Protected Areas

Protected areas are key to preserving the Carpathians' outstanding biodiversity and in providing a broad range of services which benefit local people and society. However, there are still several valuable areas in the Carpathians which are not yet part of the ecological network, and many protected areas need to be managed more effectively.
Carpathian protected areas represent forest, mountain and meadow ecosystems which sustain an extensive and often unique range of plant and animal life. These exceptional ecosystems are the vital base for people's well-being through:
  • Freshwater provision
  • Air purification
  • Carbon sequestration / mitigation of climate change effects
  • Timber provision (sustainable, particularly in protected areas of the types IV, V and VI according to the IUCN classification)
Other benefits include:
  • Support for traditional cultures of local people
  • Spectacular sceneries and relaxation from urban life (for tourists)
  • Tourism revenues (for travel agencies and local service providers)
  • Terrain for diverse fields of research by scientific institutions
However, these benefits could be lost through some stakeholder interests which affect the management of protected areas and the surrounding regions. Activities such as illegal logging, uncontrolled infrastructure development, and the quick extension of monoculture-focused industrialized agriculture severely undermine these benefits, depriving future generations of the chance to enjoy the same quality and richness of landscapes as current generations.  

Therefore, it is WWF's goal to ensure the conservation of the Carpathian protected areas, and to simultaneously promote significant improvements leading to higher sustainability in tourism, forestry, agriculture, energy and industry.

In order to achieve this goal, WWF focuses its action on the following key areas:

  • Promoting the extension of existing protected areas and creation of new protected areas, e.g. through the designation of new Special Protected Areas (SPAs) and Sites of Community Interest (SCIs) under the EU's Natura 2000 Programme  Details on the extension of the Natura 2000 network in Romania can be accessed via the following link (in Romanian):
  • Implementation and dissemination of sustainable forestry practices by application of the High Conservation Value Forests (HCVF) toolkit which is based on the principles of the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC).
  • Organization of training and educational events for protected area practitioners and key persons involved in protected area issues. The aim of this activity is to improve the skills and knowledge of protected area-related persons to strengthen capacities at the level of national protected area networks: stronger and broader bases of professionals in each of the Carpathian countries will contribute to improvements in governance, financing and management.
  • Assessment, improvement and continuous monitoring of protected area management effectiveness in the Carpathian Ecoregion. At national scale, assessments have been carried out for the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania and Ukraine using WWF's RAPPAM (Rapid Assessment and Prioritization of Protected Area Management) methodology. In addition to this, a new tool, the Carpathian Protected Areas Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (CPAMETT), based on the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Management Effectivess Tracking Tool (METT) has been developed through which an assessment of each individual protected area will be carried out online. The inputs from the various countries and protected areas will be collected in a database. Progress will be monitored through annual assessments.
  • Carpathian Network of Protected Areas (CNPA) The CNPA consists of 19 biosphere reserves, 36 national parks, 51 nature parks and protected landscape areas, and around 200 other protected areas. Established in 2006, the CNPA promotes cooperation among protected areas in the Carpathians, facilitates information exchange and develops projects to strengthen the ecological coherence of the Carpathian Ecoregion.
  • Clearing-house Mechanism The Carpathian Clearing-house Mechanism is an interactive internet platform for people working in and with protected areas. It will be a comprehensive source of visualized information on developments in the Carpathian Ecoregion, ongoing projects, as well as a broad range of baseline data on protected areas.
  • Participative Management WWF is elaborating recommendations for Carpathian protected area administrations, which provide guidance on how to harmonize stakeholder interests with conservation goals.
  • Protected Area Values and Integrated Protected Area Management WWF is currently engaged in identifying the values of a set of model protected areas in the Carpathians, in order to establish a quantitative base which shall facilitate changes towards a more sustainable management of the protected areas and surrounding areas. This is a participatory process which requires the active involvement of stakeholders and is intended to lead to a fair system of benefit sharing and allocation. At a wider scope, these principles shall be included and realized in regional development plans. 
David Strobel, WWF-DCP Vienna
 / ©: Michel Gunther / WWF
Shepherd looking after his sheep, Gradistea Muncelului Cioclovina Nature Park, Carpathian Mountains, south-west Romania.
© Michel Gunther / WWF
 / ©: Michel Gunther / WWF
River flowing through the fir trees forest in Retezat National Park, Carpathian Mountains, southeast Romania.
© Michel Gunther / WWF
 / ©: Michel Gunther / WWF
Brown bear (Ursus arctos) running near Zarnesti in the Central Carpathian Mountains, Romania.
© Michel Gunther / WWF

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