This paper shows how the slow process of forestland restitution, which is unfolding in Romania since 1991 has eroded the threads of sustainable forest management by an insidious institutional amnesia (IA). The four symptoms of this harmful process (frequent reorganization, transition from paperwork to electronic media, fewer people motivated to join public services, and popularity of radical changes) were analyzed from the legal standing point as well as from practitioners’ perspective. After having described the legal process and the relative dependencies between laws and government ordinances we also showed that the three laws on forestland restoration (three fully operational laws and two bills submitted in 2019, one year before general elections) were produced by unintended policy arrangements. The legal loopholes of forestland restitution were described in details as well as the challenges brought about by nature conservation policy (Natura 2000 management plans v
traditional forest planning), and the overwhelming bureaucratic burden developed to deter illegal logging, instead of fully implementing a modern system of forest watching based on volunteering. However, the main cause of IA is institutional unsteadiness which was inherited from the communist regime, and cannot be alleviated unless more involvement of professional foresters in politics.
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