Endangered Landscapes Programme

SCOPE OF PROJECT

Creation of a wilderness reserve in the Southern Carpathian Mountains, Romania

The project aims to create a world-class wilderness reserve in the Southern Carpathians, large enough to allow natural processes to take place, to benefit biodiversity and local communities, and to serve as a model for a future National Park movement in Romania.

The most ambitious objective is developing social sensitivity to conservation issue while at the same time finding solutions to problems on the local communities’ agenda.

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OBJECTIVES

O.1

Restore ecosystem processes for forest and grassland habitats and wildlife on an area of at least 50,000 ha in the wider Făgăraș Mountains.

O.2

Develop a human – wildlife resolution programme focusing on damage prevention and a rapid response team with the Romanian Gendarmerie.

O.3

Reintroduce missing species such as bison and beaver to contribute to natural processes and increase the attractiveness of the area.

O.4

A new economy based on conservation is established within the next 5 years in the Southern Carpathians, through entrepreneurial training for locals and working together in developing green businesses.

O.5

The wilderness reserve receives national and international recognition and is treated as a model for the development of protected areas.

ACTIONS AND MEANS

Conservation and restoration

Conservation activities are focusing on restoration of 350 ha of clear felled areas and erosion control where human activities altered the natural soil.

We are continuing the spruce reconversion programme in our properties, were forest management plans, back in 60’s, shows a mixture of tree composition similar to the natural type. We want to bring back these forests to stimulate natural processes to develop.

River habitats are important for us too. They are cleaning our waters and play an important role in flood prevention. We intend to restore 40 km along mountain streams by planting riparian forest vegetation and remove invasive alien species.

Also in terms of conservation activities, we are preoccupied by alpine habitats restoration, as we intend to remove the species which became invasive following overgrazing and soil enrichment and we will replant dwarf pine and juniper on 30 ha each year.

Human-wildlife conflict resolution programme

Wildlife often interact with human activities and prey on livestock or damage crops. Exposed small farms in the Game Units managed by FCC, will be equipped with electric fences and bear defence sprays along with pure-breed Carpatin guarding dogs from our kennel.

More, we will establish a rapid response team, adequately trained and equipped which can intervene in human-wildlife conflicts at any time. The team will be ready to react when wildlife regarded issues are reported.

Bison and Beaver reintroduction

Disappearing 200 years ago and reintroduced in the 60’s, bison is the largest mammal in Europe. It was successfully reintroduced in Romania, in three different areas and we will use the existing experience to bring one herd in South eastern Fagaras Mountains, based on a feasibility study.

Building acclimatisation enclosures or following legal environmental procedures will enable us to come closer to our dream of bringing these charismatic animals back.

They are contributing to enriching the biodiversity establishing new connection on the ecosystem and they can become a touristic attraction to the area.

Beavers too are missing from the Southern Fagaras Mountains and we want to study the favourability of the river habitats to determine if they are suitable for sustaining beaver families. Beavers are skilled engineers that shape the river courses, contributing to water purification and filtration.

Both reintroduced species will be monitored to demonstrate changes in their habitats.

Conservation enterprise programme

A large protected area should also provide benefits for people. The conservation enterprise programme is our goal to support and develop businesses related to nature conservation. We will be focusing on training entrepreneurs and providing consultancy through the process. These green businesses would also create jobs and bring significant annual revenues to local communities.

Community engagement

So far, protected areas in Romania were established top – down, without transparency and without a functional compensation system for restrictions of resource use.

In order to create a model of protected area, we want to involve people in taking decisions through working groups set to design the future national park.

ACTIONS IN DETAIL

A.1.0

General project management

A.1.1

Additional 10,000 ha have been secured for conservation in the wider Fagaras Mountains and put under non-intervention management within the next 5 years.

A.1.2

350 ha of clear-cuts are restored with their natural species composition and erosion is halted.

A.1.3

The riparian forest vegetation is re-installed on at least 40 km along the mountain streams and invasive species have been removed from 50% of the surface where they have been present before.

