It is not often that Romania’s image is associated with positive things. That is why I was nicely surprised to see Transylvania and the Carpathians featured both in the Financial Times (here) and on Travel Channel (video below), all in the last couple of months. What is even more important is that both reports, beyond praising the beauty of the Romanian landscape and its rural life stuck a few centuries ago, warn us about a problem that few are really aware of: the threat to the forest ecosystem in the Carpathian mountains.
The message is clear: the potential is there for great Eco-tourism initiatives, but the priority should be protecting the wild life and the rural life, enforcing a ban on illegal logging (that has been destroying the forests in the last two decades at a scary pace) and starting to value this natural heritage for its uniqueness. There have been many recent initiatives and NGO campaigns lobbying for the preservation of the Carpathian habitat but more often than not these are mostly coming from Western Europe, from organisations and people passionate about nature and charmed by the purity of the Romanian landscape. What is still missing, in my opinion, is a bit of “sense of ownership” by Romanians in all these plans and projects. And this can only be encouraged by a strong belief in the value of the natural habitat and its need for preservation. It is not enough to admire, one needs to be aware of the broader balance of the regional ecosystem, in which the Carpathian forests play an important part. It takes some effort, but it’s worth it!