Open Borders for Wildlife in the Carpathians | WWF
Open Borders for Wildlife in the Carpathians

Posted on 02 December 2019

Solutions to biodiversity loss in the Carpathian Region must include cross-border cooperation.
Our region is home to over a third of the approximately 12,000 wolves, 17,000 bears and 9,500 lynx living in Europe, excluding Russia. An estimated 8000 brown bears live in Central and South-eastern Europe. These ecologically critical, strictly protected and culturally significant mammals are threatened not only by illegal hunting, but also by increasing fragmentation and shrinkage of their habitats brought about by the construction of roads and other infrastructure. Despite challenges, in recent years large carnivore populations, particularly wolves, have expanded both within our region and to other parts of Europe - often putting them into closer proximity with humans and leading to new challenges.
 
WWF-CEE’s new Open Borders for Wildlife in the Carpathians Project (1.10.2019 – 31.03.2022) will address some of these issues by creating stronger regional cross- border cooperation on sustainable development, biodiversity and landscape conservation in the ENI Carpathians (border area of Hungary-Slovakia-Romania-Ukraine). The project partners will work to maintain and improve ecological connectivity between habitats, as well as to maintain ecosystem services for the benefit of local communities, regions and society in general. The project targets preservation of common natural values on a landscape level, demolishing the negative effects of borders on habitats.
 
Solutions to biodiversity loss in the Carpathian Region must include cross-border cooperation. The area faces chaotic development, with many species and habitats threatened by habitat fragmentation caused by unsustainable infrastructure planning. Since large carnivores (LC) frequently move across national borders in search of food and mates, the negative effects of fragmentation and creation of barriers to wildlife corridors requires a coherent cross-border solution. Transboundary cooperation is an essential precondition for preservation of the large and complex ecosystems in the region.
 
Harmonised data collection in Romania, Ukraine, Slovakia and Hungary will be combined with joint lobbying and policy actions for biodiversity conservation. The project will improve connectivity across 4 countries and will support integrated habitat management for brown bears (Ursus Arctos) wolves (Canis Lupus) and Eurasian lynx ( Lynx Lynx) by creating and implementing:
 
  • a harmonised methodology for identification and designation of ecological corridors in the ENI Carpathians, developed in a participatory manner;
  • a network of key ecological corridors of transboundary interest in the ENI Carpathians, (approx. 25,000 ha of key corridors identified by using the developed harmonised methodology);
  • participatory conservation measures for LCs and sustainable development of communities;
  • improved corridor functionality, ensuring connectivity for more than 300,000 ha of habitats by implementing at least 5 management measures in the RO-UA transboundary area (e.g. forest edge restoration, natural pasture restoration, prevention of human-wildlife conflicts);
  • improved stakeholder conservation capacity for ecological corridors through advocacy (that will eventually result in increased protection of key ecological corridors of transboundary interest in the ENI Carpathians); and an
  • increased level of information, education and awareness on the importance of safeguarding the ecological corridors for large carnivores in the Carpathian Mountains.
 
The project is funded under the Hungary-Slovakia-Romania-Ukraine, ENI Cross-border Cooperation Programme 2014-2020. Project partners include WWF-Romania – Maramureş Branch as lead beneficiary, the Slovak Ornithological Society/BirdLife, NGO RachivEcoTur (Ukraine) and Aggtelek National Park (Hungary).
 
For more information:
Alexandra Puscas,
Project Manager,
WWF-Romania
apuscas@wwf.ro
 
Miradona Krizbai
Project Communication Manager,
WWF-Romania
mkrizbai@wwf.ro
 
Background
The Open Borders for Wildlife in the Carpathians Project is the logical and practical continuation of WWF-CEE’s other work on large carnivore protection and the reduction of human-wildlife conflict in the region. WWF-CEE also cooperates in the LIFE Euro Large Carnivores Project which provides a platform for transboundary cooperation between organisations from seventeen countries seeking practical solutions for human-large carnivore coexistence. For example, beekeepers are being helped to protect their hives from bears through the erection of electrical fences around apiaries and traditional breeds of sheep dogs were provided to guard herds.
 
ConnectGREEN (2018-2020) aims to restore and manage ecological corridors in the Carpathian Mountains while minimising the conflicts between infrastructure/regional development and nature conservation. Project partners come from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Serbia. “ConnectGreen is the first time in our region when nature conservation and spatial planning are working closely together to find practical solutions for preserving our natural capital in the tangle of rapid and massive economic development,said Mr Cristian Remus Papp, Project Coordinator, and Wildlife and National Landscape Manager at WWF Romania. By reducing the impacts on their natural habitats, viable populations of large carnivores will be secured in the Carpathians.

The TRANSGREEN Project (2017-2019) created a new set of tools for road planners to take nature into account. The 360° approach to road-building and planning - technical, scientific and legislative – was launched on 25 June in Bucharest during the EU-level Pathways to Greener Transport Infrastructure Conference. At the end of the event, international participants contributed to the adoption of the Bucharest Conference Declaration for a greener transport infrastructure in Europe. The declaration calls on the European Commission, the European Parliament and the national governments of the Danube-Carpathian Region to preserve the beauty and richness of the region's biodiversity by promoting coordination between national and international institutions for a systemic integration of biodiversity policies and transport objectives, including financial aspects. At the same time, they should create a common and accessible database containing high quality data, tools, information and knowledge on biodiversity, spatial planning and the development of transport infrastructure to support planning and decision-making processes. Recognising that adequate spatial planning is the only approach that will support sustainable transport infrastructure will prevent the progressive isolation of wildlife populations and the loss of biodiversity. More here.
 
The area faces chaotic development, with many species and habitats threatened by habitat fragmentation.
© WWF
Harmonised data collection in Romania, Ukraine, Slovakia and Hungary will be combined with joint lobbying and policy actions for biodiversity conservation.
© WWF
Despite challenges, in recent years large carnivore populations, particularly wolves, have expanded both within our region and to other parts of Europe - often putting them into closer proximity with humans and leading to new challenges.
© WWF