6 National Strategy and Action Plan for Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use of its Components

The current status and threats to biodiversity in Romania have been presented in the previous sections. In order to ensure that the existing biodiversity is maintained and damaged ecosystems restored, Romania has embarked on a process of elaborating a Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan.(see Appendix 1 for a list of participants). This section contains the conclusions of that process and the recommendations and objectives that have been developed. It should be noted that the strategy and action plan outlined have been developed with consideration to the "Strategy of Environmental Protection in Romania" and Romania’s "National Environmental Action Plan" that was completed in Dec. 1995. The conservation of biodiversity was emphasised in both documents.

6.1 General Conclusions

The following general conclusions form the basis of the objectives and actions selected for the biodiversity strategy:

6.2 Priority Areas

Based on the above general conclusions the following priority areas have been identified for targeting biodiversity protection strategies.

Habitats Characterised by a Large Number of Endemic Species and a High Biological Diversity

A concentration of habitats with a great number of endemic, rare, relict species can be observed in the mountain massifs: Rodna, Bistrita and Ceahlau, Bucegi and Piatra Craiului, Retezat-Godeanu, Cernei-Mehedinti, Apuseni. A high biological diversity can also be found in the Northern Dobrogean Plateau, in the south of Banat, in the Transsylvanian Plateaux and in the Danubian gorges, in the Moldovian Plateau. The most important wetland habitats are those in the Delta, and the oligotrophic and eutrophic swamps conserving relict and rare species such as the Petea thermal lake and Valsan river. These areas of high biodiversity value need priority protection.

Habitats Which are Threatened to be Irreversibly Degraded or to Be Destroyed

Habitats existing around extreme polluting sources that are threatened with irreversible damage should be a priority target for protection. The floodplain habitats in which the underground water and the flooding regimes have been modified (along the Danube River floodplain for example) and wetlands that are being heavily polluted and drained (the Olt River) also need priority attention for conservation and restoration. Hydrotechnical works (i.e. on Riu Mare in Retezat), overgrazing and uncontrolled tourism (in Bucegi, Piatra Craiului and Retezat) are placing under threat the rich biodiversity of these areas. Many other aquatic habitats are threatened or destroyed by pollution of the rivers and natural lakesand large areas of natural habitats are threatened or destroyed due to the open mining.

Habitats and Species Whose Conservation and Sustainable Management Can Provide Benefits at a Local and National Level

Habitats which contain major species of trees with high wood production value (the resonance spruce, broad-leaved trees used for veneer production etc.), herbaceous species with high medicinal, melliferous, fodder values, must be conserved and managed sustainable. All forest ecosystems with natural structures that are strongly diversified (mixed forests with beech, fir, and spruce, the uneven age beech forests, and mixed oak forests) if managed sustainable, can provide large economic benefits. For example Bucovina forest and grasslands which are very rich in species, need to be conserved and subjected to special management. Aquatic ecosystems such as the Danube floodplains and tributaries and Danube Delta can bring large local and regional benefits when protected, restored and effectively managed. At this can be added the habitats with high aesthetic landscape value which can be rendered through ecotourism.

Habitats and Species Whose Conservation and/or Sustainable Management Can Provide Educational Benefits

Habitats and species whose sustainable conservation and management can bring educational benefits, should be contained in protected areas, national parks and biosphere reserves. These areas offer excellent outdoor classrooms for education in a wide range of studies, as well as for the understanding of the natural evolution laws and processes. The sustainable management of wetlands ensures educational benefits.

Threatened Habitats and Species Which Must Be Controlled Through Special Regulations

The utilisation of the grasslands, especially those on steep hills should be regulated and strictly controlled in order to prevent their degradation and reduction of biodiversity through overgrazing and erosion. Strict regulations and permanent control over those who gather and sell plants and animals from wildlife are needed in order to avoid the loss of valuable species and to ensure their sustainable use. Also special regulations should be issued in order to prevent the reduction of the biodiversity in agroecosystems. A positive example of control through special regulations for threatened habitats and species exists in the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve where the Administration has developed several special management measures.

According to the Bern Convention, ratified by Romania, and to the recommendations issued by the Council of Europe, specific plans and regulations shall be developed in Romania for the protection of the following bird species: Numenius tennuirostris, Falco naumanni, Crex crex, Phalacrocorax pygmeus, Oxyura leucocephala, Pelecanus crispus, Branta ruficolis, Anser erythropus, Aquila heliaca, Otis tarda.

