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Romania is home to a huge variety of habitats – from the Danube Delta, a World Heritage Site, to virgin forests. It contains vast expanses of natural and semi-natural ecosystems and has one of the largest areas of undisturbed forest in Europe. Grasslands, subterranean caves and an extensive river network add to the richness of the country’s park system.
However Romania faces a huge challenge to protect these natural treasures in the face of increasing economic growth and industrial demand for land. Although the country has an extensive protected area network, the protected area administrations managing these parks are relatively young and urgently need to improve their capacity to manage these living landscapes.
Thanks to renewed funding from The Mitsubishi Corporation Fund for Europe and Africa and the Association for Cultural Exchange, Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is working with our partners to develop the first protected area capacity building programme in Romania. We have made substantial progress over the last two years to establish this long-term programme which aims to improve capacity, skills and knowledge for ‘protected area’ conservation management in Romania, The project is developing a much-needed capacity building and training programme for protected area staff – the custodians of Romania’s threatened species and wild places.
Most importantly, the project has helped establish a completely new Romanian institution, ProPark – Foundation for Protected Areas – to deliver the programme. The Foundation is growing as the training programme develops. It has already developed interesting new training modules and has held ‘start up’ training workshops involving protected area practitioners on key conservation topics relevant to Romania’s protected areas. In turn, these practitioners will share their new skills and learning with colleagues and partners on the ground – multiplying the impact of the original training and spreading skills, knowledge and expertise.
So far, over 150 people have been trained in topics including “Visitor Management in and around Protected Areas” and “Management of Protected Areas – an introductory course for custodians”. The response to the training has been positive with over 80 per cent of participants finding the sessions helpful in their current work. The project is now in its second phase, focusing on “training the trainers” to teach the various modules and securing accreditation of the modules.
FFI and partners are working to ensure this project leaves a lasting legacy for conservation and community engagement in Romania. Ideally, Romania’s protected areas should become models of living, working landscapes that can demonstrate the real meaning of sustainable development, whilst conserving the exceptional natural and cultural heritage.
Fauna & Flora International and partners are working to ensure this project leaves a lasting legacy for conservation and community engagement in Romania.
Projects Manager, Eurasia, Fauna & Flora International