Purchase of forest – a step towards securing the future of Zarand landscape

Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has recently purchased 415.5 hectares of beech and oak forest in the Western Carpathian Mountains of Romania. The purchase of Vorta forest will allow FFI and partner, Asociatia Zarand (AZ), to demonstrate how good practices in forestry management can enhance biodiversity, protect habitats of European importance and enhance the services that nature provides to people (known as ecosystem services).

Romania has the largest area of natural forest in Europe, and the Zarand landscape corridor – located in south-west Transylvania – is one of the country’s most important and threatened forested landscapes. Its forest habitats, which are of European importance, are home to a number of mammal and bird species of conservation concern, including brown bear, wolf and Eurasian lynx.

However, this landscape and its species are under threat from changes to land-use, such as intensification of agricultural and forestry practices, inadequately planned infrastructure development and the loss of traditional land management practices.

The purchase of Vorta forest will allow FFI to demonstrate good practices in forestry management. Credit: Cosmin Dan.
The purchase of Vorta forest will allow FFI to demonstrate how good practices in forestry management can enhance biodiversity. Credit: Cosmin Dan.

Zarand Initiative

In 2011, FFI initiated a landscape-scale conservation and development programme to conserve the unique and threatened biodiversity, culture and traditions of the Zarand landscape corridor.

The initiative aims to enhance the natural and cultural diversity of the Zarand landscape corridor, a key ecological corridor that links bear populations in the Western Carpathians (Apuseni Mountains) to the Southern Carpathians.

Primarily consisting of beech and oak, Vorta forest also contains wooded pastures – a habitat that is increasingly under threat from land use changes across Europe. Working with local communities, who are still using the pastures for low intensity grazing and haymaking, FFI will encourage sustainable forest and pasture management.

Ranger paints a tree to mark borders of Vorta forest. Credit: Adi Ciurea.
A ranger paints a tree to mark the borders of Vorta forest. Credit: Adi Ciurea.

Cosmin Dan, FFI’s Land and Forest Manager, says, “The purchase of Vorta forest provides an exciting and challenging opportunity for bringing together forestry management and local communities to provide a case study for sustainable forest management that has community conservation at its heart.”

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