6.3 Legal and Institutional Reform

Actions targeted at species and habitats alone are recognised as insufficient to protect biodiversity in Romania. Institutional reform and development are needed as well. In particular there is a need for:

Creation and/or Revision of Laws

It is necessary to urgently revise laws covering protected areas, particular ecosystems, hunting and fishing, protection of flora and fauna, bees protection and keeping and general biodiversity protection and sustainable use of its components.

Capacity Building

In order to ensure the implementation of actions designed for the conservation of biological diversity and sustainable use of its components it is necessary to create departments responsible for biodiversity in both national and local organisations and in the agencies which govern issues which affect biodiversity. The responsible personnel must be trained to carry out their designated tasks and thereby strengthen the capacity for biodiversity conservation in Romania.

Decentralisation

Biodiversity conservation activities should be decentralised to the regional and local level to the degree possible in co-operation with the local management units that administer forests, grasslands, and wetlands, with institutions from the academic and university network, other organisations from the public and private sector as well as with the representatives of local communities and NGOs.

A New Coordinating Mechanism for Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use of Its Components

The new regulations must designate the national competent authorities with responsibilities to give direction, regulate, supervise and control for the biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of its components. A coordinating committee administered by the Ministry of Water, Forest and Environmental Protection should be organised to analyse and advise activities for the conservation of biological diversity. The committee should be made up of representatives of agencies that decide on natural resource use and include the Ministry of Water, Forests and Environmental Protection (MWFEP), the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Public Works and Territorial Planning, the Romanian Academy, the Academy of Agricultural Sciences, as well as representatives from universities, local administrations and NGOs.

Involvement of NGOs and Local Communities

The role of NGOs and local communities in the conservation of biodiversity should be enhanced by the gradual decentralising of planning, management and implementation activities.

Assessment of the Costs and Benefits of Biological Diversity Conservation

In order to assess the values, the costs and benefits of biological diversity, conservation specialists in this field will be trained with the support of international organisations.

Dialogue and Co-ordination/ Public Participation

The committee and agency of the MWFEP, created to direct, co-ordinate and manage the conservation of biodiversity, will initiate discussions at both the national and local level with all interested parties on issues related to conservation. The same organisation will ensure the coordination of specific activities related to biodiversity conservation at the national level. A national forum for biodiversity conservation should be established with the involvement of all representatives of the civil society.

Financial Resources for Biodiversity Conservation

Financial resources for biodiversity conservation (up to the year 2000) will come in part from the budget of the Ministry of Water, Forests, and Environmental Protection and in part from the public and private sector organisations that manage and use natural resources for economical activities. In the second stage, it is hoped to obtain additional funds from the local communities and other parties. Further possibilities include possibly retaining a small percentage of profits from the use of natural resources to be used for conservation activities. Similarly, regulations will be needed to raise additional funds for supporting the actions of conservation from local communities and firms which are willing to participate.

Through special regulations a system of economical incentives and penalties for biological diversity conservation will be elaborated.

6.4 Primary Needs

Taking into account the present status of the biological diversity in Romania, the threats that affect it, and the general conclusions that have been developed, the following priority objectives have been delineated (in order of priority) (see Table 3):

6.5 Priority Actions for Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use of its Components in Romania

The following projects should be included in the first stage (5 years) of the Romanian Biodiversity Action Plan.

1. Develop and implement detailed management plans in 1-2 national parks or biosphere reserves which contain natural habitats and elements of biodiversity including forests, grasslands and a rich fauna, representative for the biogeographic area of Romania, that will then be used as models for the management of other parks and reserves.
2. Completion of a national network of protected areas with new areas which contain valuable ecosystems that have not yet been protected.
3. The reintroduction of some key species that have previously been extirpated from Romania.
4. Completion of an inventory of the biodiversity in the primary types of ecosystems (forests, grasslands, and wetlands) using a unified and well defined methodology.
5. Assessment of the economic and social value and of the costs and benefits of biological diversity conservation in forests used for production and in those that are protected.
6. Assessment of the economic and social value and of the costs and benefits of biological diversity in the agroecosystems used for production.
7. Assessment of the costs and benefits of biological diversity conservation in the protected areas.
8. Assessment of the costs and benefits of ex-situ biological diversity protection
9. Organization of a network for the ex-situ conservation of biological diversity.
10. Elaboration of a model administration (for 5 - 6 agroecosystems districts with representative bioclimatic zones and layers) for the sustainable management of agroecosystems in a manner consistent with the principles and actions required under the Convention on Biological Diversity.
11. Elaboration of a model administration (for 1-2 grassland administration districts) for the sustainable management of grasslands consistent with the principles and actions required under the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The objectives and priority actions are detailed in table 3.