Country Profiles

Romania - Country Profile

Biodiversity Facts

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

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Romania lies at the geographic centre of Europe and possesses five of the ten biogeographic regions officially recognized by the European Union (alpine, continental, panonic, pontic, steppe), making it the most biogeographically diverse country of the EU. It is also the only country of the EU to possess steppe and pontic regions. The natural integrity of Romanian forest ecosystems is indicated by the presence of the full range of European forest fauna, including brown bears, wolves and lynx. Natural and semi-natural ecosystems cover approximately 47% of Romania’s territory. Naturally occurring systems include alpine grassland steppes, and semi-natural systems include calcareous grasslands, mat-grass sward on acidic soil and humid or mesophilic grasslands used as meadows.

Since almost half of Romanian forests, comprising 13% of the territory, have been managed for watershed conservation rather than production, Romania has one of the largest areas of undisturbed forest in Europe. However, these forests face a serious challenge in the immediate future, with approximately 30% slated for restitution to families of former landowners, a measure that has previously been known to result in large-scale deforestation in favor of immediate economic gain. Agricultural lands cover some 30% of the country. Native steppe and steppe-associated wet meadows have been systematically converted to cropland and pastures. The extent of loss of steppe is not thoroughly documented, however less than 10% remains of some types of grassland and shallow marsh ecosystems that were once common in Romania, and there is an obvious trend of desertification on 20% of the total arable land.

Romania’s Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve is the third largest in Europe and home of Europe’s second largest wetland. It contains the greatest expanse of reed beds worldwide and one of the world’s largest wet habitat zones. The hydrological network of Romania has a total length of 65,000 km. The aquatic ecosystem is rich in diversity and includes the Black Sea, rivers, floodplains, glacial lakes, subterranean karst cavities and caves, coastal wetlands, bogs and mountain rivers. The bogs produce rich topsoil and provide unique habitat for different species. Romanian caves provide an invaluable record of quaternary geology in this part of the world. Today, more than 10,000 caves are known, 8,000 of which are located in the southwest. In spite of the poor conditions offered by a cold dark climate, life is flourishing in many Romanian caves that possess, for instance, a high level of bat diversity. Furthermore, the Black Sea offers a variety of conditions for harnessing assorted resources, such as underground reservoirs of petroleum and natural gas, fish fauna and resources for tourism and leisure development.

The total area of the country is almost equally divided into mountains, hills and plateaus, and plains and meadows. The significant variety of flora and fauna in Romania is derived from the complexity of the country’s relief. Major grasslands, caves and an extensive network of rivers, add to the richness of ecosystems. However, the expansiveness of grasslands is declining due to encroachment by agricultural development. Romania is also a critical transit area for birds migrating within Europe.

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

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Invasive species constitute a major problem for agriculture, forests and fisheries. Also, the new agriculture-dominated landscape and urban influences have negatively affected rivers and wetlands, which, combined with poaching and dredging, have contributed to significant losses in commercial fishing in recent years. The draining of wetlands, elimination of native riparian vegetation, impoundment and channeling of streams and rivers have all taken a serious toll on local aquatic resources in Romania. These activities have impacted most significantly on the lower Danube River, the Danube Delta and on the Black Sea coastal ecosystem. The wetland system is also endangered by agricultural fertilization, application of pesticides, mechanization and engineered drainage. During the past three years, there are noticeably more sulphur dioxide emissions, especially due to the increase and revival of the industrial sector.

Soil erosion produced by water and wind, along with land sliding, lead to a soil loss of 41.5 tons/ha annually. Also, soil salinization predominantly on irrigated or drained lands and soil compaction contribute to soil deterioration. Moreover, mat-grass sward on acidic soil and humid or mesophilic grasslands used as meadows are being affected by human activities, such as road building, industrial development and urban sprawl.

The herpetofauna is mainly threatened by the destruction of habitats (deforestation, mining, reed burning, pollution, etc.), road kills (especially during the mating period), and poaching (despite legislation providing sanctions, the lack of an effective control mechanism leads to real massacres of brown turtle adults prior to reproduction each springtime).

