Expanding protected areas in Romania

Geographical location:

Europe/Middle-East > Eastern Europe > Romania

Local villagers on carts pulled by donkeys, near Nikopol, a port on the Danube River bordering Romania. Farming, viticulture, and fishing are the chief occupations. Bulgaria.
© WWF-Canon / Anton VORAUER

Summary

Forest, sub-alpine and alpine areas cover about 40% of Romania, hosting some of the country’s most important habitats and species, including brown bears and wolves. Logging and overgrazing, however, has led to biodiversity loss in many areas.

To promote long-term conservation in the country, WWF is working with local partners to help establish sites to be included in Natura 2000, Europe’s network of protected areas. This includes raising awareness among government agencies, foresters, forest owners and private companies.

Background

Romania will join the EU in 2006, therefore implementing the Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora, and the Council Directive 79/409/EEC on the conservation of wild birds is one of the main obligations of the Romanian Government. Forest, sub-alpine and alpine areas cover about 40% of Romania, hosting the most valuable and important species and habitats.

Recent changes in land ownership, with little acceptance of the new owners to conserve biodiversity values and the growing economic pressure on both private and public forests, pose a high threat on valuable forest habitats. Land abandonment or sometimes overgrazing can lead to significant losses of biodiversity on sub-alpine and alpine pastures.

Objectives

Overall goal: effective implementation of the Natura 2000 network in Romania.

Project objective:
Promote Natura 2000 implementation in Romania, by providing support for the designation of at least 50 Natura 2000 sites of priority forest, sub-alpine and alpine habitats on national level, based on close cooperation with Romanian authorities and local stakeholders, and development of management guidelines.

Verifiable indicators of the project objective:
- At least 50 sites hosting priority habitats designated as pSCIs by 2007 and as Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) by 2008.
- Management guidelines for priority forest, sub-alpine and alpine habitats approved by the National Competent Authority by 2009.

Solution

Sites of Community Importance (SCI) will be described and mapped in areas where priority forest, sub-alpine and alpine habitats types are identified at national level, thus contributing to the efforts of halting loss of these habitats, to their maintenance and long-term conservation.

Agreements will be signed with land owners and administrators by 2008 to guarantee the implementation of specific conservation measures of these habitats on the protected area model as part of specific management plans, including those developed for private forests and alpine pastures.

Possible economic and social benefits of the future Natura 2000 sites will be demonstrated in two protected areas, selected as model, i.e. Rodna and Ceahlau National Parks. These case studies will demonstrate the use of the recreational and ecological value of the forest, sub-alpine and alpine habitats as a possible alternative to economic exploitation.

Expected results:
- At least 50 pSCIs identified and described and adequate measures included in local and regional development plans.
- Forest management planning guidelines used at the national level include recommendations for special biodiversity conservation measures for the pSCIs.
- Proposal for compensation schemes accepted by key decision makers.
- Land owners and administrators do not oppose the establishment of Natura 2000 sites and are aware of the main management recommendations.

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