Unlike many European countries, Romania still boasts a high proportion of intact natural ecosystems. Almost half of its land area is covered with natural and semi-natural landscapes, including one of the largest remaining areas of undisturbed forest in the continent.
The quality of Romania’s natural landscapes is highlighted by the astonishing variety of wildlife found in the country, which includes a third of Europe’s brown bears as well as 25% of its wolves. Major grasslands, flower meadows, caves and an extensive network of rivers (including a significant part of Europe’s largest wetland, the Danube delta) add to the country’s environmental richness.
Romania’s success in preserving and enhancing its natural environment is in part thanks to the traditional farming practices that are still being used in much of the country. These low-intensity methods have created a patchwork landscape that has enabled biodiversity to flourish.
However, as one of the poorest countries in the European Union (EU), Romania also faces the challenge of developing its economy while managing its natural resources sustainably. Its accession to the EU has opened up new avenues for development funding, but unless carefully managed this could increase the pressure on Romania’s biodiversity through inappropriate infrastructure development and intensified agriculture.
To add to these difficulties, Romania’s protected areas still face shortages in the funding and technical capacity needed for effective management.