The Apuseni – Southern Carpathians Corridor spans over 150 kilometres of the Romanian Carpathians, from the Apuseni Mountains in the north, to the Retezat – Țarcu Mountains in the south. This is a unique and culturally rich landscape which retains much of the biodiversity for which Romania is renowned.

This diverse and distinctive landscape results from centuries of use by local people and they continue to play a fundamental role in maintaining and enhancing the natural and cultural values of the region today.

However, this landscape is under pressure from a wide range of factors including intensified agricultural and forestry practices and large–scale infrastructure development, which can have both positive and negative impacts if not well-managed.  The socio-economic decline of rural communities is also leading to the degradation of the landscape, its nature and culture.LCC S.Tom Zarand ridge Apr 15 for Project Background

To address these pressures, Fauna & Flora International and Asociatia Zarand  are implementing a broad programme of work called the Zarand Initiative, which aims to ensure that this region remains a healthy well-managed landscape rich in natural and cultural values that is supported by local people.

The LIFE Connect Carpathians (LCC) project is a key component of the Zarand Initiative. The project is delivering a participatory approach to managing the landscape by bringing a wide range of interest groups together, including local people, and engaging them in activities designed to help maintain and enhance the natural and cultural richness of the region.

Beyond the LCC project, the wider Zarand Initiative is working with local communities to strengthen their livelihoods in a sustainable way. For example, we are supporting local communities to market traditional food products such as pumpkin oils and honey. We have also constructed a milk collection facility and started restoring culturally important buildings such as water mills. In this way, we hope to motivate and help local people to value their landscape and cultural heritage and to demonstrate that resource management and development in this beautiful and important landscape need not be damaging to nature or culture.