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TENT continues support of FCC in Romania – Europe's biodiversity capital

Romania has over 6 million hectares of forests, out of which a significant portion is still virgin: large, unfragmented mountain areas of stunning beauty, surrounded by natural forests; untamed rivers with the energy to shape valleys; bears, wolves, and lynx, which are still commonly seen in their natural environment; and over 3,700 plant species, many of them endemic to the region. We're passionate about the protection of this abundant biodiversity, and that's why we support the work of FCC in the Southern Carpathian mountains.

Romania tops all the environmental credentials: It has the largest surface of virgin forests, the biggest populations of large carnivores, the highest biodiversity, and the largest unfragmented forests left in the European Union. Amidst the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, nature on this scale is an elemental treasure – one which many other countries in Europe have lost. While natural resources across the world are being destroyed at an alarming rate, Romania still harbours the most important conservation areas with an enormous potential for green economic development.

However, Romanian forests are still under threat. After the fall of communism, what were nationalised forests began a process of restitution into the hands of private owners. This triggered widespread clear-cuts; many thousands of hectares of forests were illegally logged, the timber harvested and the old-growth diverse native forests cleared for monoculture plantations.

A hotspot of forest loss over the years has been the Romanian Carpathians. But one project here is a glistening example of how conservation action can effectively protect and restore wilderness areas, while becoming an engine for community empowerment and enterprise.


Since our earliest beginnings, TENT has been a supporter of the NGO FCC. Formed in 2009 by 12 philanthropists and now led by Barbara and Christoph Promberger, the project aims to create a world class wilderness reserve, ultimately donating protected and restored lands to the people as a new National Park. ​​

At TENT, we've renewed our agreement with FCC to support the recovery, protection and restoration of Romanian wilderness in the coming years.


Protecting and reintroducing native species

Despite overhunting throughout the last 20 years, the Făgăraș Mountains still harbour important populations of large carnivores and ungulates. Wolves, bears and lynx – key predators regulating the flow of energy through the food chain – are still present in viable numbers. FCC is working to safeguard this biodiversity and is currently active throughout four wildlife management units. As well as monitoring populations, and building coexistence between local communities and wildlife, FCC has created an area of 65,000 hectares that today exists without trophy and sports hunting. Together with neighbouring Piatra Craiului National Park, a total of 80,000 hectares is now without sport or trophy hunting.

FCC work to protect these crucial species while reintroducing those that play a ‘keystone’ role in the Carpathian ecosystem. FCC has undertaken to reintroduce bison and beavers to the Făgăraș Mountains. In May 2020, eight bison were reintroduced to the Făgăraș mountains and are now roaming freely. 

The European Nature Trust is committed to supporting FCC in further reintroduction work. Our support for FCC will help to: support the reintroduction of critical vulture populations, which will reinstitute the disease-clearing and carbon sequestering role of scavengers; expand the coverage of bison reintroduction sites in the Făgăraș Mountains and beyond, enriching forest habitat diversity; and uplift beaver reintroduction efforts, enriching freshwater habitats.

The European bison – a species once lost, and now reintroduced, to the Southern Carpathians. Photo: FCC

Restoring habitats

Unsustainable logging practises have damaged thousands of hectares of forests in the Romanian Carpathians, leaving mountain soils unprotected and exposed to erosion. As forests were restituted into private hands, monoculture plantations of commercially valuable but ecologically poor Sitka Spruce have replaced native, biodiverse old-growth forests. The mass extraction of timber from the forests throughout the last decade has not equitably benefitted local communities – it is mainly companies from Western countries that exploit the mountain forests and draw enormous profits, which rarely feeds back into the local economy.

FCC are committed to restoring the forests and grasslands of old, and TENT supports this mission. The organisation has so far purchased over 830 hectares of clear-cuts, some of which have been cut more than ten years ago. Since 2013, FCC replants annually ca. 100 hectares of native forest. TENT’s support of FCC will help to continue this effort, as well as to expand restoration work in key regions along rivers, for example, by helping restore vegetation and tree cover in riverbank areas. This approach to restoration is proven to cool freshwater ecosystem, helping to mitigate the impacts of climate change on biodiversity amidst rising summer temperatures. You can discover here how TENT is supporting similar work in the Highlands of Scotland.

The Carpathia project is now well on the way to fulfilling its goal by creating a new National Park for Romania. Critical to the project's success has been the establishment of new conservation enterprises, which have economically uplifted local communities, improving coexistence by generating new economic activities that benefit nature and people alike.

FCC and its supporters have for the last decade, established a green economy that is already bringing sustainable livelihoods for the communities around the proposed park. Enterprise opportunities – including ecotourism, sustainable forestry, organic agriculture, renewable energy and related services – are rapidly demonstrating that conservation is not only compatible with economic development, but a key driver of it.

In the coming years, TENT will continue our partnership with FCC, joining a shared vision for a new National Park in the Southern Carpathians.

visit FCC's website 

Learn more and consider making a donation to further support FCC's work.
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