Romania contains some of the largest tracts of old-growth forest left in Europe and is home to wolves, brown bear, lynx and over a third of European plant species. Large-scale, uncontrolled logging has, however, decimated the landscape. Ecologists call it the biggest crisis of nature protection in Europe today, and yet there is still very little awareness that “Europe’s Amazon” is becoming increasingly fractured.
Go Forest and Forests Without Frontiers are working together to protect existing areas of the ancient forest, restore degraded land, and rebuild essential wildlife corridors. The reforestation programme is regenerating previously forested areas through sensitive large-scale mixed-species tree planting (including fir, beech, spruce, rowan and sycamore), in areas adjacent to and buffering existing natural forests. These are areas that have been brutally clear-cut, located at high altitudes closed to alpine areas and where natural regeneration has not occurred. In these kinds of areas, intervention helps to bring nature back much faster, enabling the restoration of complex ecosystems.
The plantations will become part of the largest protected national park in Europe and be included in a Natura 2000 Zone (protected by European Law) through local partners. They will evolve into closed forests (over the first ten years), during which time the trees will be monitored and maintained (for example some limited cutting of grass around saplings until they become established, and cutting back invasive plant species to stop them from taking over in areas where they are not natural), but after the first years, there will be no more human interventions as regeneration will happen all by itself. Already, we have seen wildlife returning to the area, including lynx, red deer and a mother bear and her cubs who built their winter den near to one of our planting sites.
There are two planting seasons per year (Spring and Autumn). So far, we have planted 85,000 trees – we have land available to plant millions of trees over the next few years, help us to continue this important work!