Heralded as one of Europe’s last great wilderness areas, The Carpathian Mountains stretch 1500km across central and eastern Europe and are home to the continents largest unfragmented forest. In Romania, at the southernmost reaches of the Carpathians, the country has found itself fighting to protect this unique and fragile landscape.
It is said that “the forest is Romania’s brother”, however in recent years this innate connection to the forests is being put under incredible strain. In the years that succeeded the fall of communism, huge swathes of previously state-owned forest areas were handed back to their former owners. However, the way in which this restitution occurred prompted huge clear-cuts and thousands of hectares of forests were illegally felled. With Romania being home to almost half of the European population of Wolf, Lynx and Brown Bear, the destruction of these contiguous forests is threatening the wider Carpathian ecosystem.
Founded in 2009, Foundation Conservation Carpathia (FCC) are spearheading efforts to protect and restore a significant area within the Southern Carpathians by forming a new European Wilderness Reserve. By purchasing large tracts of forests and meadows, the FCC cease logging operations and lease all hunting rights to guarantee full protection of all natural elements. These landholdings will ultimately be returned to the public domain for permanent protection in the form of a National Park.
Working closely with the FCC, ‘Carpathia’ documents the work undertaken by the organisations team of rangers as they embark on an ambitious wildlife monitoring programme spanning approximately 100,000 hectares. Scenes of delicate interactions with the land, set against the magnificence of the Carpathian landscape, emphasise the mammoth undertaking of the FCC and act as a visual archive of the rebirth of European wilderness, as the organisation approaches its ten-year anniversary.