Romania’s Carpathian Mountains, Forever

Rock of the King, NP Piatra Craiului, Transylvania, Southern Carpathian, Romania

The word Carpathian appears, to my surprise, only once in a post before today. Likewise Romania is underrepresented except in passing, and was the focus of just one post, five years ago in our pages. Today I will correct the oversight.

FOUNDATION CONSERVATION CARPATHIA
Bears in the Southern Carpathian Mountains, Romania.

It is surprising because after I was exposed to the idea of rewilding, I started receiving The European Nature Trust’s newsletter. Frequently the newsletter highlights one of the projects they support, in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains. I have been admiring the photographs for years now, and silently supporting TENT’s joint mission with the FCC. Silent no more. Let’s all actively support the Carpathian Mountains of Romania being there forever, intact:

DANIEL ROSENGREN
A frosty morning in the Piatra Craiului National Park, Romania.

TENT is committed to the protecting and restoration of Romania’s natural resources through supporting Foundation Conservation Carpathia.

Romania has 250,000 hectares of virgin forest, mostly in the Southern Carpathians, which constitutes the largest unfragmented forest area in Europe. They contain an extraordinarily high number of indigenous species, one third of all European plant species and are home to the largest European populations of large carnivores.

With the fall of communism, Romania embarked on a programme of restitution and privatisation of its formerly nationalised forests. The ensuing over-harvesting and illegal logging posed a severe threat to the integrity of the Carpathian ecosystem.

Founded in 2009 by 12 philanthropists and conservationists, Foundation Conservation Carpathia (FCC) was established with the goal of stopping illegal logging and of protecting a significant area of Carpathian forest for future generations by creating a completely protected area. The project purchases land and hunting rights with both private and public money in order to protect all the area’s natural resources and wildlife. FCC’s ultimate intention is to return its landholdings to the public domain for permanent protection in the form of a national park.

THE VISION

Foundation Conservation Carpathia aims to create a world-class wilderness reserve in the Southern Romanian Carpathians, large enough to support significant numbers of large carnivores and to allow natural evolutionary processes to thrive. The project consists of the wider Fagaras Mountains Natura 2000 site, Piatra Craiului National Park and Leaota Mountain and forms a total of over 250,000 ha.

FCC is involved in creating a new, non-destructive economy around the Fagaras Mountains for the benefit of biodiversity and local communities. Once the project is complete, the Carpathia National Park should be an icon of conservation in Europe and a national park that could be seen as the ‘Yellowstone of Europe’.

THE PLAN

The FCC executive team has developed a plan for the CARPATHIA project which was approved by the Board of Directors in October 2014. It includes activities in the following fields:

Conservation & Restoration – land purchase, restoration, and protection; protected area status and management; and wildlife conservation, monitoring and tracking

  • Communication – communication, education, and public awareness
  • Economic Development – development of conservation enterprises
  • Infrastructure – the building of a multifunctional CARPATHIA Centre and the development of tourism infrastructure
  • Organisational Development – project organisation and project funding

FCC & TENT

The European Nature Trust (TENT) has been working with FCC for over 10 years to help purchase forests and alpine meadows in the Romanian Carpathians and to protect them as one of Europe’s foremost wilderness reserves.

TENT assists FCC in its work through direct funding initiatives, networking, helping to source sponsorship and through fundraising events.

We also organise trips to the project area, which directly contribute to the conservation work on the ground. Ask us for more information.

Additionally, TENT has been directly involved with other practical operations, from producing communications materials through to helping with a drive to take over management of the 200,000 ha Fagaras ‘Natura 2000’ area.

We look forward to continuing our support of FCC and the wonderful Carpathia project. The benefits of creating a wilderness reserve in the Carpathians extend far beyond the unique biodiversity of the environment – to the surrounding local communities and to the entirety of Europe, and, ultimately, the rest of the world.

FCC FACTS & FIGURES

  • Romania has over 6 million hectares of forests, of which a significant portion are still virgin

  • Romania is home to 3,700 plant species, many of them endemic to the region

  • FCC has planted over 2.3 million saplings and restored more than 800 hectares of clear-cut, degraded land

  • Over the past 10 years, FCC  has purchased over 25,000 hectares of forests and alpine meadows in the south-central Carpathians

  • FCC rangers patrol an area of over 65,000 hectares to prevent hunting and illegal logging

  • 80,000 ha of wildlife protection without sport or trophy hunting

  • Over 8,000 hectares of forests have been legally declared ‘non-intervention’ zones

  • The first 11 European bison have been reintroduced in the Făgăraș Mountains after 200 years extinction, and will be released into the wild in the spring of 2020; until the end of 2023 FCC intends to release 75 European bison into the wild.

  • TENT’s ‘Untamed Romania’ event in 2018 raised £35,000 for FCC

Read more here.

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