Eradicating invasive foreign plants in the Făgăraș Mountains

By 17 September 2021 No Comments

Conservation Carpathia identified in the southeast of the Făgăraș Mountains, along 164 km of the Dâmboviței Valley, Târgului River, Vâlsanului Valley, Doamnei Valley and on two tributaries of Vidraru Lake, six invasive alien plant species and, in a first phase, carried out actions to eliminate them, along a length of 30 km.

Invasive alien species have become a growing global problem. In addition to the intensification of human activities, climate change favours their spread in new territories, creating ecological imbalances.
Through its work, Conservation Carpathia is concerned with protecting nature, restoring areas affected in the past by non-compliant logging and restoring the balance in nature. With this in mind, a scientific study was coordinated by Dr. Biologist Oliviu Grigore Pop, based on a standardized methodology, along the main valleys and their tributaries in the southern part of the Făgăraș Mountains, over a distance of 164 km. The study on the identification of invasive alien plant species and the quantification of invasion intensity, conducted by the foundation’s specialists, is part of the LIFE Carpathia project, “Creating a wild area in the southern Carpathian Mountains, Romania”, LIFE18 NA/RO/00108.

This summer, using the results of the study, Conservation Carpathia developed an action plan, based on which it organized actions, together with its employees and Romanian and foreign volunteers, to eliminate invasive alien plant species. They used only ecological means, friendly to nature (mowing, uprooting or cutting), and the activity will continue for several years, until reduction of least 50% of the extension of these species along the river valleys in the project area.
“We carried out a first campaign to eliminate invasive alien plant species along the main valleys and their tributaries, in the southern sector of the Făgăraș Mountains,along a length of 30 km: Upper Dâmbovița Valley and its tributaries (Tămaș, Dragosloveni), Valea Râul Târgului and its tributaries (Portăreasa, Bătrâna, Cuca), Valea Doamnei and Valea Oticului,” says Dr. Oliviu Grigore Pop, biologist at Conservation Carpathia.
“We focused on the species Erigeron anuus, Reynoutria japonica, Impatiens glandulifera, Impatiens parviflora, Conyza canadensis, Xanthium orientale italicum and we targeted, in particular, the areas managed by the foundation and the upper sectors of the rivers,” continued biologist Dr. Oliviu Grigore Pop.

Why say NO to invasive alien plants?

The riparian areas with an important ecological and landscape role, located along the Dâmbovița and Argeș rivers, have suffered a reduction of the surface and a degradation of the plant wealth, as well as of the ecological functions, due to several factors: forestry exploitation in riparian areas and neighbouring forests, grazing near rivers and reducing soil moisture, caused by climate change.

“The introduction of an alien species can be done intentionally by humans, without knowing the impact on the natural environment in that area,” says biologist Dr. Oliviu Grigore Pop, Conservation Carpathia. “The most common is the example of ornamental plants, such as Reynoutria japonica, which ‘escaped’ from the yard and spread, taking the place of other native species, valuable for maintaining natural balance. Alder corridors, with a particularly important role in fixing the banks and in combating natural disasters, are the most vulnerable to being invaded by foreign plant species. That’s why we started activities along these rivers. In the invaded sectors, they lead in time, to the elimination of the native plant species, characteristic of the area, so to the reduction of biodiversity and to imbalances,” continued Oliviu.

Some invasive alien species have flowers and can be considered beautiful, from an ornamental point of view, but, from an ecological point of view, they are harmful. This topic, insufficiently debated so far, will be discussed increasingly in the coming years, and actions such as those undertaken by Conservation Carpathia, will be ever more frequent at national and European level.
In order to try to solve this problem, Regulation 1143/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species has been developed at European level.