Conservation Carpathia has begun, for the eighth year in a row, a large reforestation campaign in the southeastern Făgăraș Mountains. They will restore degraded clear-cut forests, over a total area of 102 hectares.
The COVID-19 pandemic also represents a challenge for the forestry industry. Organizing the logistics for planting is much more difficult, but with additional health and safety measures being taken, plans can be met.
“This year we intend to exceed the goal of planting 100 hectares in the Făgăraș Mountains, within the LIFE Carpathia project,” says Mihai Zotta, conservation director of the Foundation Conservation Carpathia. “The targeted areas are severely degraded, and the likelihood of the forest recovering without human intervention is almost impossible. So many years have passed since the clear-felling and the degree of natural regeneration is, in some places, below 10%. We use a scheme of planting 4,000 saplings/hectare and choose plant species according to the altitude and reports in old archives. We aim to restore the natural composition of the forest, before Romania’s extensive ‘spruce campaign’, when deciduous forests were cut and replaced with spruce, even at low altitudes, in the pursuit of purely economic profit. Planting is one of the best ways to combat climate change! Natural forests are much stronger in the face of storms, unlike spruce, as we found out this spring, when large areas were affected by fallen spruce. We have 407,600 seedlings ready to become a new forest in the Nucșoara area (Valea Basa, Zănoguța).”
Since 2012 we have purchased over 800 hectares of forest aggressively cut between 2004-2011, and we have planted it with over 2.3 million saplings, with the help of locals employed as seasonal workers.
The Carpathia Forestry Association, under the umbrella of the Foundation, owns seven nurseries and a green house where the seedlings are cared for two to five years. This year we could not cover the supply of all the necessary saplings from our own internal sources and we had to buy 185,000 beech, sycamore and spruce saplings. Our rangers spend five years monitoring the planted sections and revisit with various maintenance tasks, where the trees have dried out or we need to cut the grass around the small trees to prevent suffocation.
“This spring, one of the challenges is the sensitive situation in which Romania and the whole world find themselves,” says Mihai Zotta. “We try to take all the necessary measures for the safety of our seasonal workers in order to finish the planting. Alongside our initial proposal, we also have a plan B, in case the pandemic imposes stricter rules: reduce planting from 102 hectares to 35 hectares, an area for which we already have the saplings available from the tree nurseries, prepared and taken to the planting sites.”
In parallel, another Carpathia team plants 2,500 saplings of willow along the water courses, preparing the areas where the biologists will reintroduce beavers, a key extinct species of the Southern Fagaras Mountains.
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 program (www.ec.europa.eu) and the Arcadia Foundation through the ELP program (Endangered Landscapes Program, www.endangeredlandscapes.org).
The content of this material does not necessarily represent the official position of the European Union.