In partnership with a local NGO, Asociaţia Zarand, Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has commenced a new EU funded LIFE project in Romania, LIFE Connect Carpathians (LCC). The project area, known as the Apuseni Link, is located in western Romania and consists of a network of Natura 2000 sites established to protect an ecological corridor allowing the movement of wildlife species, including bears and wolves between the Apuseni Mountains and Southern Carpathians.

The LCC Project contributes to FFI’s broader programme of work within the Zarand Initiative, a landscape corridor initiative, which aims to deliver integrated conservation in the area. The corridor is a living landscape and it is critical that any approach taken to conserve the connectivity and its species be integrated, delivering conservation in ways that also take into account the needs and values of local people who live and work in the landscape. Therefore we engage with local people and national stakeholders to build their support for the initiative and demonstrate social benefits linked to conservation. Our aim is to deliver social interventions that strengthen and diversify income streams and in doing so reduce vulnerabilities and motivate the community. The LCC Project will explore a cultural values approach which will demonstrate understanding of how the community values the landscape and biodiversity. As a result, these values will be integrated into conservation activity, demonstrating to local people how the programme addresses their priorities.

The LCC Project focuses on enhancing functional connectivity by securing and restoring critical habitat and landscape features such as corridors through connectivity ‘pinch points’, and on the promotion of sympathetic land management in the wider area. By bringing together stakeholders involved in land management in the Apuseni Link region, the LCC Project will develop and implement integrated landscape scale conservation measures that enhance biodiversity and benefit stakeholders. The project will ensure that conservation activities consider the needs of stakeholders, enhance the Favourable Conservation Status of wolves and bears and generate positive biodiversity outcomes.