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Discrimination of the “Khashtalo” community: a “forest” Roma settlement in Hetea, Romania

The small “Khashtalo” Forest Community in Hetea is discriminated on the basis of their race and excluded from forest lands access and use.


The term Khashtalo in Romani language refers to "wood carvers" [4].  The Khashtalo community are a forest community [4]  and reside in Hetea forest in Rumania between water streams for generations now. The streams and the forest are also their source of livelihoods and survival [1] [2]. Sometimes the community sells forest fruits and wild vegetables to neighbours in the town [5].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Discrimination of the “Khashtalo” community: a “forest” Roma settlement in Hetea, Romania
State or province:Covasna
Location of conflict:Hetea
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Logging and non timber extraction
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Fruits and Vegetables
Ecosystem Services
Project Details and Actors
Project details

There is no specific project from the state or a private firm that affects the community. Rather, the case demonstrates a deeply rooted racial persecution against the Khashtalo Forest community, and broader assumption that they are Roma. The case furthermore shows how the Khashtalo are accused of stealing vegetables, chickens, and fruits from other non-Khashtalo neighbours; just because their race; or accusations of the community for not knowing how to manage the forest lands. The local government neither recognise them as true Romanians and does not provide public water and sewerage infrastructure for the community [1] [2]. (There is however an alternative "ecotourist" project). [1].

Type of populationRural
Affected Population:85 families
Start of the conflict:01/01/2017
Relevant government actors:The (past and present) mayors of the Hetea town.
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Tzigania Project explaining sociological – anthropological - environmental – and herbalist perspectives of the extremely marginalised community of the Forest.
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Development of alternative proposals
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Soil erosion
Health ImpactsPotential: Malnutrition
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Land dispossession, Loss of livelihood
Potential: Displacement, Violations of human rights
Project StatusUnknown
Conflict outcome / response:Negotiated alternative solution
Proposal and development of alternatives:Through a project based on ecotourism, the Khashtalo Forest community gained a recognition of a indigenous and community with high cultural heritage [1] [2].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Although the Khashtalo Forest community is starting to be recognised for their culture and relation to the forest; still the community is discriminated based on racial harassments and stereotypes. Also, the local government does not recognise Khashtalo as Romanian citizens and therefore no water nor sewerage system is provided for the community.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[4] Minca, L. (2016). On the Move: An Architectural Model Exploring Transportable and Improved Living Networks for Roma Communities.
[click to view]

[6] Raymond Wills (2019). Where the River bends. Forest Gypsies and their families. Chapter 4, page 92.

[1] The Forest Gypsies - Foragers of the Forest (description of ecotourism project)
[click to view]

[2] The Children of Hetea
[click to view]

[3] Romania elections broken promises
[click to view]

[5] Roma Day in Eastern Europe: Assessing Roma Rights
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

A newspaper article (in Spanish) on ecotourism
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Ksenija Hanacek, ICTA-UAB
Last update05/04/2021
Conflict ID:4288
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