Restoration

We bring to life biodiversity hotspots in the Carpathian Mountains.

RESTORATION

While safeguarding significant areas of forests and pastures in the Făgăraș Mountains was our main priority during the first phase, we soon realised the need to restore degraded areas to their full capacity.

Unsustainable logging and abusive exploitation practises have severely damaged thousands of hectares of forests, leaving the soils on the mountain slopes unprotected and exposed to erosion. In addition, forest management over the past hundred years has always favoured the economically more interesting spruce, and in large areas the original diverse forests have been replaced by poor monocultures. Wherever meaningful we are committed to repairing the damage done and giving nature a head start. As forest owners, we are of course bound to the Romanian forest law and act in all our restoration activities in accordance with legal requirements.

Overall, FCC has started restoration of degraded habitats in several areas:

  • FCC has so far purchased over 600 hectares of clear-cuts, some of which have been cut more than ten years ago. Since 2013, FCC replants annually ca. 100 ha.
  • The extraction of timber on provisional tractor tracks has left deep wounds in the top soils and after heavy rains, the water runs off the mountains and is channelled along these tracks resulting in ever growing ravines. Throughout the past years, FCC has restored the forest floor on over 25 km of logging tracks by filling up ravines with wooden debris, gravel, and soil from the ramparts along the tracks. In a last step, the tracks were replanted and such we have managed to completely halt erosion on these disastrous erosion zones.
  • FCC has introduced several of the missing species within over 400 ha of spruce monocultures in order to convert these artificial monocultures slowly back to a mixed and healthy mountain forest.
  • We have restored over 23 km of alluvial forests along the mountain streams with their original alder vegetation.
  • We have started to restore shrublands on some selected alpine grasslands, where grazing with livestock has been abandoned.
  • In 2019, we will start a programme to remove alien invasive species from the valley vegetation.
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TREE NURSERIES

In order to produce saplings from autochthonous seed sources for our replanting efforts, we have created several tree nurseries throughout the project area. Some are small under the canopy of old trees, other nurseries are bigger, but we operate all without chemical substances, weed manually using local labour, and have designed them in an organic and natural way.

RESTORATION MEASURES

Prior to replanting clear-cuts, we surveyed the forest properties to learn about existing regeneration and to understand the original tree species composition of the slopes. In this way, the restoration measures could be best targeted towards the original state. The lack of species with importance for biodiversity such as common ash, wych elm, sycamore, rowan, or European yew has led to a degradation of the ecological quality of the forests, and current development with land restitution gives little hope for improvement. To allow a re-growth of the original forest ecosystem, we raised the missing species in our own nurseries and re-planted the clear-cuts also with commercially worthless, but ecologically highly valuable tree saplings. So far, FCC has planted almost 2 million saplings and restored more than 600 hectares of clear-cut for the benefit of hundreds of other species that will thrive and prosper in these forests.

FOREST MANAGEMENT

Many forests have been subject to forest management within the past 100 years and thousands of hectares of mixed forests have been transformed into spruce-dominated cultures with low biodiversity. FCC also tries to re-wild these areas by carefully opening up small pockets in the spruce canopy and replanting with beech, elm, sycamore, fir, and rowan. Almost 400 hectares have so far undergone these restoration measures, including riparian areas, where spruce has partially replaced the extremely important alder galleries. The recovery of the alluvial forests will tremendously enhance the quality of the aquatic system for the benefit of a number of listed species such as European otter, hazel grouse, white-backed woodpecker, and grey-headed woodpecker, as well as numerous butterfly and dragonfly species.

POSITIVE IMPACT

Restoration activities have improved the quality of the forests, have created new living space for autochthonous species, and have contributed to a more balanced and healthy ecosystem. Repairing degraded habitats also had a positive impact on the public view upon nature: While for years, huge areas of forest have disappeared right in front of their eyes, leaving them with barren land, FCC has set out to repair the damage. Many members of the local communities joined in during the replanting sessions, which created a new sense of responsibility and pride for these forests.

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