fbpx
European Rewilding Network

Southern Carpathians rewilding area

A wilderness arc at the heart of Europe

With ongoing annual bison releases since 2014 Rewilding Europe and WWF Romania are working to establish a viable wild bison population in the Southern Carpathians.
Staffan Widstrand / Rewilding Europe
One of the bison being released in the Southern Carpathians fitted with a GPS collar.
Daniel Mirlea
Bison rangers Matei Minulescu and Daniel Hurduzeu fix camera traps in the Southern Carpathians rewilding area.
Bogdan Comanescu
Nature forest, such as those in the Southern Carpathians capture a huge amount of carbon.
Frans Schepers
Tarcu mountains nature reserve, Natura 2000 area, Southern Carpathians, Romania.

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, relatively intact wild landscapes, wild rivers, and large areas of mosaic vegetation largely shaped by traditional farming and grazing practices, there is a unique opportunity to realise this vision.

The Carpathians host a rich variety of wildlife (wolf, Eurasian lynx, brown bear, wild cat, red deer, roe deer, wild boar, chamois and more). However, their numbers are still unnaturally low, partly due to the heavy hunting pressure in the past. The ongoing, large-scale abandonment of farmland is an opportunity for wildlife return and has created an urgent need for new economic opportunities in these traditional rural areas.

With the conservation measures and the rewilding work in the region underway, new economic opportunities will arise. This, in combination with a spectacularly beautiful landscape, with high mountains and caves as well as cultural attractions, the region has the potential to become a high-quality tourism destination for both domestic and foreign visitors.

