The Fagaras Mountains of Romania make up one of the world's last wild places; they are the highest mountains in the Southern Carpathians, consisting primarily of old-growth unfragmented forests that provide habitat to hundreds of species, including wolves, brown bears, and lynxes. They are also home to over 2,500 plant species, many of which are endemic to the region. Throughout the past several decades, overhunting and logging have placed a major threat to the biodiversity of this region.
Ever since the Romanian government restituted public land to private ownership in 1989, private landowners in the Fagaras Mountains have been selling their land to international logging companies in exchange for small economic gains. Logging companies have been quickly destroying old-growth forests that provide many ecological and economic benefits to the local communities. If these forests continue to be destroyed, Romania risks losing much of its biodiversity and natural value.
FZS-U.S. is working with Foundation Conservation Carpathia (FCC) to purchase privately-owned land and hunting concessions in order to protect forests and large carnivores, and to restore degraded habitat by replanting trees. We are also working to reintroduce the European bison and beaver back into the area. When this work is complete, FZS-U.S. and FCC hope to turn the area into a large national park that incorporates ecotourism and provides economic benefits to local communities.
Long-term impacts of this project include: 1) Ecological benefits: protecting and restoring these forests ensures the survival of thousands of species; 2) Human health benefits: the Fagaras Mountains provide many valuable ecosystem services, including air and water filtration, food, medicine, climate control, and protection from natural disasters; 3) Economic benefits: by preserving the natural beauty of this area, we encourage ecotourism, which will improve the economy for local communities.
This project has provided additional documentation in a PDF file (projdoc.pdf).