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Ministry confirms forests are protected

A government decree expediting the felling of trees for firewood as a winter energy crisis in Europe looms is temporary and does not allow indigenous species in nature conservation areas to be cut down, Agriculture Minister Istvan Nagy said on Tuesday.

In a statement issued by his ministry, Nagy dismissed “false assumptions” concerning the government measure in the press.

He noted that the measure, which expires at the end of next March, will be applied only if this year’s firewood harvest is insufficient to meet demand. He added that cutting down native species in nature conservation areas or Natura 2000 designated areas remains prohibited.

Nagy noted that forest growth in Hungary has exceeded the firewood harvest “for decades”.

The opposition LMP and Parbeszed parties issued a statement welcoming the agriculture minister’s statement earlier in the day confirming a recent government decree on the felling of trees in light of a looming energy crisis.

In its statement, LMP said the party had achieved its protest goals, “we have safeguarded protected forests since the government has backtracked on its earlier decision and banned the cutting down of native species in nature conservation and Natura 2000 designated areas”. The party said “a lot more needs to be done to protect forests”, adding that it would continue to demand that the government repeal the decree.

Parbeszed said in a statement that “recent protests by civilians and the opposition parties have made the government realise the massive public uproar against its forest-killing decree”.

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