Project: Southern Carpathians rewilding area
Region: Southwestern Carpathians - Tarcu Mountains
Type of protection: Mainly in Natura 2000 and two National Parks
Habitat types: 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.
Fauna (mega) species present: Brown bear, Wolf, Lynx, Wild boar, Red deer, Roe deer, Chamois
Type of project: Creating space for wilder nature, Fostering the development of nature based economies, Increasing interest in the wild through communications, Magnification of rewilding impact and practices, Supporting wildlife comeback
Aim and vision: The whole area has much stronger populations of its original native wildlife species, boosted by reintroductions and re-stockings. The large carnivores are seen as a normal part of the fauna and become attractions for the area, as well as other wildlife species like European bison.
Making the Southern Carpathians a wilder place. For the benefit of nature and people.
The whole area has much stronger populations of its original native wildlife species, boosted by reintroductions and re-stockings when considered necessary.
Uniqueness of the project: The wider area forms 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.
Other activities: Community involved, Eco tourism, Education, Recreational activities, Research, Sale of sustainable products
Results you aim to accomplish in 10 years from now on: The wild values of the Southern Carpathian ecosystems are better preserved, and large areas have become much wilder than before, with a number of large and well-protected core wilderness areas that have no-take (no-hunting/no logging) regimes. These are connected through wilderness corridors and surrounded by buffer and transition areas for different types and levels of sustainable use. In the core wilderness areas, natural ecological processes are allowed to a great extent to regulate nature, with wildlife in fully natural densities and with all the original native wildlife species present. The largest reintroduction of the European bison in recent times breathes new life into this region and provides new opportunities for a nature-based economy.
Results so far: A set of draft guidelines have been developed and submitted to the Romanian government regarding forest reserve areas affected by bark beetle outbreaks.
An inventory of pristine forests areas has been carried out in the Tarcu Mountains Natura 2000 area and a request submitted to decision makers for their rapid protection.
A Technical Wilderness Group has been established with the directors and biologists of several protected areas from the Southwestern Carpathians Wilderness Area.
A feasibility study on the re-introduction of European bison has been carried ou (2016), with the most suitable area identified in the Tarcu Mountain Natura 2000 site.
Following agreement with the Armenis municipality the first group of 17 bison were transported to the area in the spring of 2014.
Further releases has brought the total number of bison in the area to over 50.
The European Commission-funded LIFE Bison project "Urgent actions for the recovery of European bison populations in Romania" started in 2016. Bison will be releases every year to at least 2021.
In mid-2016, Rewilding Europe and WWF Romania established a bison breeding centre in the Hunedoara Zoo under the framework of the LIFE Bison project.
A detailed protocol has been developed for monitoring bison using mainly GPS collars and motion detection cameras.
Support has been given to Romania's National Working Group for the Conservation of the European Bison in drafting the National Bison Conservation Plan.
Local people have been trained up as the area's first bison rangers and guides. Bison rangers have been contracted, providing the first jobs to the local community.
Tour operators, tour enterprises and local guesthouses have been identified and contacted regarding the development of a wildlife tourism initiative.
A Bison Visitor Centre has been established, from which several bison and nature- related activities are organised.
Rewilding Europe has collaborated with tour operators to help develop tourism itineraries and nature-based experiences in the Southern Carpathians rewilding area.
Entrepreneurs in Armenis have developed a cottage in Sat Batrân as a holiday cottage - an example of new economic opportunities. Similarly, tented accommodation at Plopu has been developed to provide a European Safari experience to visitors.
In 2016 experiences in the Southern Carpathians began to be offered through the European Safari Company.
Visitors to the Southern Carpathians are now able to enjoy a new, state-of-the-art wildlife observatory built in the rewilding area.
In 2017 a visually stunning Romanian photographic exhibition presented the full story of Rewilding Europe's ongoing bison reintroduction project in the Southern Carpathians. The exhibition featured at the Awake Festival of Music and Culture in the Transylvanian village of Gornești in September, and in Bucharest in October.
Short documentaries were aired by RTBF Le Une (Belgium) and CNN International.
The short documentary Zimbrul, which is telling the bison story throught the eyes of the local community - has been nominated for several international film festivals across Europe
Inspirational value: The Southern Carpathian mountain range is one of the least human touched areas in Europe, forming a wild continuum of more than 1 million ha. This is one of the best natural places in Europe where dense and viable wildlife populations could be rebuilt and where natural processes could occur on extensive scale. The Southern Carpathians could definitely be considered the Green Heart of Europe.
Experience you would like to share: Community relationship; Stakeholder engagement; Species reintroduction; Ecological connectivity.
Experience you would like to gain: Community development; Development of alternative conservation-related enterprises; Enhance natural processes.
Map
Country
Romania
Start year
2012
Size (ha)
100000
Area type
Forest-grassland mosaic, Mountainous
Natural process
Bark beetle, Other, Predation
Flagship species
Bison
Southern Carpathians rewilding area
Southern Carpathians rewilding area
Member of:
European Wildlife Bank
Rewilding Europe Capital
European Safari Company
With ongoing annual bison releases since 2014 Rewilding Europe and WWF Romania are working to establish a viable wild bison population in the Southern Carpathians.
Staffan Widstrand / Rewilding Europe
One of the bison being released in the Southern Carpathians fitted with a GPS collar.
Daniel Mirlea
Bison rangers Matei Minulescu and Daniel Hurduzeu fix camera traps in the Southern Carpathians rewilding area.
Bogdan Comanescu
Nature forest, such as those in the Southern Carpathians capture a huge amount of carbon.
Frans Schepers
Tarcu mountains nature reserve, Natura 2000 area, Southern Carpathians, Romania.

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, relatively intact wild landscapes, wild rivers, and large areas of mosaic vegetation largely shaped by traditional farming and grazing practices, there is a unique opportunity to realise this vision.

The Carpathians host a rich variety of wildlife (wolf, Eurasian lynx, brown bear, wild cat, red deer, roe deer, wild boar, chamois and more). However, their numbers are still unnaturally low, partly due to the heavy hunting pressure in the past. The ongoing, large-scale abandonment of farmland is an opportunity for wildlife return and has created an urgent need for new economic opportunities in these traditional rural areas.

With the conservation measures and the rewilding work in the region underway, new economic opportunities will arise. This, in combination with a spectacularly beautiful landscape, with high mountains and caves as well as cultural attractions, the region has the potential to become a high-quality tourism destination for both domestic and foreign visitors.

