Romania road will destroy protected areas: WWF

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The Independent Online

A road in south-western Romania that has recently been okayed by environmental authorities will have "devastating effects" on a protected area, environmental group WWF said Thursday.

"Europe's last intact forest landscape outside Russia and Finland is about to get destroyed following the granting of a permit by the Romanian National Environment Protection Agency for the building of a controversial national road through two of Romania's flagship protected areas," WWF wrote in a press release.

The 19-kilometre (11-mile) Route 66A to be built through the Retezat mountains and Domogled National Park, in the Carpathian mountains, "is an obvious breach of environmental legislation," the group stressed.

"The building of this road is symbolic of the total disregard for protected areas in Romania," said Csibi Magor, manager of the WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme in Romania.

WWF cited the conclusions of a study carried out by independent experts from the Babes-Bolyai University of Cluj, showing that 2,552 hectares (6,306 acres) of intact forest will be compromised and the biodiversity of the area dramatically affected.

The environment protection agency told AFP the permit, delivered on July 6, "is fully compliant with Romanian and European legislation."

The controversy over the road started five years ago, with environmentalists struggling to block the project.

But two stretches of it have already been constructed, "illegally" according to WWF.

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