Association: Forest Management Company Manipulating Citizens and EU Institutions

By 20 March 2021
Association: Forest Management Company Manipulating Citizens and EU Institutions

ZAGREB, 20 March 2021 - On the occasion of the International Day of Forests,  the VIDRA war veteran association on Saturday held a news conference outside the European Commission office in Zagreb, accusing the Hrvatske Šume, the state-owned forest management company, of manipulating citizens and EU institutions.

Hrvatske Šume manipulates and uses citizens for unlawful forest work. It falsifies business documents to mislead EU institutions and acquire undue financial benefits, the association and members of its Green Unit, a forum against forest destruction, said.

"We are glad that there is a growing public awareness of the importance of reforestation, but the public must know that Hrvatske Šume receives funding for its activities, including reforestation, from both the EU and the Croatian state. Hrvatske Šume uses citizens, even the Croatian Army, to do volunteer work for which it has taken the money and which it has pledged to do," VIDRA head Vesna Grgić said.

She noted that "it is even more scandalous that the way Hrvatske Šume increases its biological forest renewal rates. In other words, it uses volunteer work to improve its reports that are sent to the EU," Grgić said, recalling that the Green Unit had on several occasions filed reports about this with the competent Croatian institutions. Still, they failed to respond, which was why VIDRA sent a detailed report, including on excessive cutting down of trees, to the European Commission, which is now checking the allegations.

Grgić also claims that since 2013, when upon its entry into the EU, Croatia assumed obligations arising from the European Directive Natura 2000, "forest destruction has been reported in forests protected under Natura 2000 that is up to 300% greater than in forests not covered by the special protection regime."

Grgić called for "imposing a years-long ban on any felling of trees, imposing the obligation of reforestation and punishing the perpetrators of the ecocide that has been going on in Croatia for years."

She also said that the Green Unit "has information on wrongdoing" in hydraulic fracturing in Croatia.

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