Photo by Janusz Maniak on Unsplash

The illegal logging in North Macedonia is a burning issue that is continuing to devastate the forest fund. Only in 2020, 19,282 cubic meters of wood were cut down illegally from the forests in North Macedonia, state the data provided by the State Statistical Office (SSO). The situation improved last year in comparison to the previous years, but it should be taken into account that due to the COVID-19 pandemic there were bans on the movement of the whole population in certain time periods.

Statistical data shows that a catastrophic year for the forest fund was 2019, when illegal woodcutters have managed to cut illegally 45,795 cubic meters of wood. In the last 5 years, but also during the whole previous decade, the information available through SSO shows that there hasn’t been a year without illegally cut at least 10,000 cubic meters of wood from the forests.

This deliberate destruction of forests is primarily directed toward profiting and most of the consequences will be felt by the local population that is living near the forest areas. The areas with planted trees are the only absorbers of growing emissions of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere and allowing the illegal logging of forests automatically means carelessness of the influence of the climate change that our country is facing.

The publication “The Devastation of Our Future> Forms/Models of organized crime in the illegal logging in the Republic of North Macedonia“, made by the Center for European strategies EUROTHINK, provides detailed data about the damages caused by illegal logging.

The document states that the last census of the national forest fund in Macedonia was carried out in 1979. Last year, 857 cubic meters of firewood, 62 cubic meters of technical wood, 7 cubic meters of other types of technical wood and 143 cubic meters of now confiscated wood pulp was cut illegally.

During the past decade, the forest police has confiscated 4 238 vehicles and 6 626 cutting tools and this is the data that the authors of this publication have come across to, Ivan Stefanovski, Aleksandra Danailovska, and Mila Georgievska. At the same time, they have revealed the data that only in the year 2020, there were 778 submissions related to cases and active cases related to illegal logging on part of the Forest police.

What is frightening is that the illegal loggers aren’t the only enemies of the forest fund which during this period is destroyed by wildfires, natural disasters, but also from the continuous shrinking of newly forested areas throughout the country.

All in all, the data provided by SSO for the year 2020 shows that the total area of forestry was 1 153 451 hectares, which is the biggest area in the past decade. The percentage of areas covered by forests on this soil is growing with the coming years, but the hectares of infertile forest soil are also growing.