Brown Bears and Beech trees - Wildlife Estates Visits Romania

Brown Bears and Beech trees - Wildlife Estates Visits Romania

On the 20th September 2017, the Wildlife Estates Label held its Annual Plenary Session in Bucharest, Romania.

The event was opened by Romanian Minister for Agriculture, Petre DAEA, who voiced his support for the goals of the Wildlife Estate project and the role of agricultural producers across Europe in managing biodiversity effectively.

He stated that, “biodiversity needs to be preserved and guaranteed for the future”. He went on to say that, “Romania enjoys, along with many other Member States, a natural diversity that deserves, on the one hand, to be seen, on the other hand to be understood, and not lastly preserved and taught to future generations.”

The theme of the conference was the intersection between land management plans and biodiversity conservation, with the first panel dedicated to “Integrated wildlife management plans for large carnivores”, while the second panel explored the creation of “Synergies between forest management and biodiversity management.”

Panellists included a wide range of exceptional speakers from the world of academia, business and EU affairs, including Nicola NOTARO, Head of Unit, DG Environment, European Commission; Professor Ovidiu IONESCU, Vice-Dean at the Faculty of Silviculture and Forest Engineering in the University of Braşov; Bernhard BUDIL, Chairman of the Civil Dialogue Group on Forestry and Cork and Secretary General of the Association of Austrian Land and Forest Owners; and Costel BUCUR, Forest Manager for the IKEA Group, among others.

Panel debates highlighted the importance of integrating biodiversity into the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform, while also maintaining the balance between biodiversity conservation and the interests of landowners and land users.

Key concerns included ensuring that adequate dialogue with stakeholders is sought prior to the creation of management plans, as well as when working with stakeholders in regions co-existing with large carnivores. The subject of financial burden-sharing was also addressed. Many speakers called for the recognition of nature and biodiversity as public goods, from which society as a whole benefits, and to which society as a whole should contribute.

The conference was well attended, thanks especially to the efforts of Laurenţiu BACIU, President of the Romanian Agricultural Producers Association League (LAPAR) and member of ELO, who mobilized Romanian press and local stakeholders.

The Wildlife Estates Plenary Sessions are not simply talking shops; the 3-day event also gives landowners and managers the opportunity to go out into the field and to experience alternative local land-management practices.

This year, participants spent the night in the picturesque village of Râşnov at the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains where they had the opportunity to visit the legendary Bran castle, the 12th century fortress on which Dracula’s castle is based.

The following day the members were invited to attend a number of site visits to learn about wildlife and forest management plans in place in the surrounding areas. The group was met by a forestry manager from the Râşnov Forest Authority, in the spectacular the Râşnov Gorge, where the army practices military manoeuvres on the sheer rock cliffs. They were given a guided tour of the tree nursery and research facilities which are perched at the base of the breath-taking Massif Postăvarul.

This one-hectare site is equipped with a 100-square-meter solar powered heating and irrigation systems, nearly 2,500 square meters of crop fields, and has an annual capacity of up to 35,000 fir, spruce and beech saplings. The project received 60% of its financing from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

Then, led by Ovidiu IONESCU, who shared his detailed technical knowledge of local history, wildlife management practices and national legislation, members visited several bear observatories and feeding sites. Afterwards, the group descended from the Carpathians to enjoy some regional delicacies, courtesy of the generosity and hospitality of Árpád SÁRKÁNY, Romania’s first Wildlife Estates Member.