Is off-road forbitten in Romania from the 1st of September?

A series of articles appeared on several websites abroad and announced that "Romania's off-road paradise" had been banned by law since September 1. It is true that a new Forestry Code has been published at this time and that it has some new regulations, but it is not so dramatic.

To explain everything more easily, we will write down some of the questions we received:

1. Is off-road prohibited in Romania?

No, but you have to be careful where you ride your motorcycle off-road.

The law published in the Official Gazette on September 1, from which this discussion started, is the one for amending and supplementing Law no. 46/2008 - Forestry Code. The important changes where motor vehicles are mentioned are in point 16:

16. In Article 54, the introductory part of paragraph 2 is amended to read as follows:
"2. Public access to the national forest fund by motor vehicles, motorcycles, ATVs or mopeds is prohibited, except for organized sports, recreation and tourism activities, which may be practiced on forest roads or on specially marked and approved routes, only with the consent of: ˮ

The change here is the add of the word "organized". From here we can understand that access to the national forest fund was already forbidden. The forest fund generally refers to forests. This change leaves room for interpretation as to what organized tourism means.

Then a new paragraph is added:

17. In Article 54, after paragraph 2, three new paragraphs, paragraphs 3 to 5, are inserted with the following wording:
"(3) In the case of non-governmental organizations access to the forest fund with vehicles, motorcycles, ATVs or mopeds is allowed only after signing a protocol with the administrator, in the case of the state-owned forest fund or with the administrator / owner in the case of the forest fund private property.

It clarifies the procedure by which non-governmental organizations can organize forest fund activities.

Simplifying things a bit, access to forests on unpaved trails or forest roads was already forbidden. And now NGOs to have access to forest activities must have the consent of the forest administrator.

There is no mention of banning access to public roads through forests. To find out which roads are public we use the ANCPI Geoportal.

Forest roads are mentioned in the above quote, but they are not in the category of public roads. More explanations about these are below.

Quotes taken from and translated with Google Translate

2. Are the routes in the Carpathian 2 Wheels Guidebooks in forbidden areas?

We informed ourselves before we went to map the routes and we did our best not to have routes in areas where access by vehicles is forbidden when publishing the guidebooks.
However, things may change since publication.
We have often made considerable detours to avoid areas with no access.
For example, when we mapped routes for the Off-Road Romania guidebook we found a route from Lake Siriu to Chiojdu but after walking it I found out that access from the south is forbidden, being a Natura 2000 site. Unfortunately only one end of the road is properly signposted. Here we looked for an alternative and we found a spectacular route through the Dealul Mare wine area.

3. Can I be fined even if I have not seen any prohibited access sign  or barrier ?

Even if the legislative framework is clear, the reality out there may be completely different.
Many roads where access is prohibited have no signs and barriers to show this or have makeshift signs and illegible text panels where they are not visible.

4. What do I do if I am stopped by someone?

Mountain gendarmes are the ones who can stop you if you enter areas where access is forbidden.
If you are on the property of a forestry district, you can still be stopped by the employees of that district. They should identify themselves with documents that clearly show who they are and tell you why they stopped you.
However, being a situation that they also encounter less often, they may not follow the procedure and ask you in a more direct language, what you are looking for there.
You always have to be polite and follow their directions. Most of the time, a wide smile and a polite language saves you from a possible fine.
I found out about situations in which the Mountain Gendarmes were understanding with people who climbed 4x4 cars to Vulturilor Lake. Drivers said they were unaware of the bans and received only a warning. But the gendarmes wrote down the car's numbers and mentioned that the second time they are found in the area, they will receive a fine.

5. What do I do if I encounter a closed barrier?

We never recommend crossing the barrier. Forest roads, exactly those mentioned in the new amendments to the Forestry Code, are usually closed with barriers.

6. If I come across a truck loading wood, am I on a forest road?

Very often the points where the wood of the forestry parquets is loaded are on the unpaved public roads. Forest roads usually start from a public road and go up to an area where wood is harvested. Access on these roads may be prohibited.

The terminology used by many motorcyclists includes the word "forest road". They actually refer to unpaved roads or dirt roads through forests and do not have the same meaning as the legal term.
We chose to use in our guidebooks the names of paved roads and dirt roads because they also provide information about the characteristics of the road.

The last question is a very sensitive one, especially for Romanians.
7. Why can wood trucks go on mountain roads and we can't ride motorcycles?

The answer is complicated, but from what information we know, those with wood trucks have documents to be there. Theoretically it should be so, practically we have no way of knowing.

We can find out if a timber transport is legal within the Forest Inspector application.

Article written with the help of Adrian Silindean