Securing Romania’s disappearing forests

The southern reaches of the Carpathian Mountains, one of Europe’s largest ranges and a crucial refuge for its wildlife, spread into the heart of Romania. Romania still holds large tracts of primary forest and harbors the largest populations of European brown bear, wolf, and Eurasian lynx in the European Union, with strongholds in the Southern Carpathians. Logging was already happening in this part of the Carpathians before the 2000s, but at a much smaller scale than later years, regardless of land ownership.

In 2005, Romania took the decision to pass formerly nationalized forests, including conservation areas, back to private individual ownership. This process triggered usage conflicts, and in many cases, massive clear-cuts with thousands of hectares of forests illegally logged. The integrity of the Carpathian ecosystem was severely threatened. Most of the former owners, however, have no interest in the land and are generally willing to sell. This has given rise to a highly favorable, yet very narrow, time window in which large natural forest areas in the country can be protected on a permanent basis.

FZS, through its partner the Foundation Conservation Carpathia, is working to stop illegal logging and to protect a significant part of the Carpathian forests, including the last remaining unfragmented old-growth forests in Europe. We do this by acquiring land, leasing hunting rights for full protection of wildlife, restoring degraded habitats, and transforming the current extractive economy into something more beneficial for the local communities.

Our focus areas in Romania

  • Stopping illegal logging in neighboring forests
  • Restoring severely damaged clear-cuts to prevent soil erosion
  • Creating and maintaining an area of 65,000 ha without trophy and sports hunting 
  • Restoring the Carpathian ecosystem: bison reintroduced after 200-year absence
  • Implementing a modern, non-invasive wildlife monitoring system
The alpine region in the Carpathia project area, supported by FZS. Common junipers are seen in the grass. The Piatra Craiului National Park mountain range seen in the background. Romania. © Daniel Rosengren
A forest in the Carpathia project area, supported by FZS. Romania. © Daniel Rosengren
The White-throated dipper is a common bird along streams in the Carpathia area, supported by FZS. Romania. © Daniel Rosengren
Mushrooms growing on a dead tree trunk in Carpathia’s project area. One single dead tree lying on the ground means so much life for other organisms. Sinca Noua, Romania. © Daniel Rosengren
Ferns growing by a mossy tree in Carpathia’s project area. Sinca Noua, Romania. © Daniel Rosengren
Cobor, Romania. © Daniel Rosengren
Keeping sheep is a common livelihood in the Carpathian Mountains. Many sheep graze within the areas of the Carpathia project. Cobor, Romania. © Daniel Rosengren
Chamois in Piatra Craiului National Park, Romania. © Daniel Rosengren
The old forest machine tracks are being restored by Carpathia and Life projects to prevent erosion of the steep slopes. The excavator also digs up existing bushes that are re-planted in the freshly restored area. Romania. © Daniel Rosengren
A brown bear in the Carpathia project area. Romania. © Daniel Rosengren
The forest in the Carpathia project area, supported by FZS. Romania. © Daniel Rosengren
Carpathia Project area, Romania. © Daniel Rosengren

Project updates

  • A BAMBI for the Prombergers

  • Return of the big beast: in search of Romania’s wild bison – in pictures

  • First bison calf born wild in 200 years

Projects in Romania


FZS partner Foundation Conservation Carpathia awarded €9.3m grant from the European Union


Publication of a protected area vision for Romania


Start of the conservation enterprise program in the Fagaras Mountains


FZS partner Foundation Conservation Carpathia awarded a €2.9m grant from the European Union


Start of FZS collaboration with, and support to Foundation Conservation Carpathia


FZS partner organization, Foundation Conservation Carpathia, created with the aim to stop illegal logging, and to protect a significant part of the Southern Carpathian forests.



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