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Romania - Country Profile

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Status and Trends of Biodiversity


Romania lies at the geographic centre of Europe and possesses five of the ten biogeographic regions officially recognized by the European Union (alpine, continental, panonic, pontic, and steppe), making it the most biogeographically diverse country of the EU. It is also the only country of the EU to possess the steppe and pontic regions. The natural integrity of Romanian forest ecosystems is indicated by the presence of the full range of European forest fauna, including 40% of all European brown bears, 30% of wolves, and 25-30% of lynx. However, these forests face a serious challenge in the immediate future as approximately 30% of them are slated for restitution to families of former landowners, a measure that has been previously known to result in large-scale deforestation in favor of immediate economic gain. Agricultural lands cover some 30% of the country. Native steppe and steppe-associated wet meadows have been systematically converted to cropland and pastures. The extent of loss of steppe is not thoroughly documented, but less than 10% remains of some types of grassland and shallow marsh ecosystems that were once common in Romania, and there is an obvious trend of desertification on 20% of the total arable land. The new agriculture-dominated landscape and urban influences have negatively affected rivers and wetlands, which, combined with poaching and dredging, have contributed to significant losses in commercial fishing in recent years. Beluga landings are now only 20% of former levels and 17 of Romania’s 211 fish species are endangered, including all native sturgeons. Romania’s Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve, home of Europe’s second largest wetland, is the 22nd largest protected area in the world and the 3rd largest in Europe. It contains the greatest reed beds expanse worldwide and one of the worlds’ largest wet habitat zones. The Danube Delta is the only delta in the world to have been declared as a UNESCO MAB Biosphere Reserve.

National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan

Major features of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan

In order of priority, the biodiversity objectives established for Romania include: the development of the legislative framework and institutional capacity; the organization of the national network of protected areas; the conservation of species with a high economic value; the integration of the NBSAP into national, sectoral and local strategies and policies; and the protection, conservation and restoration of biodiversity outside protected areas and biodiversity specific to agro-systems. Actions to be taken are divided into three possible timeframes, 1-5 years, 5-10 years and 5-20 years. Short-term actions include: the development and implementation of detailed management plans in 1-2 national parks or reserves; establishment of the national network of protected areas; reintroduction of key species extirpated from Romania; completion of a biodiversity inventory of the primary types of ecosystems; and conduction of various cost-benefit analyses.

Implementation of the Convention

Measures Taken to Achieve the 2010 Target

Reintroduction of extirpated species is being implemented, with the beavers now reaching population levels of 200-300 individuals and the alpine marmot now having around 450-500 individuals. Other protection projects fall under the Life Natura banner and include the in-situ conservation of the meadow viper and a program for the conservation of subterranean habitats for bats in the South-West Carpathians.

Conservation of forest genetic diversity is being addressed through a National Catalogue of forest seed reserves and a National Catalogue of basic genetic resources for reforestation. In addition, the management of forests in Romania gives first priority to natural regeneration to promote the best conservation of genetic diversity, followed by the use of local seeds for artificial regeneration. The basic principle applied in forest management is continuity, implying the maintenance or improvement of the goods and services offered by the forests. Logging and harvesting of forest products is quantified in a way that will not have long term impacts on the productive capacity and the protection of forests at the level of each management unit.

To offset the pressures of poverty, unemployment and changes in forest ownership on natural resource consumption, Romania has put in place measures such as the regulation of animal loads on pastures, fertilization and the addition of mixtures of perennial plant seeds, as well as limiting fish lands to 1/10 of the maximum exploitation level. In terms of forest resources, harvesting is approved only after an impact assessment has been conducted and if a forest area is changed to another use, a similar area in size and quality must be afforested. Forest degradation is addressed in all management plans through measures such as steep slope stabilization, reforestation and the choice of exploitation treatments.

Invasive species constitute a major problem in the Danube Delta and in some forest areas. Specific measures against invasive alien species in forests, such as the control of leaf eaters, are included in local forest management plans, but only when they have a heavy economic impact.

Initiatives in Protected Areas

As of 2004, Romania had designated 963 protected areas, covering 7% of the country’s area, but most are paper parks without an administration in place yet. Several Important Plant Areas already have international recognition, 5 from the Ramsar Convention and 5 are Biosphere Reserves. The National Development Plan 2007-2013 establishes a target to protect 15% of the country by the end of 2013 in order to comply with European Union requirements. Romania is also using the European bioregions in the establishment of the Natura 2000 protected areas network. Several large-scale projects are currently underway such as the Carpathian Mountains network of protected areas and the Green Danube Corridor.

Initiatives for Article 8(j)

No specific programs are developed for the involvement of local communities in the decision-making process regarding specific genetic technologies, but an ordnance was approved which includes procedures for public consultation, allowing local communities and small farmers to express their points of view. There is also a legal procedure of notification for local communities concerning restrictive genetic techniques. Authorization of any activity with significant impact on biodiversity must be preceded by local community participation regarding the impact studies. In addition, the Council of Administration of a protected area must include representatives of the local communities.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme