Achievements to date
There has been intense engagement with the local stakeholders, authorities and communities for over a year, to introduce the concept of rewilding and create support for the initiative in the region. The first agreements have now been signed.
- The rewilding area is part of the (larger) ”South Western Carpathians Wilderness Area project”, run by WWF Romania and covering 11 protected areas in total, plus some surrounding land inbetween. In 2013, that project received a large grant from the Swiss Cohesion Funds, so there is good scope for further expansion over time also for the rewilding activities.
- During this first year, the Southern Carpathians team has concentrated a lot on creating a support base for the rewilding concept in the area, through a series of meetings with local people, and meeting local and central decision makers, other stakeholders and carrying out feasibility studies, GIS mapping and planning.
- A main focus of the efforts has been to build the basis for one or two initial bison reintroduction areas, securing land usage rights for that and agreeing with local village officials about it.
- Agreement reached with the Romanian government on criteria for identification and inclusion of pristine forests into stricter protection status (Ministerial Order).
- A set of draft guidelines have been developed and submitted to the Romanian government about management of forest reserve areas that become affected by bark beetle outbreaks, seeing it as a key natural process and suggesting a non-intervention policy for it.
- Potential boundaries and zoning (core, buffer & transition areas) of key wilderness areas identified and mapped (GIS) within the larger rewilding area. The first core rewilding area has been defined, centred in Tarcu Mountains Natura 2000 site.
- Managers of hunting areas, game and forest managers have been approached about starting up non-intervention management measures (e.g. creation of no-take zones when it comes to hunting). The first no-take zone will be created in Armenis municipality, related to the bison reintroduction.
- A ”Technical Wilderness Group” has been established, with the directors and biologists of several Protected Areas from the South-Western Carpathians Wilderness Area, and discussions held about how to realise this large area.
- An inventory and verification of pristine forests areas has been carried out in the Tarcu Mountains Natura 2000 area, and a request has been made to the relevant decisionmakers for its rapid protection.
- A feasibility study on the re-introduction of European bison has been carried out, with the most suitable area identified and agreed for re-introduction in the Tarcu Mountain Natura 2000 site.
After an agreement was reached with the Armenis municipality to start bison reintroductions on their communal land, the first group of 17 bison have been transported into the area in the spring of 2014.
- Meetings with local entrepreneurs have been held to explore first ideas for business opportunities, and especially with the bison in mind.
- Existing businesses and facilities have been identified and checked (also the potential for wildlife watching hide sites).
- A series of stakeholder meetings have been held in the relevant villages and with local and central authorities.
- A photo mission has been completed, delivering quality imagery, also visible in the Southern Carpathians gallery on this web site.
- Roll ups, brochure, executive summary and fact sheets have been produced and the Rewilding Europe youtube trailer translated into Romanian.
- A ”Rewilding Romania” facebook page has been started up.