NGO accuses Bucharest City Hall of poorly managing the city’s biggest park
The Văcărești Natural Park Association (VNPA) wants to end its collaboration with the Bucharest City Hall and demands the resignation of the subordinate Văcărești Natural Park Administration. The association accuses the park’s administration of bad management.
The Văcărești Park Nature Reserve, also known as Delta Văcărești, is the only urban nature reserve in the country and the largest park in Bucharest.
Initially, it was an artificial lake, conceived in Communist Romania to be part of Bucharest's flood defense system. However, the project was never completed, and over the many years that it stood abandoned, nature took over. It is populated by diverse vegetation and wildlife and was officially declared a protected area in 2016.
For the last several years it has been under the administration of the Văcărești Natural Park Association which fought for it to be considered a natural protected area. The Association carries out informational & educational projects, biodiversity monitoring, and conservation actions, and facilitates public access to the reserve.
The collaboration between the Association and the Bucharest City Hall began in the autumn of last year when, following the VNPA’s initiative, the City Hall won the contest for the administration of the Văcărești Natural Park.
At that time, expectations were high and Bucharest mayor Nicușor Dan expressed his hopes for a productive partnership stating that “Văcărești Park is a huge opportunity that Bucharest has and we are ready, in partnership with the NGO that has taken care of Văcărești Park for years, with the District 4 City Hall and with any other interested and competent party in this area, to manage and make Văcărești Park an important point of attraction in Bucharest.”
The Văcărești Natural Park Association is disappointed with the results that this collaboration has had over the past several months. They believe that the City Hall’s administration is negatively affecting the park, and fear that the work that the association has done over the past ten years is being put in jeopardy.
The Văcărești Natural Park Association outlined the following reasons for their desire to end the partnership:
- After several months, the Park still lacks adequate surveillance and vegetation fires continue to affect it. Just in the last two months, there have been 6 fires, and 15 of the park’s 183 hectares burned.
- The Park Administration does not disclose its plans for the management of the Park and excludes the Association from participating instead of allowing it to act as co-manager.
- The Park Administration has commissioned several contracts for research and works in the park, whose contents and budgets have not been made public and are therefore unknown.
- The Park Administration has not allowed the Association to continue planting trees on the outer boundary of the park, which it has been doing in recent years for natural protective and pollution-reducing purposes.
- The Park Administration has been demolishing the park's visitor infrastructure without communicating anything to the Association
“For the past year, we have tried every possible avenue and we hoped that the partnership between our association and the Bucharest City Hall would be to the benefit of the park and the citizens of Bucharest. Unfortunately, we have found that the Văcărești Natural Park Administration not only refuses the support we have offered but also systematically opposes and thwarts our project proposals,” said the president of the Văcărești Natural Park Association, Florin Stoican.
The Văcărești Natural Park Association has announced that it will continue its activities in the park in the following period and will closely supervise the work of the City Hall Administration to ensure that it fulfills its legal obligations as administrator up to the moment of resignation. It will also continue to inform the public about all the communication with the City Hall’s Park Administration.
(Photo source: Inquam Photos / George Calin)