European funds for Romania’s national parks

Romania’s Romsilva National Forestry Administration qualifies for European funds worth up to 40 million euros earmarked under the Sectoral Operational Programme Environment, for investment in national parks and nature reserves under its management, Romsilva Deputy Director Gheorghe Nichiforel told Agerpres on Wednesday.

‘Romsilva will submit 22 projects, worth 30-40 million euros in all, to the next session of the Sectoral Operational Programme Environment under which we intend to invest in the national parks and nature reserves under our care. We have the matching funds for the projects, which is 15-20 percent of the projects’ worth,’ said Nichifore l.

At the same time, 11 more projects already submitted in 2008 for the Sectoral Operational Programme Environment have been either approved or are about to be approved for an eligible value of 4 million euros.

‘The 22 national parks and protected areas of Romania are subsidiaries of Romsilva with their own legal personality and registered as thus with the Companies Registry.

We have signed the contracts with the leading board and the only problem is the lack of financial resources to cover the matching funds,’ said Nichiforel.

The investment projects submitted for European grants regard mainly the infrastructure of the 22 national parks, taking stock of the species living there, setting up visitor’s centres, as well as public education and tourist promotion of the national parks.

Romsilva’s initiative to win legal personality for the national parks and protected areas under its administration was repeatedly rejected in 2007 and 2008, although the eligibility for the projects submitted for the Sectoral Operational Programme Environment was prolonged.

Romsilva administrates 22 parks and protected areas, employing 327 workers and reporting annual spending in excess of 2.2 million euros.

The Retezat Park was Romania’s first national park, created in 1935. The total area of biosphere reserves, national parks and nature reserves in Romania is standing at 1,203,340 hectares, which is 5.04 percent of the country’s total area.

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