Between April and May 2019 the Apuseni Natural Park Administration organized a competition within the ECO KARST project, whose purpose was to identify local businesses that correspond to the Pro Biodiversity model. To participate in this contest, companies have completed a form with questions about how they operate. The selection criteria were established within the project, and the jury consisted of experts from the Apuseni Nate Park Management, representatives of local stakeholders as well as independent experts collaborating in various activities during the project.
Twenty-one businesses from various fields such as wood processing, forest fruit and mushroom processing, medicinal plants processing, livestock breeding and dairy production and tourism service providers joined the competition. Companies are based in the three counties over which the Apuseni Nature Park overlaps, 11 from Alba County, 6 from Bihor County and 4 from Cluj County. On the podium, 4 businesses were ranked, because after the evaluation, two businesses achieved the same score, and the jury decided to award two places 3.
The winner of the contest was SC Bioflora Apuseni SRL, a local company that collects and processes medicinal plants, especially Arnica montana, in sustainable conditions, with benefits for the conservation of the Apuseni Nature Park meadows and with substantial contributions to the welfare of the local population. On the second place was SC Emilian Funghi SRL, which collects park and sells organically certified mushrooms and berries from the territory of the Park, and the third place was SC Natural Timber SRL, a local company that produces wildlife shelters, for example, PFI Matiş Angela Cornelia, a local farm using natural pastures and meadows in the Apuseni Nature Park and producing milk and dairy products certified with BIO.
The winners were granted the free use of the Apuseni Nature Park logo as a "park partner" to certify the origin of the products and services provided on the market, and the winner of the first place was also invited to participate free of charge at the ECO KARST Final Conference, happening between 17-19 June 2019 in the Postojna region, Slovenia.
The award was made at the Pro-Biodiversity Business Gala, which took place on May 24, 2019, on the occasion of the European Park Day, in Vârtop Holiday Village in Apuseni Natural Park. The event's moderator was Nicolae Furdui Iancu, who was also the cultural ambassador of the Apuseni Natural Park.
The ECO KARST project has identified and mapped the most important ecosystem services in the Apuseni Natural Park, after which three workshops with stakeholders were organized, a study visit to the Kalkalpen National Park in Austria and an entrepreneurship course all aimed at promoting local sustainable development models through the establishment of pro-biodiversity business. As a result of these activities, an action plan for sustainable use of ecosystem services was made with key actors, public authorities, agencies and business representatives.