Vrancea represents a region where nature conservation has suffered one of the most dramatic developments in terms of protected area. This was drastically reduced in 2000, threatening the existence of habitats and species of conservative interest. In the year 2002, in Vrancea, activities related to biodiversity conservation were almost nonexistent.
To support the conservation actions of environment (including large carnivores), in 2002 started the first LIFE Nature project in Vrancea County, called "In-situ conservation of large carnivore in Vrancea County
" implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency Vrancea together with a number of partner institutions. After that moment, it was started a comprehensive program that includes protection of large carnivores and their habitat
, which used telemetry studies, an educational campaign, establishment the Bârseşti Demonstration Area for sheepfolds protection, establishment of an local ecological network of protected areas for large carnivores protection and other activities. Through this project we aimed to preserve, manage and restore viable populations of large carnivorous species Ursus arctos, Canis lupus
and Lynx lynx
as part of Vrancea County ecosystems, in coexistence with the local population.
The next LIFE NATURE project started in November 2005 and entitled "Enhancing the protection system for large carnivore in Vrancea
" came as a continuation of actions taken in previous LIFE project and wanted to be a lever necessary to strengthen the results obtained until that time . The purpose of the project was to enhance the protection system of large carnivore in Vrancea County and to link the protect network for large carnivores with European ecological network Natura 2000. During this project, for another four years, there have been undertaken a series of actions: proposals for the declaration of some Natura 2000 sites, management plans for these sites, setting up the unit of intervention to save wildlife (especially large carnivores), monitoring of large carnivores and prey by different methods (radio, GPS, non-invasive techniques), promoting protection systems for sheepfolds, orchards and crops among the local population in the project implementation area, as well as an awareness campaign for promoting local network for large carnivores protection and socio-economic benefits of European ecological network Natura 2000,and also for reducing poaching and conflicts between locals and carnivorous species covered in the project.
All those involved in these projects have tried and succeeded to implement wit success of actions envisaged. Therefore the activities for large carnivores conservation continued in the next period, the main objective being to extend the experience all these years, so achieving a large project aiming conservation of the Ursus arctos species, at the level of two other counties (Covasna and Harghita).
Thus, in early 2010, in January began the project LIFE+ Nature "Best practice and demonstrative actions for conservation of Ursus arctos specie in the Eastern Carpathians, Romania" under the coordination of EPA Vrancea, having as partners APM Covasna, APM Harghita Association for Conservation of Biological Diversity Focsani, Association for Natural Value Conservation Balan, aiming to preserve the most representative sample of the population of Ursus arctos in Romania, through the implementation of best practices and demonstrative actions in the central-eastern Carpathians. The project area is overlapping on habitats in which it is found the highest density of brown bears / ha in Europe (4.3 bears / 1,000 ha) in 2008 being estimated a population of 2,300 exemplars distributed Vrancea, Harghita and Covasna, ie the project area.
Through the implementation of this European project it will be apply a set of demonstrative actions and best practice, applied until now in the LIFE Nature projects in Vrancea County or other national and European regions. The concrete conservation actions such as saving poached bears, relocation of habituated bears, rehabilitation of orphaned bear cubs, effective protection of dens and by reducing cases of legal killing of bears as a result of the Risk Assessment Team (RAT) which will act in favor of amicable resolution of these cases, will help to expand the area of brown bears in Romania. Other activities are mainly related to field application of the species monitoring by different techniques, so that it can be provided a cost-efficiency ratio superior to those methods applied at national level. Implementation of awareness campaigns using educational materials and communication techniques previously checked show a good practice character and their impact will be analyzed through opinion questionnaires applied at the beginning and at the end of the project. Valuing of “bears friendly” products and those with origins in a Natura 2000 sites will improve the image of the species and protected areas among local communities.