Map
Country
Romania
Start year
2012
Size (ha)
100000
Area type
Forest-grassland mosaic, Mountainous
Natural process
Bark beetle, Other, Predation
Flagship species
Bison
Specification
Project: Southern Carpathians rewilding area
Region: Southwestern Carpathians - Tarcu Mountains
Type of protection: Mainly in Natura 2000 and two National Parks
Habitat types: 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.
Fauna (mega) species present: Brown bear, Wolf, Lynx, Wild boar, Red deer, Roe deer, Chamois
Description
Type of project: Creating space for wilder nature, Fostering the development of nature based economies, Increasing interest in the wild through communications, Magnification of rewilding impact and practices, Supporting wildlife comeback
Aim and vision: The whole area has much stronger populations of its original native wildlife species, boosted by reintroductions and re-stockings. The large carnivores are seen as a normal part of the fauna and become attractions for the area, as well as other wildlife species like European bison.
Making the Southern Carpathians a wilder place. For the benefit of nature and people.
The whole area has much stronger populations of its original native wildlife species, boosted by reintroductions and re-stockings when considered necessary.
Uniqueness of the project: The wider area forms 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.
Other activities: Community involved, Eco tourism, Education, Recreational activities, Research, Sale of sustainable products
Achievements
Results you aim to accomplish in 10 years from now on: The wild values of the Southern Carpathian ecosystems are better preserved, and large areas have become much wilder than before, with a number of large and well-protected core wilderness areas that have no-take (no-hunting/no logging) regimes. These are connected through wilderness corridors and surrounded by buffer and transition areas for different types and levels of sustainable use. In the core wilderness areas, natural ecological processes are allowed to a great extent to regulate nature, with wildlife in fully natural densities and with all the original native wildlife species present. The largest reintroduction of the European bison in recent times breathes new life into this region and provides new opportunities for a nature-based economy.
Results so far: A set of draft guidelines have been developed and submitted to the Romanian government regarding forest reserve areas affected by bark beetle outbreaks.
An inventory of pristine forests areas has been carried out in the Tarcu Mountains Natura 2000 area and a request submitted to decision makers for their rapid protection.
A Technical Wilderness Group has been established with the directors and biologists of several protected areas from the Southwestern Carpathians Wilderness Area.
A feasibility study on the re-introduction of European bison has been carried ou (2016), with the most suitable area identified in the Tarcu Mountain Natura 2000 site.
Following agreement with the Armenis municipality the first group of 17 bison were transported to the area in the spring of 2014.
Further releases has brought the total number of bison in the area to over 50.
The European Commission-funded LIFE Bison project "Urgent actions for the recovery of European bison populations in Romania" started in 2016. Bison will be releases every year to at least 2021.
In mid-2016, Rewilding Europe and WWF Romania established a bison breeding centre in the Hunedoara Zoo under the framework of the LIFE Bison project.
A detailed protocol has been developed for monitoring bison using mainly GPS collars and motion detection cameras.
Support has been given to Romania's National Working Group for the Conservation of the European Bison in drafting the National Bison Conservation Plan.
Local people have been trained up as the area's first bison rangers and guides. Bison rangers have been contracted, providing the first jobs to the local community.
Tour operators, tour enterprises and local guesthouses have been identified and contacted regarding the development of a wildlife tourism initiative.
A Bison Visitor Centre has been established, from which several bison and nature- related activities are organised.
Rewilding Europe has collaborated with tour operators to help develop tourism itineraries and nature-based experiences in the Southern Carpathians rewilding area.
Entrepreneurs in Armenis have developed a cottage in Sat Batrân as a holiday cottage - an example of new economic opportunities. Similarly, tented accommodation at Plopu has been developed to provide a European Safari experience to visitors.
In 2016 experiences in the Southern Carpathians began to be offered through the European Safari Company.
Visitors to the Southern Carpathians are now able to enjoy a new, state-of-the-art wildlife observatory built in the rewilding area.
In 2017 a visually stunning Romanian photographic exhibition presented the full story of Rewilding Europe's ongoing bison reintroduction project in the Southern Carpathians. The exhibition featured at the Awake Festival of Music and Culture in the Transylvanian village of Gornești in September, and in Bucharest in October.
Short documentaries were aired by RTBF Le Une (Belgium) and CNN International.
The short documentary Zimbrul, which is telling the bison story throught the eyes of the local community - has been nominated for several international film festivals across Europe
Exchange
Inspirational value: The Southern Carpathian mountain range is one of the least human touched areas in Europe, forming a wild continuum of more than 1 million ha. This is one of the best natural places in Europe where dense and viable wildlife populations could be rebuilt and where natural processes could occur on extensive scale. The Southern Carpathians could definitely be considered the Green Heart of Europe.
Experience you would like to share: Community relationship; Stakeholder engagement; Species reintroduction; Ecological connectivity.
Experience you would like to gain: Community development; Development of alternative conservation-related enterprises; Enhance natural processes.
Southern Carpathians rewilding area
Southern Carpathians rewilding area
Member of:
European Wildlife Bank
Rewilding Europe Capital
European Safari Company
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.