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

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 December 2012

Geography Department, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin, Germany
Geography Department, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin, Germany Earth System Analysis, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, PO Box 601203, D-14412 Potsdam, Germany
Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1630 Linden Drive, Madison, Wisconsin 53706-1598, USA
Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Vermont, 81 Carrigan Drive, Burlington, Vermont 05405, USA
Forest Research and Management Institute (ICAS), B-dul Eroilor 128, 077190 Voluntari, Judetul Ilfov, Bucharest, Romania
Forest Research and Management Institute (ICAS), B-dul Eroilor 128, 077190 Voluntari, Judetul Ilfov, Bucharest, Romania
Faculty of Forestry and Wood Sciences, Czech University of Life Sciences, Kamýcka 129, Praha 6, Suchdol 16521, Czech Republic
Geography Department, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin, Germany
WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme Office (DCPO), Strada Lungă nr175, 500051 Braşov, Romania
Geography Department, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin, Germany
*Correspondence: Dr Jan Knorn Tel: +49 30 2093 6846 Fax: +49 30 2093 6948 e-mail:


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.

THEMATIC SECTION: Biodiversity Governance in Central and Eastern Europe
Copyright © Foundation for Environmental Conservation 2012

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