About Foundation Conservation Carpathia

Foundation Conservation Carpathia stands as one of Europe’s largest private conservation initiatives. It was founded in 2009 by 12 philanthropists and conservationists.

Their primary mission was to preserve vast expanses of Carpathian forests as protected areas for future generations. This endeavour involves the acquisition of land and the leasing of hunting rights, funded through a blend of private and public resources, with the ultimate goal of transitioning these holdings into the public domain as a permanent National Park. Encompassing the broader Făgăraș Mountains Natura 2000 site, Piatra Craiului National Park, and Leaota Mountains, this project spans over 250,000 hectares. This area was deemed sufficient to sustain significant numbers of large carnivores and allow evolutionary processes to take place. Once realised, this new National Park will represent a world-class wilderness, an icon for conservation in Europe and an emblematic National Park on our continent.

Romania boasts over six million hectares of forest, a considerable portion of which has remained pristine, characterised by expansive, uninterrupted mountain landscapes devoid of settlements, and surrounded by natural woodlands. These areas feature untamed rivers sculpting valleys, while iconic species like bears, wolves, and lynx roam freely alongside a rich array of plant life, including over 3,700 species, many unique to the region. With such a remarkable natural heritage, Romania is poised to lead in biodiversity conservation and emerge as a premier destination for eco-tourism across the continent and beyond.

Travel Carpathia - Făgăraș Mountains

Foundation Conservation Carpathia, since its inception, has been steadfast in raising aware­ness about the significance of Europe’s dwindling old-growth forests.

It has emerged as a pivotal advocate for protecting vital wilderness areas, promoting higher conservation standards, sustainable agriculture practices, and the overall well-being of communities. While initially focusing on preserving significant forested and pastoral lands in the Făgăraș Mountains, the Foundation has also undertaken extensive efforts to restore degraded areas to their full potential.

These efforts have included the purchase and restoration of over 1,991 hectares of clear-cut areas and other degraded areas, the planting of more than 4.1 million saplings, establishment of nine tree nurseries, and implementation of erosion control measures along 50 kilometres of former tractor tracks.

The Foundation’s work is organised around five key pillars: conserving and restoring natural ecosystems in the Făgăraș Mountains, managing wildlife and wildlife conflicts, developing community projects, and fostering a green economy.

The CARPATHIA project is complex and ambitious.

It includes:

So far, Foundation Conservation Carpathia has acquired over 27,500 hectares of forests and alpine meadows in the southeastern Carpathians in order to protect and restore them. The foundation continues to purchase forests which have come on the market to save them from logging and to include them into the protected area scheme. Also, the presence of the Foundation’s rangers, who patrol more than 75,000 hectares, has effectively halted illegal logging in neighbouring forests.

Unsustainable logging practices and exploitative activities have inflicted significant damage on thousands of hectares, leaving mountain slopes vulnerable to erosion. Forest management over the past century has, in some places, favoured economically lucrative spruce monocultures, resulting in the displacement of diverse forests. The Foundation is dedicated to remedying this damage and jumpstarting nature’s recovery.

A key aspect of the restoration efforts involves transforming spruce monocultures into natural mixed forests. To ensure the replanting efforts utilise indigenous seed sources, multiple tree nurseries have been established across the project area.

Foundation Conservation Carpathia is dedicated to safeguarding the biodiversity of the Făgăraș Mountains by protecting wildlife and ensuring the preservation of natural ecosystems. Through strategic measures like leasing hunting rights (in order to not allow hunting on the leaseholds) and implementing anti-poaching initiatives, including modern monitoring systems, the Foundation works tirelessly to reverse the decline of species like chamois, wolves, lynx, and red deer.

Additionally, efforts to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts in adjacent areas with human settlements involve providing local communities with resources such as electric fences and specialised livestock guardian dogs, along with swift response teams to address conflicts promptly. Furthermore, innovative compensation schemes for livestock losses and the reintroduction of keystone species like bison, beavers, and vultures illustrate the Foundation’s commitment to restoring the ecological balance.

Employing non-invasive monitoring techniques like remote camera traps and DNA sampling, Foundation Conservation Carpathia ensures accurate population estimates without disrupting natural behaviours. Through these integrated efforts, the Foundation strives to create a sustainable future where wildlife and communities coexist harmoniously in the Carpathian region.

The Foundation and its conservation initiatives have become an integral part of local communities within the Făgăraș Mountains, recognising their crucial role in protected areas. The establishment of a stakeholder platform allows residents to voice concerns and participate in park development, complemented by celebratory events highlighting the region’s natural wonders. The construction of an Environmental Field Education Centre underscores the Foundation’s commitment to education, offering programmes for schools, ranger trainings, and community events.

Additionally, an extensive National Park infrastructure comprising administrative facilities and tourism infrastructure is in development, alongside initiatives to train local guides and support sustainable tourism enterprises. Effective communication on local, regional, and international levels ensures widespread awareness and fosters community support for conservation efforts.

In order for the world’s remaining natural landscapes to endure, they must demonstrate their economic viability. Thus, it is important to create economic incentives for local communities, showcasing that a protected area offers greater benefits than the current extractive economy. After analysing the socio-economic landscape surrounding the Făgăraș Mountains, Foundation Conservation Carpathia identified eco-tourism, forest restoration activities, local craftsmanship, and food production as the most promising sectors.

The pristine beauty, untamed wilderness, and unique natural features such as virgin forests and large carnivores make the Făgăraș Mountains an ideal location for eco-tourism development. This realisation led to the establishment of Travel Carpathia as the Foundation’s main instrument for promotion and implementation. Additionally, a local food hub named ‘Roadele Munților – The Fruits of the Mountains’ has been created.

It aims to bring healthy, traditional products from the Făgăraș Mountains to consumers’ tables. Furthermore, the Foundation established the COBOR biodiversity farm spanning 500 hectares, showcasing how biodiversity conservation, traditional architecture, and profitable business can complement each other. The farm specialises in breeding the autochthonous Grey cattle for high-quality pasture-fed beef, alongside a horse livery and eco-tourism activities. This integrated approach minimises environmental impact while prioritising biodiversity preservation and enhancement.

Travel Carpathia - Făgăraș Mountains

You can read more about Foundation Conservation Carpathia by visiting www.carpathia.org or by accessing the latest reports at: www.carpathia.org/reports/.

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