Legislation regulating the issuing of harvesting permits, licences or other legal document required for specific harvesting operations. It includes the use of legal methods to obtain the permit. Corruption is a well-known issue in connection with the issuing of harvesting permits. Risk relates to situations where required harvesting is carried out without valid permits or where these are obtained via illegal means such as bribery. In some areas, bribery may be commonly used to obtain harvesting permits for areas and species that cannot be harvested legally (e.g., protected areas, areas that do not fulfil requirements of minimum age or diameter, tree species that cannot be harvested, etc.). In cases where harvesting permits classify species and qualities to estimate fees, corruption and bribery can be used to classify products that will result in a lower fee. The level of corruption in a country or subnational region is considered to play an important role and corruption indicators should therefore be considered when evaluating risks. In cases of illegal logging, harvesting permits from sites other than the actual harvesting site may be provided as a false proof of legality with the harvested material.

  • Ministerial Order 837/2014 regarding the approval of the Methodology for the organization and functioning of SUMAL, the obligations of SUMAL users as well as the structure and transmition of standardized information [Ordinul nr. 837/2014 pentru aprobarea Metodologiei privind organizarea şi funcţionarea SUMAL, obligaţiile utilizatorilor SUMAL, precum şi structura şi modalitatea de transmitere a informaţiilor standardizate] http://legislatie.just.ro/Public/DetaliiDocument/162297
  • Ministerial Order 596/2014 test methodology regarding the implementation of integrated information system for tracking wood materials http://legislatie.just.ro/Public/DetaliiDocument/159489
  • Ministerial Order 1507/2016 regarding the approval of the Procedure for approving, modifying, annulment and expirationof the Volume Estimation Documents for timber originating from the national forest fund and the forest vegetation on lands outside the national forest fund [Ordinul nr. 1507/2016 privind aprobarea Procedurii de aprobare, modificare, anulare şi casare a actelor de punere în valoare pentru masa lemnoasă provenită din fondul forestier naţional şi din vegetaţia forestieră situată pe terenuri din afara fondului forestier national], http://legislatie.just.ro/Public/DetaliiDocument/181215
  • Ministerial Order 1540/2011 regarding the approval of harvesting instructions, dates and technologies: http://legislatie.just.ro/Public/DetaliiDocument/129446
  • Order no. 1798/2010 Procedure for issuance of the environmental permit (Art. 19): http://legislatie.just.ro/Public/DetaliiDocumentAfis/143346
  • Ministerial Order No. 1330/2015 regarding the organisation, functioning and componence of the Commission for certification of forest harvesting contractors, as well as the criteria for certification [ORDIN nr. 1.330 din 1 septembrie 2015 pentru aprobarea Regulamentului privind organizarea, funcţionarea şi componenţa Comisiei de atestare a operatorilor economici pentru activitatea de exploatare forestieră, precum şi criteriile de atestare pentru activitatea de exploatare forestieră]: http://legislatie.just.ro/Public/DetaliiDocument/171315

Ministry of Environment, Water and Forests
Forest guard
Commission for Certification of Forest Harvesting Contractors (ASFOR)

Harvesting certificate (Issued for a total quantity of wood for harvesting based on specific criteria (no. of forest engineers, no. of tractors, etc) (ex. 15000 mc)
Harvesting permit (Standing stock)

Government sources

Ministry of Environment, Water and Forests (2015): The map of the potential risk areas for illegal logging: http://www.mmediu.ro/categorie/paduri/25 

Emergency Ordinance 32/2015 regarding the establishment of the Forest Guards: http://lege5.ro/App/Document/g4ytmojrgi/ordonanta-de-urgenta-nr-32-2015-privind-infiintarea-garzilorforestiere

Romanian Court of Accounts (2014): An audit report on the performance of national forest found administration during 2010-2013: http://www.curteadeconturi.ro/Publicatii/Sinteza_FF.pdf 

Non-Government sources

Greenpeace Romania (2015): Illegal cuts in Romanian forests. Available at: http://www.greenpeace.org/romania/Global/romania/paduri/Publicatii/Raport%20taieri%20ilegale%20201 5.pdf. [Accessed 14 November 2016].

The Center for Sustainable Policies Ecopolis (2012): A study on the means of prevention and mitigation of illegal cuts in Romania [Analiza mecanismelor de prevenire si combatere a ilegalitatilor silvice din Romania]. Available at: http://www.ecopolis.org.ro/media/Studiu%20ilegalitati%20silvice.pdf. [Accessed 14 November 2016].

