Prince Charles launches forest landscapes restoration project in Romania
The Prince of Wales, who began a visit in Romania last week, was in Sibiu on May 30 for the launch of Europe’s largest cross border forest restoration project.
The EUR 20 million Horizon 2020 project, SUPERB, is coordinated by the European Forest Institute. The project involves more than 100 forest science and practice organizations in 20 countries and includes 12 large-scale forest restoration demonstration sites across Europe.
One of the sites is located in the Romanian Carpathian Mountains and is funded by the prince’s Circular Bioeconomy Alliance.
SUPERB (Systemic solutions for upscaling of urgent ecosystem restoration for forest-related biodiversity and ecosystem services) is a four-year project, with 36 project partners and over 90 associate project partners.
The Circular Bioeconomy Alliance was established by the Prince of Wales in 2020. It provides “knowledge-informed support as well as a learning and networking platform to connect the dots between investors, companies, governmental and non-governmental organizations and local communities to advance the circular bioeconomy while restoring biodiversity globally.”
Speaking at the launch event organized in Sibiu, Prince Charles emphasized the need for a circular bioeconomy, investing in three mutually reinforcing areas: biodiversity, innovation and local and indigenous communities.
The Circular Bioeconomy Alliance is working with local communities in more than fifteen countries so far across four continents to restore thousands of hectares of land, the prince explained. He gave the example of Romania, where “the intrinsic connection between our human life and natural capital is something that Romanian people have understood only too well for centuries.”
“In no other place in Europe have I found such well-preserved and such productive landscapes, which can function at so large a scale. This, in my view, can be explained by the natural richness of Romania, where some of the largest remnants of old-growth forests on the continent can be found and where, for instance, 200 species of butterflies exist, compared to only forty in my country, the United Kingdom.”
He pointed to what can be learned from the way Romania has relied on regenerative approaches to create rich landscapes in areas such as Transylvania, where man lives in harmony with nature.
“All who travel here have something to learn from the way Romania has been able to rely on regenerative approaches to create species-rich systems and socio-ecologically rich landscapes in areas such as Transylvania, where people still live in harmony with Nature. This is not “old-fashioned, out of date and inefficient.” It is, in fact, the very essence of sustainability based on a profound understanding of Nature’s principles and limits. It is, above all, timeless wisdom in practice.”
He also highlighted the country’s biodiversity and Romania´s rural landscapes he has enjoyed for many years, and warned of the
“Such landscapes that I have personally enjoyed for years have an almost spiritual but also social, economical and ecological significance, which should inspire other countries in Europe to restore the balance between Nature and society. The biodiversity here, in Romania, remains for me unique in Europe – alongside the ancient mixed forest there is the size and quality of the major mammals such as bear, lynx and wolves; and incomparable upland and lowland ancient meadowland with commensurate wild flower riches.”
The prince, who visited last week a center for Ukrainian refugees in Bucharest, also mentioned in his speech the war in Ukraine and praised Romania’s response.
“As I have seen with my own eyes, Romania’s response has been remarkable in both its humanity and its immense generosity. My thoughts and prayers are with all Ukrainians and I am proud that organizations I have been working with for years have done much to offer support. It is a tragedy of immense proportions to witness such death, destruction and misery when we should all be working together to tackle the greatest planetary emergency our world has ever faced.”
(Photo: MMAP - Ministerul Mediului, Apelor și Pădurilor)