Biodiverse landscapes steeped in culture

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.

Romania facts
Country in Eurasia

Size (land & water):

238,391 km²

Population (2016 est.):

21,599,736

GDP per capita (2016 est.):

US$22,300

Romania is located in Europe. It is bordered by Ukraine, Moldova, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria and the Black Sea.

33%

of Europe’s brown bears are found in Romania.

1,000

plant species occur in the 1,000 km2 Târnava Mare landscape.

Our work to protect Romania’s biodiversity

Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has been supporting Romanian conservation since 1999, helping to improve protected area management and develop the long-term capacity of key protected area staff.

The focus of our work is currently in Transylvania, in western and central Romania, where we are supporting local partner organisations and communities to sustainably manage two critical semi-natural landscapes.

The first of these is the Zarand Landscape Corridor, which provides a vital habitat link that allows bears and wolves to pass between the Southern and Western Carpathian mountain ranges. Working with our local partner, Zarand Association, our work here is focused on securing and maintaining key areas of forest, ensuring appropriate site management under the European protected area (Natura 2000) network, and promoting sympathetic land management while also addressing livelihood issues for small-scale traditional farmers in the area.

The second of these landscapes is in the 85,000-hectare Târnava Mare area. Located at the heart of the Saxon villages region of Transylvania, this historic landscape incorporates wildflower-rich lowland pastures and meadows, old-growth woodland and farmed lands. The area has been shaped over centuries by traditional farming and land management to create a biodiverse mosaic of habitat that harbours over 1,000 plant species and 600 butterfly and moth species.

Here, we are helping our partner, Fundatia ADEPT, to build their institutional capacity and supporting the purchase of key areas of farmland identified as important for nature and biodiversity, which will be managed by ADEPT for conservation benefit in perpetuity.