Conservation Carpathia, in partnership with the Carpathia Forest District Association, is launching this year’s Făgăraș Mountains reforestation program. The proposed target for 2021 is 100 ha, in two ecological reconstruction sites: Valea Lungă and Groapele, the latter being one of the most severely affected areas that the foundation has begun reforesting in the last 10 years.
With the financial support of the European Commission, under the project ‘Creation of a Wilderness Reserve in the Southern Carpathian Mountains, Romania – LIFE18 NAT/RO/001082’, we restore forests affected by non-compliant exploitations by replanting over 350,000 seedlings of spruce, beech and sycamore. Seedlings of native natural species come from our tree nurseries or are purchased from specialized producers. We are talking about a future planted area divided as follows: about 30 ha in the Valea Lungă area and about 70 ha in the Groapele area.
“The reality, as it is presented in the Groapele area, Făgăraș, is shocking and desolate for the viewer,” said Mihai Zotta, the representative of the Carpathia Forest District.
“The disaster and mockery of nature, mountain and forest, which occurred here 10-12 years ago, is of an unimaginable brutality, and after a decade, only the lower third has regenerated naturally, gradually, with pioneering species of birch, poplar, willow. The landscape is sad as you can see with your eyes over the forestless slopes, the fertile soil was washed by the rain, blackened stumps are witnesses of the devastating fire that probably wanted to hide the traces of people’s iniquity, the springs were hidden and it is surprising that we can still hear the sound of water, under boulders and grass,” continued Mihai Zotta.
In the two chosen sites, we carry out reforestation works (ecological reconstruction) of the areas affected in the past by activities non-compliant to forest regulation exploitations. We bring back the natural types of forest existing in the past. In addition, the eradication of illegal access roads, which are sources of soil erosion, is carried out.
“A natural forest shows a much greater resilience to climate change, especially due to the diversity of component species and the fact that in millions of years species and their proportions have always been naturally selected, changed, optimized and readjusted,” said Mihai Zotta, representative of the Carpathia Forest District.
Ecological restoration is a source of life and income for local communities
Ecological restoration work does not only mean planting seedlings in the affected areas. The whole process begins with the inventory of the targeted areas to see the degree of natural regeneration and the specifics of the natural forest, so as to build a forest with strong roots in history, but with even stronger branches in the future constantly threatened by climate change.
We do not plant just any species, which could be the best economic solution in the short term, but create a new natural forest and one more resistant to the impact of climate change and pest attacks. Monocultures developed in recent years strictly for economic reasons together with the lack of trees of biological importance (ash, elm, sycamore, mountain ash or yew) lead to an ecological degradation of Romania’s forests. We have made consistent efforts to bring these priceless species back into the country’s forests and once identified, they have been preserved and protected for future generations.
After making an inventory and replanting, the seedlings need five years to cope with the challenges that arise in the environment. For the FCC team, planting is followed by a difficult battle of cutting the grass around the saplings, sometimes erecting fencing, completion and permanent protection, until we enjoy the future forest. Over 200 seasonal workers employed from the local communities neighbouring the Făgăraș Mountains and over 50 rangers work throughout the year for the future forests of the Făgăraș. Most of the workers are humble people and getting involved in our project gives them a good opportunity to earn money constantly throughout the year, through spring-autumn planting activities and weeding in the summer.
About the LIFE Carpathia project
The project is implemented within the project ‘Creation of a Wilderness Reserve in the Southern Carpathian Mountains, Romania’. The main purpose of the project is the restoration of the degraded habitats and the application of conservation measures over an area large enough to allow natural processes to take place, to benefit biodiversity and local communities.
Financial support from: The European Commission through the LIFE Nature programme (www.ec.europa.eu) and the Arcadia Foundation through the ELP program (Endangered Landscapes Programme, www.endangeredlandscapes.org).
The content of this material does not necessarily represent the official position of the European Union.