Romania Review

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Romania review

The outcomes of this colourful week in Romania can be split into two areas. Firstly, the biological/ecological prospects for further study and secondly, the ecology of the group to allow better recognition of who is willing to do what to secure prospects of further trips and studies.

Thanks to Monica’s inclusion of Bogdan Dragomir and his hunting association it became very clear that wolves, bears, lynx and boar are provided with effective protection by Romanian authorities. We learnt that there is little or no violation of this protection due to former land management practices ruthlessly instilled through the Communist coop structure (thanks to Crispin). That golden jackals are not included in this group of threatened apex carnivores is extremely useful information (thanks to Martin) since these golden jackals are recovering their former ranges and expanding quite quickly now from Hungary. Any research into the hunting of golden jackals will be of immense value to the ecology of these mountain areas and prospects for researching these magnificent creatures should be advanced.

If this trip to Romania is a typical example of Erasmus + then it’s a fabulous development unit for people and ideas but it needs focus and grip to achieve its full potential. This means both re gathering the group (for a collective working but fun exercise such as haymaking) and repeating the exercise a number of times. Evidence gathered across other community project working groups demonstrates that people invariably seek to work together and will find / support / develop useful projects once the prospects and resources for doing so are more certain. All that is needed to unlock this creative potential is the group exercise and a frequency of gathering to allow ideas to develop, actions to be planned and friendships to be made. (For more information see Journal of Royal Forestry Society Vol 1 No 1 p 33-38).

The remainder of this report is structured in bullet form taken from notes based on conversations during the trip and supporting emails to consolidate perceived opportunities for group consideration and learning.

Assets/useful info

  • Erasmus v EuCan funding differences: Erasmas is cultural, EuCan is ecological
  • All in this group (save two Crispin/JB) full time employee’s unable/unwilling to investigate/coordinate follow up on trips (both Crispin/JB studied human ecology at Edinburgh)
  • Sarah Sayer of Yorkshire Dales National Park has a history of previous trips and a culture of sharing knowledge of them (Yorkshire Dales NP only one to have engaged with Erasmus+)
  • Sarah Sayers’ husband is a builder skilled in using traditional methods, materials and is familiar with solving micro development questions and willing to support a group in Ro
  • Romanian village commons/uplands reverting to scrub (Martin suggested coverage moving from 40% to 45% or more in last ten years (very similar situation happened in Slovenia)
  • This area of natural regeneration is wonderfully undisturbed natural wildlife habitat for butterflies/birds/boar
  • Upland villages already attracting mountain bikers/off road motorbikes from Austria
  • Everyone on this trip was asked if they would return to support development of eco-lodges for wildlife tourism and everyone said they would like to
  • Heather Munro from SRUC suggested this was an opportunity she would explore for her horticulture/agriculture students in terms of placements
  • JB is part of a informal UK woodland network and will promote opportunities for others to support upland wildlife tourism in Romania (and pay)
  • Crispin was a lecturer in the Centre for Human Ecology at Edinburgh Uni. Human ecology is all about how people work together for environmental benefits.

Next steps

  • JB will help organise and support a scything fair in Scotland with either Crispin/Dave or both to gather this group again to find out what we can do next
  • JB will explore and research the Scottish hutting and reforesting movement to establish links to remote community groups for potential cultural exchange projects
  • JB will approach friends inside other National Parks (notably Lake District NP) to see if more can be done to support wider community / wildlife tourism / cultural exchanges in Romania (http://www.ruslandhorizons.org/the-area/working-valleys.aspx)

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