Country Profiles

Republic of Moldova - Country Profile

Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

The Republic of Moldova is located near the Carpathian Mountains, the Black Sea, and the East European Plain in the southeastern part of Europe. Occupying a landlocked area of 33,843 km2, the country is surrounded by Ukraine on its northern, eastern and southern boundaries and by Romania in the west. The relief of the country comprises a hilly plain, gradually sloping from the northwest to the southeast, with altitudes varying between 5 to 429 metres, and an average elevation of around 147 metres above sea level. The country straddles three main European eco-regions: the Central-European mixed forests, the Pontic steppe and the East European forest steppe. Many species typical for each of these regions are at the limits of their natural ranges in Moldova. Steppe zone biodiversity has been more affected by human activities than forest zone biodiversity (found in the central and northern parts of the country), which has led to a non-uniform distribution of biodiversity. Agricultural lands cover around 75% of the country. In addition, there are 484 rare plant and animal species protected by the State, 242 of which have been included in the Red Book. By the end of 2014, a new edition of the Red Book of the Republic of Moldova will be published. The surface of protected areas has recently increased considerably, now covering 5.61% of the country’s territory.

Relative to its size, the country has a rich biota, especially considering that its highest elevation point is only 430 metres above sea level. Approximately 15% of the country remains under some form of natural vegetation cover, however much of this is in a degraded state. The bulk of this natural vegetation cover comprises forest habitats. Moldova is rich in species diversity in spite of the absence of mountains and moderate variations in climate. There are no known endemic species in Moldova. The country hosts 1,842 species of vascular plants and nearly 4,600 species of lower plants and fungi. A number of large faunal species have completely disappeared from Moldova over the last 50 years. While the greatest diversity of vertebrates is recorded in forests (172 species), 153 (89%) of these species are recorded in forests associated with meadows; the highest diversity of vertebrates recorded in Moldova is found in the forests of Codrii. The country’s river corridors and associated wetlands are particularly important for migratory birds.

Under current climatic conditions, about 512 endangered plant species in the Republic of Moldova are within the risk zone, representing 27.4% of the total number. Out of all species of vascular plants in the risk zone, the most dependent on current climate and weather conditions are the plants from forest ecosystems and rocky ecosystems. The obvious increase in anthropogenic influences on Moldovan flora has caused significant changes to the structure of the vegetation cover. The invasion of sinatropic species into degraded natural ecosystems hampers the restoration processes of natural biocenosis and affects their capacity to function.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The main factors affecting biological diversity in the Republic of Moldova are the following: infringements of environmental legal provisions by legal entities and individuals; lack or ineffective implementation of measures preventing the degradation of biodiversity; insufficient economic incentive measures for achieving CBD goals; inadequate use of scientific results and traditional measures in biodiversity conservation processes; unsatisfactory integration of biodiversity conservation requirements in economic and sectoral policies; a high degree of agricultural use of the national territory resulting in a disturbance to the ecological balance of landscapes; pollution of natural habitats; intense exploitation of plant and animal resources; significant reduction in budgetary allocations for the reproduction and regeneration of flora and fauna; unsatisfactory level of environmental knowledge held by the public.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

Adopted in 2000, the overall goal of the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy is the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of biodiversity and landscapes in order to ensure socioeconomic sustainable development in the Republic of Moldova. The Strategy implies the realization of 263 actions for achieving particular goals and strategic objectives, and outlines the terms for implementing them. Eleven action plans have been formulated, beginning with a general action plan for biodiversity conservation, followed by action plans for the creation of the national ecological network; protection of biodiversity in various types of ecosystems (e.g. steppe, meadow, petrophyte, aquatic and paludous, agricultural, urban); species protection; and biodiversity conservation outside natural habitats.

At present, the Republic of Moldova lacks a new NBSAP. The Strategy is being elaborated according to the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and will be approved by the end of 2014.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The Republic of Moldova is committed to expanding natural protected areas to 8.0% of its territory by 2020. A list of the plant and animal species of international and national importance has been elaborated. In this regard, the NBSAP provides measures for the protection of endangered species. In fact, the NBSAP comprises several elements related to implementation of the 2010 Biodiversity Target. Conservation of genetic diversity of spontaneous species and wild animals is ensured through scientific reserves, as well as zoological and botanical gardens. Legislation exists to regulate human activities, such as hunting and fishing. Also, national programmes have been elaborated to combat alien species, notably in the agricultural sector. In addition, traditional knowledge and practices are protected through traditional agriculture activities (the program on viticulture restoration for the 2002-2020 period is currently being implemented in this manner).