A.1.4

The process for the conversion of spruce monocultures into natural forests is initiated on a total of 200 ha in at least five different areas.

A.1.5

On 200 ha of at least 3 distinct degraded alpine areas natural processes are initiated and dwarf pine, juniper, and the natural alpine flora is re-established on more than 50% of the surface.

A.1.6

By 2023, on at least 50,000 ha sport and trophy hunting is stopped and is replaced by a modern wildlife management with a focus on human-wildlife conflict resolution.

A.1.7

By 2023, three herds of European bison and a minimum of 30 beavers have been reintroduced and roam freely on an area of at least 25,000 ha.

A.1.8

Wildlife populations are positively responding to stop of legal and illegal hunting and habitat restoration and increase by 25 % until 2023.

A.2.1

A conservation enterprise programme including at least 10 nature based businesses is established by 2023, providing jobs for over 100 people and creating annual gross revenues of 10 mio € and annual conservation fees of 800,000 €.

A.3.1

FCC and the local communities agree on a zoning of the reserve, which takes the local demand for fire and construction wood and grazing areas into account, and identify restoration needs and funding opportunities.

A.3.2

Five annual events that combine local traditions and conservation take place in the surrounding villages, organised together with the local communities.

A.3.3

At least 20 decision makers of the local communities around the wilderness reserve participated in study trips to model conservation areas.

A.3.4

At least 1,000 pupils of the local schools participated to nature conservation courses offered in the frame of school programmes.

A.3.5

An ambassador programme, both locally and nationally, with at least 20 testimonials per year (video clips, photo-shootings, posters, social media content, etc.) is operating.

A.3.6

A multi-sector working group to develop an overarching Făgăraș Mountains Restoration Plan and Road Map is established.

A.3.7

Regional contact points to support forest owners to obtain state subsidies or compensation payments are established periodically.

A.4.1

Recognition for the project has increased through site visits of at least 10 politicians and 20 senior staff of Romanian protected areas and presentations.

A.4.2

FCC presents its model on at least 5 conferences and/or workshops and establishes bilateral partnerships with at least 3 external organisations.

A.4.3

Increased percentage of visitors come to the project area for nature-based activities.

A.4.4

The idea of a Făgăraș National Park is widely known and positively perceived by the Romanian public

A.5.1

Capacity building (project implementation team).

A.6.1

Monitoring: Changes in the cover of the characteristic understory vegetation.

A.6.2

Monitoring: Changes in the length of riparian habitat restored.

A.6.3

Changes in the abundance of specialist bird species.

A.6.4

Monitoring: Changes in the composition and abundance of the characteristic macroinvertebrates and changes of water physical and chemical parameters.

A.6.5

Monitoring: Changes in the diversity and abundance of terrestrial arthropods.

A.6.6

Monitoring: Changes in the abundance of large carnivores and red deer.

A.6.7

Monitoring: Changes in number of jobs and revenues from sustainable livelihood activities and number of small and medium sized conservation-based enterprises.

A.6.8

Monitoring: Community resident attitudes, beliefs and public acceptance and support for protected areas, new environmental paradigm (NEP), moral identity and positive environmental and conservation-oriented behaviour.

A.6.9

Monitoring: Community resident attitudes, beliefs and wildlife acceptance capacity (WAC).

A.6.10

Monitoring: Interest group support, acceptance, beliefs and attitudes toward wildlife, wildlife value orientations (WVOs).

A.6.11

Monitoring: Number of forest owners successfully applying for compensation payments.

A.6.12

Monitoring: Visitor Motivations and behaviour focused upon nature-based activities.

A.7.1

Testing intervention: Impact of European bison on vegetation structure.

A.7.2

Testing intervention: Assessing a change in environmentally responsible attitudes and behaviour among residents and students of villages in and around the Făgăraș Mountains.

FUNDING

Endangered Landscapes Programme is managed by the Cambridge Conservation Initiative and funded by Arcadia, a charitable fund of Peter Baldwin and Lisbet Rausing.

Endangered Landscapes Programme:  5,000,000 $US