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Protecting Europe's last virgin forests

Monday, September 19, 2016 - 01:49

Armed with technology and an army of watchful citizens and volunteers, Romania hopes to curb illegal logging and protect some of the last virgin forests left in Europe. Ben Gruber reports.

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STORY: On a rainy day deep in the mountains of central Romania, a group of Greenpeace conservationists count, tag and measure every tree they pass. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CONSERVATION BIOLOGIST, MICHAEL CURRAN, SAYING: "I've found some forested landscapes that I've never seen in my life, ever..this landscape, this is unique in all of Europe, this is the last of the wild you could say." Their goal is to help save some of the last virgin forests left in Europe and the endangered species, like brown bears and wolves that live in them. The biggest threat to these ancient forests is illegal logging. The Romanian government has invited NGO's like Greenpeace to help map the forests in an effort to get a better idea of the size of these ancient landscapes. (SOUNDBITE) (Romanian) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE GREENPEACE FOREST CAMPAIGN COORDINATOR, VALENTIN SALAGEANU, SAYING: "An inventory dating back to 2005 shows that we have 250,000 hectares of virgin forest but the lack of responsibility over the last decade has probably curbed it to less than half that figure." To keep track of and hopefully curb illegal logging operations, the Romanian government has also developed a smartphone app called Forest Inspector. It allows anyone in the protected areas to track timber trucks, giving authorities a real time view of logging operations. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ROMANIAN ENVIRONMENT MINISTER, CRISTIANA PASCA PALMER, SAYING: "This is also super important because I believe in the future it's only through this electronic monitoring that we can in fact really reduce the illegal logging." The government hopes to have the Forest Inspector database live within 6 months.

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Protecting Europe's last virgin forests

Monday, September 19, 2016 - 01:49