Safeguarding the green heart of the Carpathians

The primeval forest of Strâmbu Bãiut in Maramures, Romania is unique in Europe for its biodiversity value, comprising the most well-preserved pure beech and mixed beech-silver fir stands of the entire Oriental Carpathian mountain range. The so-called ‘land of the wooden civilisation’, Maramures is a rich mosaic landscape of old-growth forest, UNESCO World Heritage sites, traditional meadows and rich cultural traditions including woodcarving.

Strâmbu Băiut Forest District is located in a former mining area, in which the closing of mining activities 15 years ago, has led to increased pressures on forests to meet the needs of local communities. The creation of business models and Payment for Ecosystem Services initiatives can help enable protection of natural values, while also providing local development.

In Strâmbu Bãiut, an investment in ecosystem services is an investment in the well-being of the forest, populations of key wildlife, and local forest-dependent communities. This work aims to conserve and maintain valuable forest habitats and related ecosystem services, contributing to the maintanance of an ecologically sufficient conservation area network (ensuring optimal habitat for large carnivores) while promoting sustainable local development in an isolated rural area.

By engaging local communities and stakeholders in sustainable forest management and conservation, and catalysing ecotourism ventures, this initiative can have a significant positive impact on Strâmbu Bãiut’s ecosystems, local livelihoods, and climate. Investors involved in this project can not only achieve financial returns but also contribute to building a greener, more sustainable future for the region.