“I learned about Fruška Gora for the first time many years ago in Rome, on a course in Yugoslav literature with Professor Predrag Matvejević.
Miloš Crnjanski’s “Migrations” was also part of the curriculum and I was amazed by the descriptions of the Fruška Gora mountain, which for me has become an almost mythical place and which was then just a long brown dot on the geographical atlas, in the green sea of the Pannonian plain.
When I moved to Novi Sad 15 years ago, one of the first things I did was climb Fruška Gora. Since then, the forests of Fruška Gora have been an ideal refuge for me, where I can escape to walk, read and be in the company of friends.
Last week, after a long break, I went back for a walk and, to my great surprise, when I arrived at the area called Fat Oak, I found myself in front of an eerie sight: a forest where deer used to run and birds sing, has been transformed into a war scenario, reminiscent of the destroyed forests from the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. There were branches on the ground everywhere and remains of cut trees, piles of wooden logs ready for transport, and the hiking trails – which have been destroyed by heavy mechanical vehicles – were turned into mud. These trails look more like trenches than mountain trails today.
Attracted by the noise of the chainsaw, I went deeper into the forest with my friend and we saw two workers cutting wood. As soon as they saw us, they openly threatened us and prevented us from taking pictures of the forest around us. Subsequently, they followed us for a long time, until we managed to lose track of them and escape. One gets the impression that all of this has nothing to do with the usual afforestation, but the illegal cutting of healthy trees.
I have never seen trees cut so radically in a national park, to the extent that entire areas are cleared and trails have become impassable. If what is happening in the Fruška Gora forest is legal, why did the workers threaten us? Why didn’t they let us out of their sight even for a moment while we tried with great difficulty to continue our hike (the hiking trail was destroyed to such an extent that we had to turn back)?
Why isn’t there a sign showing and explaining what kind of works are in progress? I am waiting for the relevant authorities to answer these questions and I want to inform you that I am not afraid of threats at all – neither I nor all those who love Fruška Gora.
By Christian Eccher
Italian language professor
University of Novi Sad
This post is also available in: Italiano