The ecological restoration work and activities carried out by the Foundation Conservation Carpathia team in 2023 at one of the demonstration sites of the SUPERB project (Systemic solutions for upscaling urgent ecosystem restoration for forest-related biodiversity and ecosystem services) aimed at restoring connections between old-growth forest areas in the southern Făgăraș Mountains as part of a long-term process.
In this context, forestry work has been carried out to complete the plantings in areas affected by past non-compliant logging, particularly to diversify the composition of existing species, and forestry work has continued to restore natural forest types in spruce monocultures. A particular difficulty was the planting of dwarf pine, juniper and swiss pine at an altitude of over 1,700 metres. The aim was to restore a rare, strictly protected habitat and to re-establish subalpine dwarf pine and juniper. We also collaborated with experts from the University of Prague to conduct a study to monitor and evaluate ecological restoration. The results and best practices were shared at a workshop.
The event, organised by Foundation Conservation Carpathia, brought together representatives of forestry services and authorities, and included a theoretical and consultative part, discussions on the possibility of implementing best practices in other areas, and a practical part with a field trip to an area where ecological restoration activities have been carried out.
What happened this year in the Foundation Conservation Carpathia demonstration area?
Ecological restoration on the alpine fringes. Swiss pine reintroduced for the first time
For the first time, Foundation Conservation Carpathia has reintroduced the swiss pine to high mountain areas, at altitudes where only the most hardy spruces survive.
As part of the ecological restoration, 2,900 dwarf pine, juniper and swiss pine trees have been planted. Planting these saplings in the Berivoiu area, on the edge of the alpine zone at an altitude of over 1,700 metres, was a challenge successfully met by Foundation Conservation Carpathia’s day labourers and rangers, who hiked almost three hours a day to the planting site. Donkeys were also used to transport the saplings, as the area is inaccessible to mechanised vehicles.
Planted for the first time by Foundation Conservation Carpathia, the Swiss pine is a tree that plays an important role in high mountain areas, protecting the soil from erosion and contributing to the formation of soil on scree slopes and cliffs. The Swiss pine (Pinus cembra) is the only conifer in Europe that maintains its shape at high altitudes and can live for up to three centuries.
Completions in clear-cuts
More than 15,400 spruce, beech, fir and sycamore seedlings were planted in the spring of 2023 in the Upper Dâmbovița Valley. These were planted in areas where logging had taken place between 2005 and 2010 with lack of compliance to forestry regulations. In the autumn, workers returned to the field to continue the spring forestry work by clearing the plants that had grown around the seedlings to prepare them for winter.
Conversion of spruce monocultures
As part of the SUPERB project, this year Foundation Conservation Carpathia has carried out actions to convert spruce monocultures over an area of 77.5 hectares in the Tamaș Valley, and by the end of the year the total area will reach 96.58 hectares. The conversion is a long-term process, in several successive stages, that can take up to twenty years, and aims to gradually restore the mixed forests that existed in the area before the 1950s.
This ecological restoration is necessary because artificial spruce monocultures reduce the diversity of plant and animal species, are more vulnerable to storms, snow and insect damage, and have a negative impact on soil structure and acidity.
Together with the University of Prague, Foundation Conservation Carpathia is taking part in a follow-up study on the steps of ecological reconstruction that are necessary to finally achieve a natural and healthy forest.
The study involves collecting data on soils, vegetation, insects and small fauna from 30 sample sites in the SUPERB project, and then comparing the information collected at different stages of ecological reconstruction.
SUPERB camp for children
16 children took part in the camp organised by Foundation Conservation Carpathia in November as part of the SUPERB project. The camp took place at the Richita Nature Exploration and Activity Centre. For three days the children went on hikes, field observations, games and creative activities where they learned about ecological restoration, what this type of forestry activity involves and why it is important.
SUPERB (Systemic solutions for upscaling of urgent ecosystem restoration for forest-related biodiversity and ecosystem services) is a project that brings together more than 36 scientific and practical forestry organisations from 14 different countries, with 12 demonstration sites in Europe. In Romania, the demonstration site is located in the eastern Făgăraș Mountains, on forest properties owned by Foundation Conservation Carpathia.
SUPERB is a Horizon 2020 project funded by the European Union and coordinated by the European Forest Institute (EFI). The five-year project (2021-2025) is supported by 36 forest science and practical organisations from 14 different countries and includes 12 demonstration areas. The demonstration site in Romania covers an area of about 2,300 hectares.
More details about the project aici.