What are the biggest challenges for forests in the Danube-Carpathian region?
I would say that the biggest challenges we face in the region are related to keeping the balance between our countries’ development and the use of natural resources.
Forests have always played an important role in our region’s history and their evolution is very much linked with our countries’ development.
Historically, the forest management systems applied in the region had the role of preserving the natural heritage of the Carpathians, like virgin and old growth forests, and important populations of large carnivores.
The biggest challenge we face is to preserve these tremendous values in the actual context of the rapid development of our societies and to sustainably manage our forests to ensure the continuation of the balanced range of ecosystem services offered by them.
Adapting legislation frameworks to new realities is one of the most important areas of work for the WWF in the region, as well as taking into consideration climate change in forest management decisions.
What is WWF Danube-Carpathian programme doing about them?
We are an organization which identifies problems and works to deliver scientifically based solutions using a bottom-up approach. We test our solutions on the ground, working with professionals and communities, and always involving relevant stakeholders because we believe that the best solutions to environmental problems come from people that are facing them.
We work with communities, companies and governments to create solutions for fighting illegal logging, improving forest management, preserving high conservation value forests, and improving and enforcing legislation.
What are our biggest forest successes in the past 10 years?
Virgin and old growth forest protection was one of the biggest outcomes of our work and related to this was the recent inclusion of more than 30,000 ha of forest in the Ancient and Primeval Beech Forest of the Carpathians and other regions of Europe UNESCO World Heritage List in Romania and Ukraine.
We have supported Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for more than 4,6 million hectares in the region and have made the concept High Conservation Value Forest familiar to the majority of forest administrators.
We have amended the most relevant normative acts related to forestry by including responsible forest management principles and supported a better implementation of EU Timber Regulation (EUTR).
We have fought for improved transparency in the forestry sector as an effective measure to fight illegal logging and have helped to design wood tracking tools for Romania, ensuring citizen access to wood transport data.
In countries like Ukraine we have created platforms for citizen involvement in identifying illegal logging, which have begun to produce results.
How do you hope to see the future of forests in the Danube-Carpathian region?
I hope that our region will become a model of sustainable multifunctional forest management in which forest ecosystem services will be valued and taken into consideration in all decisions related to community development.
I hope we can find the balance between protection and sustainable forest management, and I hope that we can better integrate local communities needs into our work.