Biodiversity conservation represents a key topic for our research center. At first, we approached topics related to conservation practices and natural resource management in Iron Gates and Banat Mountains areas, and then slowly the topics and study areas were extended.
Research on biodiversity is coordinated by renowned scientists such as Maria Patroescu, Laurentiu Rozylowicz, Viorel D. Popescu, Marius L. Matache. In the last years, new team members approached the biodiversity topics, e.g., Andreea Nita, Iosif Ruben, Mihai Pop.
One of the first studies was The Geoecological Study of the Romanian Danube Valley (1996-1998) which focused on spatial planning problems in the area and their projection in the environmental quality. In the same period, we carried out several additional studies such as The Environmental state in the intra-Carpathian basins and Planning, protection and management of natural and sensitive areas supporting Romania’s natural capital evaluation.
The first major project developed in the southwest of Romania was EU LIFE Nature LIFE00NATRO/0007171 Iron Gates Natural Park – management and conservation of habitats and species. The project had two adjacent themes: (i) Biodiversity, naturality and functionality characterizing the ecosystems in Banatului Mountains – protection, conservation, and social management and (ii) Habitats’ structure and distribution in the Iron Gates Natural Park. In the framework of this project we:
- established Iron Gates Natural Park Administration;
- founded a research station at Eselnita;
- implement concrete actions to protect the Hermann tortoise, the horned viper, and some bird species;
- carry out an extensive awareness campaign almost on the entire area of the park.
Also, three grants having as aim the conservation of Hermann tortoise were carried out with the support of Rufford Small Grant.
Between 2003 and 2010 we worked in Vrancea County for the protection of large carnivores (bear, wolf, and lynx) and we coordinated several conservation actions. We contributed to the establishment of Putna-Vrancea Natural Park in this area (the second important natural area created with our support) and we applied innovative study methods for large carnivores and for reducing the human-wildlife conflicts (radiotelemetry, cameras, electric fencing installations).
After 2005 we have started working to improve the management of Lower Prut Floodplain Natural Park where we have applied concrete conservation measures in order to improve the management of this wetland (channel construction, dams repair).
Currently, we are involved in several conservation planning projects, aiming at boosting the participative management in Natura 2000 areas from Romania.