Bouriaud L., Marzano M. (2014): Conservation, extraction and corruption: Is sustainable forest management possible in Romania? In: Gilberthrope E., Hilson G. (ed.), Natural Resource Extraction and Indigenous Livelihoods, Development Challanges in Era of Globalisation. Ashgate, pp. 221-240

Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Department for Water, Forests and Fishery (2014): biometrics methods for evaluating the volume of wood. Nr. 90171/04.11.2014. Available at: http://apepaduri.gov.ro/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Metode-dend.-12.11.2014-draft-M.GH_..pdf. [Accessed on 14 November 2016].

Overview of Legal Requirements

Forest harvesting permits are issued based on the inventory of the trees to be harvested and an estimation of the volume within the Volume Estimation Document (VED). Any wood harvest from forests or forest vegetation areas (forested pastures, trees outside forests etc.), regardless of ownership, is subject to individual inventory of trees to be harvested and the drafting of the VED by authorised forest management firms (state or private Forest districts).

The classification of species, quantities and qualities is done along with the drafting of inventory papers (VED). Each tree that is marked for cutting (with a circular mark on the trunk) and the diameter at chest height, the species and quality class (I-IV) are recorded. The threshold for diameter measurements is 6 cm. The height is modelled using a regression equation, defined on the basis of a 20-30 tree sample. The measurements are introduced in the SUMAL application and the Harvesting Permit Volume Estimation Document (APV) is drafted. The application computes the overall volume and the volume per type (industrial wood, fuel wood, types of logs etc.). In pre-commercial thinning, the harvested wood is measured in stere (Unit of volume equal to one cubic meter) and converted into cubic metres using conversion factors. Estimates of volume from diameter and modelled height are based on regression equations with coefficients determined at a national level (Giurgiu, 2004). Each VED is verified by the forest fund representative at the forest district, approved by the forest district chief and posted on the site of the Forest Guard. The Ministerial Order 1507/2016 states that the Forest Guard will verify at least 20% of the VEDs registered on its website.

The volume estimated through the APV is considered to be the threshold for the actual harvested volume, measured as logs and recorded in the delivery documents.

The volume given in the Volume Estimation Document (VED) is the basis of the auction process for publicly owned forest, or other types of selling for privately owned forest. The volume is calculated in SUMAL (Integrated Information System for Timber Tracking) and is controlled throughout the chain of custody using the Wood Tracking System, which is the contractor component of SUMAL.

The harvesting of wood from publicly owned forests (state or municipality) is contracted by auction, either as standing stock or as harvesting services. An exception: wood for local communities’ needs can be sold without auction using favourable prices set by the National Forest Administration or municipal councils.

Contractors are allowed to take part in the auction after a previous attestation process done by a commission of the Romanian Foresters Association (ASFOR) (see also 1.1). The attestation is issued for a maximum volume of wood to be harvested over a period of time, according to the personnel and the machinery available to the firm. The contractor can participate in auctions that have listed less or equal the volume of wood it is authorised for.

In private forests, the owners can choose the method by which to sell their wood, either by auction or by negotiation. Individual private forest owners are also allowed to harvest up to 20m3 with his or her own equipment. The harvested wood is also subject to harvesting permit and delivery document issued by the nearest Forest district office.

After the adjudication and the harvest permit is issued by the Forest district chief, the firm (both private and state forests) must apply for authorisation from the Environmental Protection Agency. The APV contains the total volume to be harvested, on species and assortments and the harvesting technics to be applied, in concordance with the silviculture system used. The estimated volume cannot be exceeded during the harvest – the contractor is not permitted to issue delivery documents for more than the volume given in the Volume Estimation Document (VED).

The timber harvesting contractors that will perform harvesting activities in any forest in Romania (with the exception of private owners that harvest up to 20 cubic metres from their own forest) have to be certified for a certain amount of timber per year by the Commission for Certification of Forest Harvesting Contractors, within the Association of Foresters in Romania (ASFOR) (OM 1330/2015). The certification is based on the number of employees with a technical forestry background (technical school or faculty) and the presence of harvesting equipment (tractors, chainsaws, tower yarders etc.). The existence of harvesting certificate is condition to obtain the harvesting permit.

Description of risk
The risks related to harvesting permits originate in the issuing procedures and in the difficulty of controlling the decision system behind establishing the types of cuts, the drafting of APVs and the monitoring of the chain of custody through the wood tracking application. The results of the National Forest Inventory show a difference between the volume harvested (computed through inventory) and the volume recorded in legal documents (annual reports of each FME to the National Statistical Institute, containing a centralisation of the volumes harvested by types of cuts – regeneration, thinning, conservation, and sanitary or accidental cuts) of about 8.8 million cubic metres each year. This volume is considered to be illegally harvested (without a permit or on the basis of underestimated inventories) (Government decision regarding the establishment of the Forest Guards). This amount is not categorised by region or ownership types.

