Czech Forests Under Threat: Rare Old Woods Ending Up as Firewood or Abroad

In the Czech Republic, precious old wood from the Krušné Mountains in northwest Bohemia and the Ždánický Forest in southern Moravia is being reduced to firewood or shipped to factories abroad. Much of this logging is done illegally, as highlighted by an investigation conducted by the environmental organization Greenpeace.

The Krušné Mountains, known for their ancient beech forests, are considered European Sites of Community Importance and should be protected. However, insufficient protection of these unique ecosystems and illegal logging practices are destroying these rare forests, which serve as habitats for numerous endangered and protected species, according to Nikol Krejčová, head of the Czech branch of Greenpeace’s campaign “Neká”

To address the issue of unauthorized logging in the Eastern Krušné Mountains, Greenpeace, along with the town of Horní Jiřetín, has filed a criminal complaint against the company Royal Pine. “The forest owner near our town has behaved outrageously. Without permission, they have clear-cut the entire southern slopes above the Mariánské Valley and completely devastated the area,” stated Vladimír Buřt, mayor of Horní Jiřetín.

The Ždánický Forest faces a similar problem. Despite local efforts, only one-tenth of its ten thousand hectares is protected. The majority remains a natural park, which offers the lowest level of environmental protection. Zuzana Veverková, a biologist and member of the initiative “Živý les pro živý region” (Living Forest for a Living Region), emphasized the forest’s importance in water retention, air flow regulation, and biodiversity conservation. It is even home to the rare black stork.

Greenpeace’s investigation has revealed that massive trunks from the Ždánický Forest are being exported abroad, where they are used in producing paper bags, cardboard boxes, and other products. Slovakia is one of the destinations for this timber.

Residents are disheartened and desperate as the forest they have known disappears. The sight of the devastated ridge and enormous woodpiles along forest paths has led many to stop visiting the forest altogether. The excessive logging has left long-felled trunks lying unused in the dumps.

Eva Jouklová, a spokesperson for Lesy ČR (Czech Forests), commented that only 10,000 cubic meters of lower-quality hardwood are exported to Slovakia from the Ždánický Forest. The domestic processing facilities are insufficient to handle this timber, mainly used in the paper industry to produce viscose pulp, high-quality paper, and textiles.

The destruction of these rare and valuable forests demands immediate attention and action. Preserving and protecting these ecosystems is crucial for the conservation of biodiversity, the well-being of local communities, and the sustainability of the Czech Republic’s natural heritage.