We live in complicated times for forestry. Times when professional values seem forgotten, the moral compass seems defective, and the trust of society, lost. We all wonder what needs to be done, what is needed to get out of this unwanted story, how to turn the page and write another page of the Romanian forest. One that will do us all credit.
As a rookie engineer, I coordinated a forestry site and – after a day of digging alongside the site workers – I had my first significant professional experience: the judgment of ordinary people. From them I learned that respect is earned by the one who plans, organizes, checks and pays correctly at the end of the day. Because we are all ready to come to work in all the afforestation campaigns that will follow, if there is a real leader at our head.
We need a real leader to really do the biggest reforestation campaign in the last 20 years. A leader who will clarify the legal situation of the lands that will be forested, who will find the necessary financing, but above all, who will have the skill and patience for 3 years to prepare the necessary saplings. Otherwise, patience is part of the nature of the job, and the fruits are reaped by the grandchildren, because that’s what forestry is. Only at the end of a successful project will it be time for press pictures, and the respect of the whole society will not be long in coming.
We need a leader to make the SIPOCA forestry policy project a real success. For the moment the project seems almost a failure, and the money spent. We need a leader to bring European funds to forest owners and managers, help owners increase the value of forest properties by paying for additional environmental services, help them understand the potential of their properties and encourage them to invest in them. Guarding, forestry work, clarifying the legal situation will be done by the owners themselves when they regain their pride, trust and appreciation of society.
We need a leader who will increase the prestige of the field he leads. State forest management should be an example of good practice. The efficient management, the protection of the natural treasure, the environment in general and last but not least the social and cultural impact should green the land scorched by political fights, nepotism and corruption of the state forest administration. Today things are as bad as possible: the authorities, the Forest Guards, Romsilva react Pavlovian to the manifestations of environmental populism, waiting patiently to reorient themselves when the field of forces changes its polarity.
A forestry expert said: “you can’t be a good minister of forestry, if you haven’t been a district head”. A leader is needed to break this curse. He would have at hand the forestry education, the research institute, Romsilva, the practicing engineers from state and private structures, professional associations, bona fide NGOs and the entire forestry body. It would just have to channel their energy and competence, show a direction and promote a vision. The ideas, the solutions, the studies, the power of implementation are under our eyes, everyone’s.
Over time, many ministers came to the chair of forestry leader who claimed that they would put things in order, but ended their mandates by declaring that they appreciate the work of the hard workers in this field. The album of former ministers is full, an extra picture does not help. The Superman costumes left over from former ministers lie sadly on the hanger in the ministerial cabinet.
Simply put, we need a leader who is comfortable in rubber boots.