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

The main pieces of legislation related to the goals of the NBSAP include the: National Environmental Strategy for 2014-2023 (approved in 2014); Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development in Moldova 2014-2020 (adopted in 2014); National Programme on the Establishment of the National Ecological Network for 2011-2018 (approved in 2011); National Development Strategy (2008-2011); Strategy for Economic Growth and Poverty Alleviation; Moldovan Village (2005-2015) National Program; National Strategy for Sustainable Development in the Agro-industrial Complex (2008-2015); Strategy for the Sustainable Development of the Forestry Sector (adopted in 2001); EU-Moldova Action Plan (adopted in 2005); and the Strategy for Industrial Development until 2015.

At present, the Republic of Moldova lacks a plan for the sustainable financing of protected areas. According to current national legislation, financing protected areas (scientific reservations, national parks, biosphere reservations) shall be obtained from the state budget, extra-budgetary sources, an ecological fund, donations from legal and physical entities and other foreign sources. Annual scientific research programs are financed in accordance with state orders and from special budgetary funds administered by the General Scientific Council Fund of Natural State Protected Areas (state budgets are allocated financial sources for conducting scientific research only). In general, actions for protection, scientific re-evaluation, inventorying of protected areas and recovery have been financially supported by the National Ecological Fund and the Global Environmental Facility only. Although research funding for biodiversity has increased four-fold in recent years, this amount covers only one-third of the country’s current needs.

Some of the more notable capacity-building efforts undertaken by the Republic of Moldova relate to initiatives for the Sustainable Integrated Land Use of the Eurasian Steppe, TACIS (2007-2009); Support for Implementation of the National Biosafety Framework in Moldova, UNEP/GEF (2006-2010); Improving Coverage and Management Effectiveness of the Protected Area System in Moldova, UNDP (2009-2013); Support for the Ecological Emerald Network, Council of Europe (2009-2011); GEF/UNDP BD-EA: National Biodiversity Planning to Support the Implementation of the CBD 2011-2020 Strategic Plan in Republic of Moldova (2012-2013) and the Restoration of Steppe Habitats as Biotopes for endangered snake species in Dniester, Frankfurt Zoological Organization.

Regarding communication, education and public awareness-raising, the Ministry of Environment, in cooperation with NGOs (e.g. Biotica, MEM, Ave Natura, Eco-Tiras, REC-Moldova, Ecospectr), campaign using various forms of mass media and conduct training, workshops, seminars and conferences at international, national and regional levels.

The Republic of Moldova has signed agreements on bilateral collaboration with Romania (1997), Belarus (1994) and the Ukraine (1993), which include activities linked to biodiversity conservation (e.g. protection of transboundary aquatic ecosystems, including plant and animal species; implementation of common actions for promoting the sustainable use and protection of migratory species; continuity of transboundary ecological corridors/networks on respective territories; agreements on important natural objects; harmonization of management programmes for transboundary protected zones). The Republic of Moldova takes an active part in regional multilateral cooperation programmes for the protection of the basins of the Black Sea and Danube River. At present, a project to extend the reserve in the Danube Delta is being prepared with Romania and the Ukraine. The Republic of Moldova, in collaboration with Bulgaria, Romania and the Ukraine, also participates in the elaboration of the Green Corridors for Migratory Species project. One of the more important common activities between the three countries is the extension of protected areas in the junction zone of the Prut and Danube rivers.

Of major importance are the common activities of the Republic of Moldova and the Ukraine on the creation of protected areas in the northwest basin of the Black Sea. The project "Management of Water Quality and Biodiversity Protection in the Lower Nistru River" has been implemented.

As a member of the European Council, the Republic of Moldova also contributes to implementing the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy.

Moldova recognizes the need to improve cooperation among the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry (MAFI), the Ministry of Environment (ME) and the Agency “Moldsilva” (AM). Information exchange between institutions is limited and, in addition, there is very little coordination among regulations that different state authorities follow. Rather, each institution is focused on implementing their respective programme, as opposed to being committed to join up with other institutions to optimize opportunities and integrate financial and human capacities in order to achieve a more efficient level of implementation.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

The main barrier to the implementation of research and monitoring programs is the limited amount of available financial resources and shortages of specialists. Research institutions have developed monitoring programs however, due to poor funding, their implementation is carried out within state protected natural areas only. Moreover, there is little official transparent data on monitoring, application of programs and outcomes achieved. Even if some aspects related to biological diversity (e.g. forestry or agriculture) are included in a report, it is difficult to evaluate implementation due to lack of a clear monitoring and reporting system.