2 Executive Summary
Romania is a country with rich biodiversity (ecosystems, species and genetic diversity) and a high percentage of natural ecosystems - 47% of the land area of the country is covered with natural and semi-natural ecosystems. Since almost half of all forests in Romania (13% of the country) have been managed for watershed conservation rather than production, Romania has one of the largest areas of undisturbed forest in Europe. The natural integrity of Romanian forest ecosystems is indicated by the presence of the full range of European forest fauna, including 60% and 40% of all European brown bears and wolves, respectively. Europe's largest wetland, the Danube Delta, also lies predominantly in Romania. Major grasslands, caves, and an extensive network of rivers, add to the ecosystem richness.
Important for Romania as well as for all Europe, is that the territory of Romania is a meeting point between biogeographic regions - between arctic, alpine, west and central European, pannonic, pontic, balkanic, submediterranean and even eastern colchic, Caucasian and turanic-iranian regions. The high level of geographic diversity in Romania and the consequence of its location as a biological meeting place, has produced a floral diversity that includes over 3,700 species and a fauna diversity estimated to be more than 33,802 species. These figures include a large number of endemic and subendemic plants (228) and animals (1,000) specifically adapted to local conditions and only found in Romania. Species that once thrived in many parts of Europe are now only found in Romania or found in Romania in large or significant populations.
Although rich in biological resources and important as a corridor for the movement of species (biogenetic material), Romania has suffered the consequence of human activity. Pollution, the damming of rivers, hydrological works, industrial agriculture, overexploitation of natural resources, among other factors, have all taken their toll in decreasing biodiversity. Highly sensitive mountain ecosystems are also particularly threatened by inappropriate forms of tourism and associated infrastructure development. This trend is likely to increase if appropriate measures to reduce the effects of pollution and of economic pressures connected with the overexploitation of natural resources will not be undertaken.
Taking into account these significant problems, Romania has an active governmental and non-governmental commitment to reverse the trends of biodiversity loss. A large number of areas (4.8% of the countrys land area) have been designated as protected areas. Romania has signed most international conventions and regional environmental agreements. However, a coordinated and effectively managed system of protected areas does not exist and institutional arrangements for nature conservation and protected area management have not yet been clearly defined. Consequently there is an urgent need to define lead responsibility, and to further develop the field capacity, to address the rapidly increasing and changing needs for protected areas management and biodiversity conservation.
In order to address these shortcomings Romania has embarked on a process of elaborating a Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Action Plan. The priority actions listed in Box 1 have been agreed to the wide range of participants who have helped develop the Strategy and Action Plan.
Given the expanding pressure on natural resources and biodiversity within Romania, the Romanian Government has recognised that they must act now to protect these valuable resources for current and future generations.