What are the greatest challenges to wilderness in the Danube-Carpathian region?
The greatest challenges that we are facing are different ownership of the land in protected areas, fragmented habitats, lack of joint management of the protected areas, poaching and changing the land use category in some areas. Attitude of the public and stakeholders to the use of natural resources is also one the challenges that we are addressing.
What is WWF doing about them?
In the Southwestern Carpathians of Romania we get together people - protected area administrators, hunters, foresters, NGOs and users of natural resources to understand better each sector, to understand the importance of nature conservation and each stakeholder's role for a sustainable development. We are a catalyst between nature and resource users. We are evaluating the wilderness status of the region through different methods and data. But we are also organizing workshops and debates, trainings and field trip events, camps for teenagers and show case business conservation models. We are always a watchdog for these areas making sure wilderness is well managed and preserved.
What are your greatest successes in wilderness protection?
Work is always giving results, in field activities or in meetings and negotiations, but one of the recent success is the stopping of five small hydropower plants to be developed in a Natura 2000 site designated because of water habitats and species.
How do you hope to see the future of wilderness in the Danube-Carpathian region?
Having a clear understanding of the Southwestern Carpathians wilderness is making us confident that these areas need to be preserved, very carefully managed and people of the area need to be taken care of. There are poor villages - opportunities for their survival and development are closely linked to natural resources. People of the region are the closest beneficiaries of the richness of wilderness and this should be the drive to their life.