At the initiative of the 10 Million Trees Foundation, local civil organizations organized a peaceful demonstration in front of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences at 6:00pm on Wednesday to jointly demand that the government withdraw the decree “that destroys our forests, which is still in force.” The Széchenyi Square location was chosen due to having one of the oldest trees in Budapest.
Citing skyrocketing energy prices and the increased demand for firewood, the government eased regulations around logging by eliminating a number of environmental restrictions in a decree published on August 4.
An earlier public demonstration against the decree was held last Friday. Sensing the outrage, the government first tried to explain that the firewood decree would only renew the forests, then communicated that the decree had been misinterpreted, and that the government did not intend to cut down protected forests.
On Tuesday, Minister of Agriculture István Nagy issued an order stating that clear-cutting could not be carried out on state-owned Natura 2000 forests or environmentally-protected forests where there are indiginous species.
However, Minister Nagy’s ministerial order does not overrule the original government decree, and the several thousands of protestors on the square demanded that the government rescind its August 4 decree.
Among the speakers at the demonstration, Katalin Rodics from Greenpeace said that István Nagy’s order was a communication trick, as it did not override the government decree and was only intended to prevent people from coming to the protest on Wednesday.