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© Michel Gunther
No wonder we call the Danube-Carpathian region the Green Heart of Europe. Around 60% of European pristine forests outside of northern Scandinavia and Russia are in the Carpathian and Balkan mountains of the region. Among them are the primeval beech forests stretching across Eastern Slovakia and Western Ukraine. They have been included in the UNESCO list of world heritage sites.

And that’s not all - the Southwestern Carpathians in Romania have been identified as one of the largest remaining area of intact forest in Europe. Wilderness it is, and also home to two-thirds of Europe’s populations of large carnivores, including brown bears, wolves and lynx.

Unfortunately, unsustainable natural resources use and management practices, and illegal logging pose major threats. Add to that fragmentation and destruction of habitats through infrastructure development of roads and ski resorts. And then there is poor law enforcement in the former Communist countries. 
Our solutions

The primeval beech forests of the Eastern Carpathians in Slovakia and Ukraine are characterised not ... rel= © Juraj Vysoky

Protection:  We want to ensure that all remaining virgin and old growth forests in the Carpathians and Balkan Mountains are preserved.

To achieve this, we are pushing for special and priority recognition of virgin and old growth forest in the national legislation in Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Slovakia, as well as in the secondary regulations and forestry plans. We base our efforts on EU and national legislation as well as on the Convention for the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathians (also known as the Carpathian Convention).

We are also addressing illegal logging, which is a major problem in many countries in our region. We are working with governments and relevant authorities to ensure effective implementation of the EU Timber Regulation.

Sustainable management: We want to ensure that at least one third of all forests in the region are sustainably managed through close to nature forestry practices and responsible management of High Conservation Value Forests (HCVF).

To achieve this, we are promoting close to nature forest management, including through Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, for at least 9 million hectares of forest (currently there are more than 8 million ha). We have played a major role with support from IKEA [link to project pages] in promoting responsible forest management and led efforts to identify High Conservation Value Forests so that they can receive protection.

Knowledge transfer: We also share our knowledge and best practices in responsible forest management with other countries and stakeholders in Europe.


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