The Southern Carpathians

Healing clear-cuts in Europe's last remaining wilderness

Planting Trees Icon

52,000

Trees Planted

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-

Tonnes CO2
Sequestered*

Project Summary

Romania's Carpathian Mountains are home to some of Europe’s last remaining truly wild forests and the largest population of bears, wolves and lynx. Sadly, this ecosystem hangs in the balance due to years of illegal logging. Our goal is to restore the barren clear cuts that threaten these forests. In partnership with Foundation Conservation Carpathia we are working to restore clear cuts in the Romania's Southern Carpathian Mountains.


Project Timeline

November 2018

Our project is launched to heal clear cuts in the Southern Carpathian Mountains of Romania.

December 2018

We supported the salary of a ranger for 6 months as part of a rewilding project voted for by our members.

April 2020

We planted our biggest batch of trees to date, a total of 20,000 Norway spruce and European beech saplings.

The Ecosystem

Tree species

We plant Norway spruce (Picea abies), silver fir (Abies alba), wych elm (Ulmus glabra), rowan (Sorbus aucuparia), European ash (Fraxinus excelsior), Norway maple (Acer platanoides) and European beech (Fagus slyvatica).

Conservation species

Brown bear (Ursus arctos), Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), grey wolf (Canis lupus), European bison (Bison bonases) and Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) are all present in the area.

Conifer forests and grasslands cover the mountain sides of Romania's Carpathian Mountains
By planting predominantly Norway spruce, we are restoring the high-altitude forests of Romania's Carpathian Mountains

True Wilderness

Protecting Europe's wild places

The Southern Carpathian Mountains in Romania have some of the most intact ecosystems in Europe. These mountains are a treasure of biodiversity and a shared heritage that should remain for future generations to enjoy peacefully.

Purple crocus growing amongst dried grass against a backdrop of snow capped mountains
Romania is home to some of Europe's most intact wild places

Ancient Forest

What makes this ecosystem special?

Old growth forests in Europe have become extremely scarce, the Carpathian Mountains represent the biggest unfragmented area of virgin forests in Europe. The Carpathians are home to the largest populations of large carnivores in Europe including bears, wolves and lynx. The area is home to an extraordinary range of endemic species as well.

Fungus grows in the understory of an old-growth forest
Old-growth forests are an extremely rare habitat

The Threats

The communist era

The communist People’s Republic of Romania formed through Soviet occupation of the country following World War II. During this era, thousands of people suffered under the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu. Romania's wilderness, in comparison, faired quite well. It was seemingly protected from the kind of exploitation experienced throughout other areas of Europe at the time and acted as a refuge for species that were declining across Europe. It is believed Ceaușescu, being a less than capable hunter, is the reason for the comparatively high number of bears in the Carpathian Mountains today. Big game hunting was extremely limited during this time, and permits were granted almost entirely to the Communist Party members. Unable to shoot many bears, his trusted aides also launched a re-population programme so that he had a better chance of killing one, alleviating them from his tempers.

Illegal logging & Clear Cuts

After the collapse of the Romanian economy in the 1980s and the fall of the Communist government, Romania's national forests were restituted to private owners. Newly privatised and communal forests have continued to be clear cut at an alarming rate ever since. At the same time, the democratization of hunting has caused dramatic declines in wildlife populations. Although there is rising awareness about the dramatic situation of some of the last old-growth forest in Europe, reforesting action needs to be taken now, as logging continues to destroy these precious areas.

A hillside is clear cut for timber
An area of forest in the southern Carpathians that has been clear cut
Heart Image

the team behind the project

Team Member

Matt and Duarte, Co-Founders at Mossy Earth

Team Member

Planting Team, Local Community Members

Sources & further reading

Peer Reviewed Research Section
  1. Forest restitution and protected area effectiveness in post-socialist Romania - Science DirectExternal linkIcon Peer Review
  2. The potential of large carnivores as conservation surrogates in the Romanian Carpathians - Springer LinkExternal linkIcon Peer Review
  3. Forest disturbances, forest recovery, and changes in forest types across the Carpathian ecoregion from 1985 to 2010 based on Landsat image composites - Science DirectExternal linkIcon Peer Review
  4. Molecular evidence for historic long-distance translocations of brown bears in the Balkan region - Springer LinkExternal linkIcon Peer Review