Continued loss of temperate old-growth forests in the Romanian Carpathians despite an increasing protected area network


SUMMARY Old-growth forests around the world are vanishing rapidly and have been lost almost completely from the European temperate forest region. Poor management practices, often triggered by socioeconomic and institutional change, are the main causes of loss. Recent trends in old-growth forest cover in Romania, where some of the last remaining tracts of these forests within Europe are located, are revealed by satellite image analysis. Forest cover declined by 1.3 % from 2000 to 2010. Romania’s protected area network has been expanded substantially since the country’s accession to the European Union in 2007, and most of the remaining old-growth forests now are located within protected areas. Surprisingly though, 72% of the old-growth forest disturbances are found within protected areas, highlighting the threats still facing these forests. It appears that logging in old-growth forests is, at least in part, related to institutional reforms, insufficient protection and ownership changes since the collapse of communism in 1989. The majority of harvesting activities in old-growth forest areas are in accordance with the law. Without improvements to their governance, the future of Romania’s old-growth forests and the important ecosystem services they provide remains uncertain.

Environmental Conservation
Patrick Hostert
Patrick Hostert
Principal Investigator