site.btaNew WWF Report: Over Quarter of Logging in Bulgaria Is Illegal
Illegal logging in Bulgaria for the period 2018-2022 is between 1/4 and 1/3 of the amount of officially harvested timber and is alarmingly high, according to a report published on Monday by the conservation organization WWF, which was quoted by its Bulgarian branch. "Moreover, it appears that half of the seemingly legal logging is carried out in violation of forest, environment, biodiversity and protected areas laws," the organization said.
Experts estimate that illegal logging generates hidden revenues of more than BGN 100 million a year.
Dobromir Dobrinov, a senior expert on environmental legislation and co-author of the analysis, explains that the analysis used a variety of sources, including annual reports from the Executive Forest Agency, relevant data from the National Statistical Institute, and a broad legal framework.
Data on illegal logging, albeit on a small scale, are available even from the three national parks - Rila, Pirin and Central Balkan, he says.
The document also takes into account the most widespread schemes of illegal harvesting and sale of wood: harvesting of unmarked trees in plantations intended for logging; manipulation in the calculation of the volume of firewood and process wood; concealment of illegally harvested wood during its shipment; manipulation in the grading of marked trees.
The authors of the report believe that one of the prerequisites for these violations is the insufficient number of forest officials. At the moment, they are a little over 3,000 people in the whole of Bulgaria, and in recent years their number has been gradually decreasing. The share of financing that the state budget allocates to forest management continues to fall.
The report identifies control mechanisms over the harvesting and trade of illegal timber as weak. Regardless of the serious interest in the topic, the public does not show activity and do not contribute to the fight against illegal logging, and the judicial system suffers from chronic problems, lacking targeted steps to overcome them, report the authors of the analysis.
WWF warns that unless urgent and decisive action is taken to remove the conditions for illegal logging at many levels, the trend will worsen. "Unless urgent action is taken, in addition to costing the state budget millions of leva each year, this vicious practice will lead to sustained reduced productive, water and conservation functions of forests, threatening to deprive entire regions of clean air and drinking water," the organization wrote.