynx, are surviving well in Romania.
4. ADVANCES AND ISSUES
Among advances in the policy of forest management are the following:
- Progressive adaptation of the legislative framework to the new social and economic conditions and the improvement of institutional structures.
- Management of public owned forests according to management plans established according to sustainable development principles.
- Various management methods performed according to multi-use forest stands.
- Interdiction to exceed the AAC in order to recover the growing stock and to improve environmental conditions.
- Concern about the conservation of biodiversity of forest ecosystems, stimulating natural regeneration. There are more than 70 000 ha of seed stands and 700 ha of orchards.
- Establishment of national parks and reserves and other protected areas with an estimated 400 000 ha. Another 300 areas, amounting to l00 000 ha, have been identified and are proposed to be considered as protected areas.
- Wise management of game in order to get valuable stock.
- Take-over of forest roads as a part of the forest area.
- Initiate primary measures for a transition to a specific relationship of the market economy (e.g., selling wood at auctions).
- Progressive adaptation of production capacities of industrial agents to the volume of wood harvested.
- Priority given to the development and rehabilitation of enterprises that produce furniture and other products for export.
- Initiate the privatization process of enterprises in logging and wood industries.
The following are various constraints that will need to be dealt with during the transition process:
- The delay in the transition of forestry to a market economy due to the pricing of standing timber. Even though ROMSILVA is allowed to sell wood at auction, sales are not likely to produce a correct free market price for the timber because of monopolistic buyers. Competitive bidding will be created together with the strengthening of the private sector. This will have a positive influence on the balance between income from timber and non-wood forest products, thereby leading to the opportunity for developing the privatization of the latter.
- Taking over of forest roads by ROMSILVA - due to the low road density - will require large financial resources for the construction of new ones and their maintenance. This will greatly influence partnership relations, stumpage price and its differentiation in relation to the degree of accessibility.
- A peculiar picture results from the division into too many fragments of the private forests (about one million owners for 280 000 ha), which prevent normal management. In addition, there is a permanent pressure on forests from private owners eager to get immediate profit and consequently indulge in excessive illegal cuttings, even clear cuttings.
- Severe decrease of investments in the first years of transition.
- Obvious reduction of reforestation on some degraded lands because of objections from private owners.
- A certain regression in research due to a lack of financial resources, facilities, equipment and staff.
5. FOREST EXTENSION
The area outside the forest land is 16.9 million ha of which about 38 percent is estimated to be characterized by degradation. For most of this area the only way to reinstate it in a productive cycle is through afforestation.
In past years, when 99 percent of the land was a state property, it was easy to shift degraded land from the agricultural sector to the forest fund for afforestation projects. At present the situation has completely changed with the ongoing privatization of agricultural land.
According to the Land Law /199l, degraded or polluted lands with productive potential are established with restoration perimeters. Owners are obliged to subject these lands to restoration projects, keeping ownership, even if afforestation is done at state expense. Individual owners, or those in associations whose degraded lands are not constituted as restoration perimeters, can make improvements through free planting material, chemicals and technical assistance from the State.
If permanent works have to be carried out for watershed management, the State can make equivalent exchanges of land with the owner.
Land included in an improvement area is exempted from taxes during the work.
In Law 83/93 it is stipulated that private owners of agricultural land will receive an afforestation bonus from the state budget, in compensation for afforestation or planting windbreaks, if they agree to follow forest regulations.
Consequently, private forest land can consist of afforested degraded lands formerly in the agricultural fund.
Introduction of farm forestry is, inter alia, a way to alleviate the present situation through its various effects, i.e., protection against wind and water erosion, production of wood to satisfy on-farm needs or to diversify sources of revenue.
If a legal framework is drawn up, there is a need to develop a specific extension service and close collaboration between agricultural as well as forestry institutions.
6. RESEARCH, EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Romania has a long-standing research capacity meeting international standards.
Research in forestry is done in the Forest Research and Management Institute, which was created in 1993. It is subordinated administratively to ROMSILVA, with scientific guidance from the Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences. The institute is divided into a research branch and the forest management branch which handles the forest inventories and data collection for the preparation of management plans. This is done together with some small private companies for all state-owned forests.
The institute has 18 research and management planning stations and 6 forest districts in the countryside. Its activity covers the whole of forestry organized in various research programs. The emphasis is mainly on forest genetics, forest ecology and nature protection, wildlife management and trout farming, forest monitoring, and economic problems of forestry.
Research on harvesting and transportation is carried out by the National Institute of Wood, under the authority of the Ministry of Industry. It has become an independent organization which gets its financing from projects created for the industry and other clients. Its activity is concentrated on logging and transport, including design of roads and mechanical wood industries (sawmills, plywood mills, particle board mills, etc.). The connections to forestry are mainly through harvesting and transport projects.
The educational system in forestry has an old tradition in Romania, with higher education dating from the 1880s. Schooling is free of charge at all levels, including at state universities.
The educational system is organized on different levels. There are secondary schools (high schools), training at mid-level education. Vocational schools (with enrolment after primary or secondary schools) offer training in forestry and forest industries. Higher education is available in colleges (three years) and faculties (five years).
Higher forestry education has been conducted until the 1990s only by the Faculty of Silviculture and Exploitation of Forests, from the University "Transilvania" of Brasov, which is presently still the most important, responsible for giving university level training for students, specializing either in biological forestry (silviculture and wood production) or harvesting and transport of wood.
Another smaller state faculty was founded in Suceava. In addition, other three private forestry faculties have been established by university professors and other teachers.
Post graduate courses are given at all educational levels. The doctoral degree is given in ten specialities.
However, there is a general shortage of equipment and facilities in both research and training and education.