Like a huge green crescent, the Carpathians arch over an area of more than 20 million hectares, from the Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Hungary and Poland in the north and northwest, via Ukraine in the northeast, to Romania in the southeast and Serbia in southwest. At the southern end of the mountains in Romania, an initiative is underway to create one of Europe’s largest wilderness landscapes south of the Arctic Circle. With a backbone of more than 1 million hectares of protected areas already in place, rich wildlife, large intact forests, a high concentration of biodiversity, un-fragmented landscapes, wild rivers, and large mosaic landscapes shaped by sustainable farming practices, there is a unique opportunity to realise this vision.
The starting point is in three areas – the Tarcu Mountains Natura 2000 Site, the Domogled-Valea Cernei National Park, and the Mehedinti Plateau Geopark – which together cover around 225,000 ha. Ranging from the 2,196 m peak of Mount Tarcu in the north, to the Danube River at 150 m in the south, the area covers a wide variety of ecosystems – alpine meadows and grasslands, old beech and fir forests, steep cliff formations, and undulating mosaic landscapes with open grasslands intersected by woodlands (with a mixture of deciduous tree species, including oak) closer to the Danube. With dramatic, steep cliffs, deep canyons, waterfalls and untamed smaller rivers, it is a very attractive part of Romania and the Carpathians.