The central aim of the ConnectGREEN project is to contribute to maintaining and improving ecological connectivity between natural habitats, especially between Natura 2000 sites and other protected areas of transnational relevance in the Carpathian ecoregion. During the project, partners from various fields of activity collaborated to increase capacity in the identification and management of ecological corridors. To achieve this, the partners developed a Carpathian-wide methodology on identifying ecological corridors, which was applied in the project’s 4 pilot areas. Based on these results, the pilot area teams are now developing concrete and site-specific measures to address and mitigate threats to ecological connectivity in each of the four transnational pilot areas.
In order to ensure that the measures are properly tailored to the specifies of the respective pilot sites and to secure local backing of the elaborated plans, the project teams actively engaged and met with relevant stakeholders living and working in the area. Two such meetings took place in the Piatra Craului National Park / Bucegi Nature Park pilot area at the end of June 2021.
Image 1.: Stakholder meeting in Piatra Craiului National Park (c) PNCP
The first meeting was organised on 18 June with the participation of local, regional and national stakeholders, including the Brasov County Inspectorate in Constructions, representatives of the mayor’s office, County Councils, Environment Agencies, the Environment Guard, Forest Districts and the Forest Guard, NGO representatives, and mountain rescuers. The project coordinator for the Piatra Craiului National Park (PCNP), Mircea Verghelet, presented the park administration’s activities under ConnectGREEN, after which an external expert from Wildlife Research, Calin Hodor, gave a presentation on the implementation of the ConnectGREEN Methodology for the Identification of Ecological Corridors in the field. In the period from November 2019 – March 2021, 24 trap cameras were set up in the pilot site, gathering 507 pieces footages of the target species. During the field observations, from January 2019 till March 2021, 508 presence signs of the target species were registered.
Image 2.: Stakholder meeting in Piatra Craiului National Park (c) PNCP
A second meeting was held on 25 June, specifically targeting members of the scientific community. The participation included representatives from the Biology, Speleology and Pastures Institutes of the Romanian Academy, the Forestry Faculty from Brasov, the Biology Faculty from the Babes Bolyai University from Cluj-Napoca, the Ministry of Environment, the National Forest Administration, the Romanian Architects Order, and other specialists active in protected area management. After an opening presentation by PCNP Director Mircea Verghelet, the national park’s biologist, Ionut Bordea, gave a talk emphasising the specific measures that need to be applied in the three ecological corridors that were identified in the pilot area.
Both meetings concluded with a question and answer session and discussion with the participants. The project coordinator explained the outcomes of the project and how these will help in preparing the documentation for the official designation of the ecological corridors that are linking Piatra Craiului National Park with the neighbouring mountains.