The establishment of the Carpathia Wilderness Reserve at the heart of the Romanian Carpathian Mountains is a unique conservation initiative in Europe. With support of a consortium of private philanthropists organised in the Foundation Conservation Carpathia (FCC), around 20,000 ha of forests and alpine grasslands have been purchased since 2009. The ultimate aim is secure 50,000 ha of mainly forests and integrating this area into the larger protected areas landscape of Romania.
In parallel to purchasing land, FCC has started the restoration of degraded forestland and mountain streams and acquired hunting concessions to enable wildlife comeback. Work has also commenced to introduce a new, innovative forestry concept in the buffer zone – “the Lübeck forestry model” – and to assist local communities to start up nature-based enterprises and protect remaining old-growth forests.
Although being subject to traditional human use for the last two centuries, the area still harbours some of the largest remaining tracts of primary, old growth forests in central Europe with many rare plant and animal species of great international importance.
When and how an external audit system can be put in place needs to be clarified. This, in turn, will determine the timing of the final VCA registration. We aim, however, to have the plan and audit completed by August 2019 at the latest.
In the future, the FCC intends to team up with the state, where the private land acquired by the Foundation would be integrated with a future Carpathia/Făgăraș Mountains National Park. There would be an agreement between the State and FCC that ensures that the original purpose of a National Park will not be violated and compromised. The VCA registration could then become a conditio sine qua non for the government and the audit would provide an independent, third-party assessment of the developments when it comes to the conservation side, giving FCC and all its donors the security that things are going right.