Governments’ inability to address energy poverty in Southeastern Europe is increasing the threat of deforestation, as illegal timbering is seen by needy people as their only chance for survival through harsh winters.
Until the governments in the countries address energy poverty which touches large parts of the population, the region will face the threat of massive deforestation, experts told EurActiv.
The hard-scrabble landscapes in Greece and Turkey, where a similar process of deforestation from illegal timbering took place decades ago, should make politicians in Bulgaria and the Western Balkan countries think about their enormous responsibility to preserve the forests, says Georgi Stefanov, climate and energy officer at WWF Bulgaria.
Indeed, the use of wood for heating is becoming more widespread throughout the Western Balkans. The countries suffered from the hardships of transition from a centralised economy to the free market, and in the case of the Western Balkans – of the successive wars that helped cause the collapse of Yugoslavia.