WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Wyss Foundation signed the paperwork to donate more than 16,000 acres (6,700 hectares) of forestland and alpine meadows in Romania’s Fagaras Mountains to Foundation Conservation Carpathia (FCC). FCC will restore the land and eventually transfer it to the Romanian government to be included in a Carpathia National Park, once such a park is established.
“Land conservation is a matter of international importance, and FCC has been doing wonderful work in Romania to restore land in the Fagaras Mountains,” said philanthropist Hansjörg Wyss, who founded the Wyss Foundation in 1998. “We are proud to support FCC’s important work and look forward to seeing Carpathia National Park someday.”
The Carpathian Mountains form some of the largest contiguous forests on the European continent with the highest percentage of still virgin woodlands. The land is rich in wildlife, including European brown bear, wolves, lynx, red deer, and chamois.
Starting in 2005, forests that had been nationalized began to be restituted to private individuals in Romania. This process triggered massive clear-cuts on these restituted lands and many thousands of hectares of forests were illegally logged, posing a severe threat to the integrity of the Carpathian ecosystem.
Since its founding in 2009, FCC has been working to purchase and restore 100,000 hectares (250,000 acres) of forestland and alpine meadows in Romania’s Fagaras Mountains, the highest mountains in the Southern Carpathians. FCC hopes to eventually transfer the land to the Romanian government to be included in a Carpathia National Park, once such a park is established.
The Wyss Foundation’s land donation is valued at over $16 million USD. Following the transfer, the Wyss Foundation will continue to support FCC’s acquisition, restoration, and management of FCC’s Carpathia project area.
The Wyss Foundation, which has long supported locally-driven efforts to conserve public lands in the American West, has broadened its conservation philanthropy in recent years to support the protection of wildlife in eastern Africa, the modernization of fishery practices, and environmental stewardship in Peru, Canada, Mexico, Columbia, and Argentina.