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Biodiversity objectives established for Romania, in order of priority, include: the development of the legislative framework and institutional capacity; the organization of the national network of protected areas; the conservation of species with high economic value; the integration of the NBSAP into national, sectoral and local strategies and policies; and the protection, conservation and restoration of biodiversity outside protected areas and of biodiversity specific to agro-systems.

Existing efforts are important however are not properly consolidated to support decision-making processes. Therefore, a comprehensive Clearing-House Mechanism is an urgent priority to overcome this current deficiency and will be established through the UNDP-GEF project on support for alignment of the NBSAP with CBD obligations and development of the CHM.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Water quality is evaluated according to the methodology and principles of the Integrated Monitoring System of Waters in Romania (SMIAR), which was restructured according to the requirements of the European Directives. The national system for water monitoring consists of two types of monitoring: surveillance monitoring with the aim of evaluating the state of all water bodies within hydrographic basins, and operational monitoring of water bodies that fail to achieve the objective of water protection.

The project “Identifying Important Areas for Plant Protection and Conservation in Romania” was coordinated at the national level by the Association of Romanian Botanical Gardens (ARBG), and involved experts from 16 institutions in the field (ministries, universities, research institutes, botanical gardens, national parks). The project contributed to the alignment of scientific research on flora and vegetation with international standards, and helped to identify, based on scientific grounds, some areas in Romania which should be prioritized for vegetal diversity conservation at global and European levels. A total of 276 IPAs (Important Plant Areas) have been identified, covering 5% of the country, of which 210 are located within protected areas. Further to this, the implementation of a database project to manage data on identified IPAs, assess their current state of protection and support further measures, provides government institutions with the necessary scientific information to implement the objectives of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation.

Responsibility concerning environmental protection falls under the central authority for environmental protection and its territorial agencies. The central authority consults centralized specialized responsible authorities, elaborates technical regulations for the protection, conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. Landholders (with any title) who apply conservation measures established by the central authority for the environmental protection are tax-exempt, while private landholders are compensated according to the value of the restoration work carried out.

Air quality in Romania is monitored hourly or daily at 51 stations, 23 of which are part of the automated air quality monitoring network. Pollutants such as SO2, NO2/NOx, CO, benzene, suspension powders, lead and ozone pollutants are monitored and evaluated in accordance with the Order of the Minister of Waters and Environmental Protection No. 592/2002 aligned with the requirements stipulated in European Regulations. In monitored areas, air quality has slightly improved except in relation to nitrogen oxides. Some energy-intensive industries have reduced their activities which has resulted in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Tourism infrastructure often requires large land areas and, in order to compensate for the destruction of landscape and ecological functions, “in kind” benefits may be asked for, such as the establishment of new biotopes or the expansion of existing ones. The area where such measures are enforced is protected from long-term intensive utilization. A system often applied is the “Polluter Pays Principle” however it is recognized that this is not a way to create regular additional incomes for implementing conservation projects.

Orders for establishing the prohibition period for fishing, issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Environment, are updated annually.

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

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Romania has a comprehensive legal framework that can be directly or indirectly applied to environmental protection. There is however a lack of clear regulations for ensuring actions regarding technical and scientific cooperation. Also, there is an unbalanced distribution of investments in the field of nature conservation, and the capacity of institutions to attract financial resources is insufficiently developed. Romania has benefited from GEF technical and financial assistance for enabling activities.

Despite existing databases for biodiversity, there is no coordination point for data integration and information management in Romania. The major difficulties are related to unclear land ownership within and near protected areas, insufficient staff (particularly in Park Administration Units), reorganization of environmental agencies and lack of economic compensation mechanisms.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

A system for biodiversity monitoring has not yet been established, however some wild species and habitats are included in programs and research projects undertaken by universities, museums, research institutes and some NGOs.