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More than pretty kindling: The role of the forest fund

26.06.2023   526 

M. A. Malik

 Dr. Valeriu Caisîn, director of “Moldsilva” Agency, explains the enigma behind the forest fund: What is the forest fund, what is the state of the forest fund and what are the future plans concerning its betterment.


            The forest, a place of intrigue and mystery for many fantasy plots, natural relics of history and home to many wonderful species. Many of us had the chance to walk through a forest or through a lush park and felt compelled to become protective over such sights, frowning at the mere idea that a tree should be cut down. This is because while many of us can admire the beauty of the forest and its wonderful role as the earth’s lungs, very few of us understand the complexity it actually harbours.


            For us to understand what the full roles of a forest are, we firstly must understand that most forests belong to a certain national forest fund. The forest fund, stately public property, is managed and taken care of by Agency “Moldsilva”. They are in charge of approximatively 370 thousand hectares, or circa 85%  of the national forest fund.


What is a national forest fund?


            “By general classic definition, a forest found is the totality of the forests that belong to a country or an administrative unity. That means all the forests that are in that country or territory and that are marked in the State Land Cadastre’s registries. Obviously there are terrains of woodland that are not belong to the national forest fund, either because they are energetic purposed plantations or wood masses that have recently grown through natural regeneration.”


So how does it actually work?


            The Agency puts in the effort to manage and take appropriate care of the forests in its jurisdiction. Besides regular work that follows national guides and regulations, such as guarding and protecting,  managing and taking care of the forests, flora and fauna found in our forests, the Agency has also initiated and participated at several round-table discussions and campaigns that had as objective bringing attention to the issues faced by the state-managed forests, such as climate change, the need for expansion and appropriate use of the forests in the national forest fund.


            When interviewing Dr. Valeriu Caisîn, general director of Agency   Moldsilva”, he explains that at present, “the Agency is in the process of formulating a national plan for reforestation, through which it is intended to extend the forest fund by 145 thousand ha for the next 10 years.” He goes on to explain that the activities for the plan’s elaboration and the preparation for reforestation developments are carried out simultaneously. “In the year 2022 alone, local authorities have approved 27 thousand hectares to be prepared for reforestation. The soil preparation works, as well as the cultivation works, have happened last Autumn over a territory of circa 1000 ha.”


            “Moldsilva” Agency annually organises and participates in planting events along volunteers and public workers. These events happen each Autumn and Spring, and the workers and volunteers plant tree starters, saplings or seedlings, helping to increase the forest fund and the natural regeneration of the area.


            Now that we know what the national forest fund is and how it is managed, we might be inclined to ask about the state of the fund.


So what is the state of our national forest fund?


            Ecology enthusiasts might be happy to hear that Republic of Moldova’s forest fund is “not only doing well, but has increased over the years, coming up to 11,7% forestation.” This is an incredible improvement from the 6% forestation that concerned our country during the 1940’s. Even though this percentage is already promising, we have to keep in mind that it is not the most accurate, as there are many areas covered by “vegetation that fulfil the definition and the role of a forest but are not categorised as such under the State Land Cadastre. This means that we are unsure of the actual expanse, at present, that is covered by woodland.”

            We find ourselves in a sensitive position, having to operate between two numbers, the official one coming from the Cadastre and the one observed by civilians and workers in the field which show us that the forest terrains  in our country are way larger than what is marked down in the official registers. This was also confirmed by analysing satellite images of the whole country which were made in 2019.

From this we can deduce that this vegetation should be “registered as forests, treated like forests and included in future managing and reforestation plans.”


            Coming from this, we can assume that there is room for improving and for growing our forest fund even more.


            It is important to understand that the limits of our forest funds are physical ones. We cannot grow more trees if we do not have more allocated land for it. However, just because the Agency doesn’t have any more land available than the one that is already in use, it does not mean that the efforts end there. This means that the forest fund can be expanded on land coming from other owners, such as local public authorities, private owners, and other institutes that have land to spare and that can be reforested.


Is the forest fund affected by the energy crisis?


            With the energy crisis keeping gas prices high and the quantity limited, more and more people feel compelled to use “traditional” methods to warm their homes, such as vegetations. It is specified in the European Energy Strategy it is stated that the best way to alleviate the energy crisis is the use of renewable energy sources, i.e. the sustainable use of vegetation as a source of energy.

            Beside the usual availability of  it, there are other reasons to turn to vegetation as an energy source. Everyone is being affected by the Climate Crisis, thus plans and strategies are put into function internationally to try attenuation and alleviation methods. The Climate Crisis is caused by the greenhouse effect, which in its turn is caused by gas generated by the heavy industries, by concentrated energy sources which in turn emanate even more CO2. These are fossil resources, coal, petrol and all its derivates, and natural gas.


            Out of all of these, the most dangerous one is coal, because when burned it eliminates the most carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Because of this, there has been a collective attempt at an European scale to exclude it as an option from their use.

            Second worst is petrol with all its derivates, like crude oil, gasoline, diesel and so on. These also emanate a significant amount of CO2 in the air. Again, society tries its best to exclude it as much as possible, we can see that through the rise in popularity of electric vehicles.

Then we have natural gas, which produces the least amount of carbon dioxide out of the three, yet it still generates way more CO2 than vegetal variants.


            The reason is that when we burn vegetal resources for energy, the carbon dioxide created by it being burned is captured into the trunks of trees and through the “phenomenal mechanism of photosynthesis” lets out clean air that we can all enjoy. This helps keep the CO2 cycle circular. However when we burn fossil resources, it’s like taking the carbon dioxide from whitin the earth and launching it into the atmosphere, making the cycle linear in nature.


            When the forest is regenerable and when its growth is something we can actually aid and regulate, when it is something that is so much more stable than even its other reusable counterparts, solar and eolian energy, which have been proven to be less cost-efficient, why are people still so against the idea of using wood for energy? Could we cover the whole country with solar panels and wind turbines?


The gatekeeping phenomenon.


            Dr. Valeriu Caisîn explains the phenomenon, “Lately, there’s been this trend, […] to present things in a different way than how they actually are, through the fact that forests are attributed exclusive properties.” He goes on to clarify: “The forest has an exclusive role to filter air, an exclusive role to filter water, to protect the soil and so on. This is not true, the forest is multifunctional, it fulfils all these roles simultaneously. Any attempt to neglect one of its roles will cause a crises. As proof we have the current (fire)wood crisis. This can also happen if we neglect the aerogen role, the water filtration role, which will also lead to a crisis. This proves that the forest must be treated like a multifunctional mechanism or phenomenon, which has a major impact on our society and it must be supported with this in mind.”


            Gatekeeping  and misinformation about the forest fund’s role has kept many avid ecology supporters from promoting vegetative sources of energy under the belief that using the forest fully is abusive to the forests, which again, is not true.


            At the same time, it is imperative to concern ourselves with the judicious management of this energy resource that is the forest. “The forest alone is not just wood — but it is also wood.”

            Dr. Caisîn shares that he firmly believes that “state authorities will need to think of multiple strategies to improve local heating systems, insulating systems for buildings and systems for using vegetation for the thermic comfort of the domestic users. This will reduce substantially the amount of energy needed for industrial use. […] Ideally, we would need natural gas just for the production of electricity.”











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