International Journal of Government Auditing – Summer 2015
Subsequent to the United Nations Conference of Rio de Janeiro, 1992, which launched the sustainable development concept, forests have been considered assets of humanity. Forests play economic, ecologic and social functions, and states were invited to adopt sustainable management principles to benefit current and future generations. The first of the six management criteria established at the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe, held in Lisbon in 1998, is about the maintenance and appropriate enhancement of forest resources and their contribution to global carbon cycles. Forests absorb carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, capturing carbon in the wooden mass and in the soil, then eliminating pure oxygen and ruling out greenhouse gas emission from the atmosphere. Thus, forests play a key role in reaching the objective provided in the Europe Strategy 2020: achieving greenhouse gas emissions that are 20 percent lower than they were in 1990. Data on
The mission titled "Performance audit of the national forest fund administration, in the period 2010-2013" was conducted in 2014 at:
Four auditors from the Court of Accounts, and 80 from 40 county chambers of accounts, participated in this mission.
Special attention was paid to forest regeneration and the enhancement of afforested areas, within the framework of the analysis of forest administration, organization and management. The mission was mainly aimed at the topics explained below.
Failure to care for and regenerate the growing stock generates shrinkage of forested surfaces, and forest destructuring and degeneration, thus negatively impacting their respective protective, economic, ecological and social functions.
Laws were established providing obligations to regenerate forests so as to prevent this phenomenon.
The National Code for Good Forestry Practices (The Forestry Code) provides that forest owners/administrators are to regenerate forests within two vegetation seasons as of sole or final cutting, and to establish a forest preservation and regeneration fund to finance growing stock regeneration and caring works.
In the period 2010-2013, regeneration works were conducted in keeping with the table on the next page.
Here are the findings:
Romania has around 2.2 million ha of degraded agricultural land, which cannot be used for agricultural purposes but can be enhanced by afforesting. In the period 2002-2006, 19,349 ha of degraded land were transferred from the State Domains Administration to the Forest National Régies for afforesting purposes. After 2006, only one more transfer was made: 73.7 ha, in 2011.
In keeping with national afforesting programs, the afforesting of 156 thousand ha of degraded land was provided for 2005-2013, of which 18.5 thousand ha were actually afforested (12 percent). At this pace, it would take some 1,070 years to afforest the current degraded lands (2.2 thousand ha).
As of 2008, the degraded land afforesting program was also financed by the Environment Fund.
The following were found relating to the financing from the Environment Fund:
In keeping with the national afforesting program approved in 2004, the protection forest curtains requirement in Romania was 270,000 ha.
In 2013, the program was updated; the new objectives are highlighted in the table below:
Only some 388 forest curtains were set up in the period 2005-2013. Therefore, at the beginning of 2014, the forest curtains surface in Romania was about 3,800 ha, lower by 5,500 ha than they were in 1957 (in 1962, protection forest curtains were almost totally cleared, to be turned into agricultural land).
The legislation frequently promoted the development of certain sectors based on the forestry sector, by tax exemptions provided in the Forestry Code granted to beneficiaries of land removals from the forest funds. Thus, the forest fund was put in a position to no longer be able to establish financial resources for forest regeneration and preservation, and for afforesting.
In the period 2009-2013, the improvement fund recorded net constituted financial resources of 63,944 lei, and the fund for forest preservation and regeneration 343,240 thousand lei, as a consequence of tax exemption provided by special laws.
It was also found that there is a very high number of extensions of temporary occupation deadlines for abandoned oil drills. The extension of the occupation authorizations is a procedure to wangle the obligation of the occupation beneficiary to return the land in a state allowing for afforesting.
There is an alarming diminution trend of forest funds through the transformation, after clearance, of forest lands into agricultural lands or pastures. Identified were some 912 ha which were cleared and illegally turned into agricultural lands, and another 172 ha which were, after abusive exploitation of wooden mass, abandoned.
The destination change of forest vegetation land into agricultural land or pastures is also stimulated by grants from the European Agricultural
The following recommendations were made relating to these issues:
The recommendations were forwarded to the appropriate authorities so that they could take the required measures.