A chance for Romania’s Wolves through the WOLFLIFE Preservation Program

WOLFLIFE began on July 1st 2014, in Focşani, with funding from the European Commission through the Life+ Program “Nature and Biodiversity”, as the first preservation project in Romania dedicated exclusively to the protection of wolves. WOLFLIFE aims to implement the best practices available for preserving this species’ (Canis lupus) habitat, in order to maintain a healthy and viable population of wolves in the Carpathian Mountains and to promote a better coexistence between man and wolf.

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Spanning 4 years, this project will be implemented by the Vrancea Environmental Protection Agency, in partnership with ACDB (The Association for Preserving Bio-Diversity), the Covasna Environmental Protection Agency and the Harghita Environmental Protection Agency. The targeted area is located in the Southern and Central Oriental Carpathians and includes 18 Nature 2000 sites, spreading over 6 counties: Vrancea, Covasna, Harghita, Bacău, Neamţ and Mureş.

About the Wolf

 The wolf’s spread in Europe is not uniform, and the main problems are habitat fragmentation and the isolation of small populations.

The Carpathian Mountains, extending over seven countries, (Romania, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine) host the second largest wolf population in Europe, surpassed only by that of Russia. In Romania, official data indicate a population between 2000 and 2700 individuals, spread over 9 million hectares, mostly in areas of high hills and low mountains throughout the entire Carpathian range.

Although Romania boasts one of Europe’s largest wolf populations, the species is subjected to multiple pressures and threats, such as habitat fragmentation, poaching, conflicts with hunters and a lack of management from authorities. 2.png

 “Despite the fact that, at national and international levels, wolves are protected by a series of laws and treaties, such as the Bern Convention, the CITES Convention, the 92/43/EEC Directive and the Romanian Law on Hunting, no significant steps were taken in Romania for truly protecting this species and, most importantly, for ensuring its long-term viability in the Carpathians, The lack of a national management plan and the absence of data on the structure and dynamics of wolf populations can lead to the implementation of inappropriate measures which can impact the species’ existence in the long run” declared Silviu Chiriac, Project manager for the Vrancea Environmental Protection Agency.

About the Project

The WOLFLIFE Project is an answer to the problems and threats previously mentioned and aims to provide the institutions, organizations and individuals involved in the management of wolves and their habitats with the best practices for ensuring a peaceful coexistence and a balance between preserving the wolf and ensuring a sustainable development of local communities.

Furthermore, data obtained through the project will form the starting point in creating a national action plan for maintaining a viable wolf population. Additionally, the project envisions the implementation of pilot solutions for managing the conflicts occurring between man and wolf, by transferring best practices to target groups, such as farmers and hunters.

Another important goal of the WOLFLIFE Project is preventing the decline of wolf populations, by reducing mortality, decreasing competition with other species, limiting poaching and ensuring connections between habitats and protected natural areas.

The negative image of the wolf among local communities is yet another significant threat for the species. Because an important aspect of this project is the change of perception towards the wolf, WOLFLIFE aims to measure, through a sociological research, the attitudes and perceptions of stakeholders towards wolves. Subsequently, based on the results yielded by this research, educational and awareness-raising actions will be implemented in order to help people better understand the species and its role in the ecosystem and to mitigate conflicts between man and wolf

 “The wolf is wrongly seen in a negative light, based on legends, folk tales and terrifying hunting stories. We wish to change this image through our project and show that wolves play an essential role in maintaining the viability of wildlife and in preserving healthy, natural ecosystems which are valuable for us, economically, socially, ecologically, scientifically and in terms of tourism” added Silviu Chiriac.

For more information:

www.facebook.com/wolf.conservation 

Or

Silviu Chiriac, APM Vrancea, Project Manager,

vrancealife@yahoo.co.uk , mobile phone number: 0727774144

Article written by Magda Baidan and translated by Mihail Mitoseriu.

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