The Audit Report of the Romanian Court of Accounts (2014) states several causes and means by which the illegally logged volume is introduced into the chain of custody:

  • Ownership fragmentation and insufficient marking of property boundaries in the field, and lack of administration contracts for every forest area (415,155 ha of forest was not under guarding and administrative contracts with authorised Forest districts in 2013), leading to the possible issuing of harvesting permits for areas outside the boundaries of the relevant property;
  • Harvesting permit issued masking of illegal logging as inventory for “accidental cuts”, which are not always justified or properly checked;

According to NGOs active in recent years (Greenpeace, WWF, Agent Green, Environmental Investigation Agency, Ecopolis, Nostra Silva) all of these situations can arise in a climate of a lack of proper enforcement of justice. The case study presented by Ecopolis in 2012 showed that of 7,168 initiated cases (concerning damage exceeding 5m3), only 723 dossiers had been filed in Court, the rest having been dismissed by the prosecution. Out of these 723, only 4% (34 cases) led to a custodial sentence being imposed, while 60% received suspended sentences and 36% received pecuniary penalties.

However, in the years since, measures to control illegal logging have increased, and as a result, in 2015, about 35,000 cases of illegal logging were recorded (compared to about 10,000 in 2011) (Greenpeace, 2015). Also, the Forest RADAR resulted in 19,946 calls for verification of the legality of wood transports, out of which 17% were discovered to be illegal. This does not necessarily mean that illegal cuts had proliferated in 2015, just that a more detailed approach by the authorities had uncovered wrongdoing more effectively. For the harvesting validation, the timber volumes harvested in the field must be accurately similar with the VED, even though the VED is an estimative document (accuracy of 5 % in 68 % of cases, or accuracy 8-10 % in 95 % of cases).

The correction situations of the VED that are mentioned by MO 1507/2016 refer only to verifications of the VED prior to timber harvesting and no further corrections can be made using the more accurately measured volume of logs after harvesting.

In practice, a majority of timber harvesting result which corresponds to the initial estimation with differences below 1 m3 raise concerns, considering that the 10% accuracy for 500 mc on VED means 50 mc. In the last year, the modifications of the law 171/2010 regarding the penalties for contraventions related to the forestry sector includes severe punishments including for trespasses related to Volume Estimation Documents drafting, approval and verification. As the modification of the law is only active since 20th of October 2016, its results in practice as a risk mitigation have yet to be evaluated.

Harvesting certification
In order to be registered, timber harvesting contractors must present a list of equipment and technical personnel that should cover the volume of timber which can be harvested by the contractor in a one-year period. The persons have to be employed full time and only in one firm. Controls were made of firms that have a valid contract for verification of continuous employment of technical personnel. The risk related to the issue of harvesting certificate is concerning the state of the machinery used in forest, usually, with several years of use, representing a hazard for health and safety and environment. The harvesting permit is issued based on a valid harvesting certificate.

Thus, the wood selling procedure regarding standing stock is based on the volume estimation document which does not represent the real quantity of wood obtained by harvesting. The harvesting certification issued for logging companies does not represent in practice the technical capacity of the company. The risk of this indicator is considered specified.

Risk conclusion
This indicator has been evaluated as specified risk. Identified laws are not upheld consistently by all entities and/or are often ignored, and/or are not enforced by relevant authorities.

Generic

  • Field visits shall be made to verify that maps are in compliance with reality.
  • Harvesting permits (licences or similar legal documents governing the harvesting of forest resources) shall exist.
  • Harvesting limits shall be clearly defined based on maps and quantities.
  • Authorities shall confirm the validity of harvesting permits.
  • Stakeholder consultation shall confirm that harvesting permits have been issued in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations by the legally designated competent authority.
  • Field inspections shall confirm that harvesting takes place within the limits given in the harvesting permit.
  • Field inspections shall confirm that information regarding area, species, volumes and other information given in the harvesting permit are correct and within limits prescribed in the legislation

Country Specific

  • Verify logging area boundaries in the field to ensure harvesting has taken place within boundaries.
  • Cross-check volumes and assortments in SUMAL.
  • Require the use of a Wood Tracking App and check the online code and its validity in order to verify threshold to be harvested is not exceeded.
  • Verify the accuracy of inventories for APV drafting.
  • Control assortments (industrial wood and firewood) by comparing the estimation volume from the APV with the harvesting result.