LEGAL AND INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK
FOR
BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION
AND
SUSTAINABLE USE OF ITS COMPONENTS



Overview

International Agreements

Existing Legislation

Conservation Administration and Policy

Research and Scientific Activities

The Role of NGO's


Overview

Romania has demonstrated its interest in, and commitment to the conservation of biodiversity and natural areas by signing international agreements, the passage of national regulations and the designation of a large number of protected areas. Despite these efforts, Romania has experienced difficulties in implementing policies and strategies to achieve effective biodiversity conservation. Beside a lack of financial resources, there is a lack of appropriate institutional structures for biodiversity conservation.

Within Romania there is a good foundation of scientific research and well trained scientists. However, scientific research is largely uncoordinated, and the collected data and information are neither centralised nor easily accessible. A well-defined and co-ordinated institutional structure for evaluating, monitoring and managing protected areas in Romania is needed.

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International Agreements

Romania has ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity and this is legally binding within Romanian law. This fact not only underscores Romania's commitment to the principle of biodiversity conservation, but also provides legitimacy for incorporating biodiversity protection into the Romanian regulatory framework. A difficult task has been to incorporate biodiversity conservation principles effectively into coherent policies in all economic sectors, to develop and implement effective management plans for protected areas and to achieve the enforcement of relevant laws.

Romania is also an active participant in regional environmental initiatives such as the Danube Environmental Programme, the Black Sea Environment Programme, and the "Environment for Europe" process. The Danube and Black Sea Programmes, albeit focused mainly on water quality improvement, have recognised the important relationship existing between land-use management, water quality and biological diversity conservation.

International Conventions in the scope of biodiversity conservation, which Romania has ratified
Romania is a Contracting Party to seven international conventions related to biodiversity conservation, namely:
Convention on the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage (Paris) - ratified by Law 178/1990
Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Habitat for Waterfowl (Ramsar) - ratified by Law 5/1991
Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution (London) - ratified by Law 6/1993
Convention for the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern) - ratified by Law 13/1993
Biological Diversity Convention (Rio de Janeiro) - ratified by Law 58/1994
Convention on the International Trade with Endangered Species (Washington) - ratified by Law 69/1994
The Convention on Migratory Species (Bonn) - ratified by Law no. 13/1998.

According to Art. 11 of the Romanian Constitution, all international treaties ratified by Romania's Parliament become part of the internal legislation.


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Existing Legislation

A new law for Environmental Protection (Law no. 137/1995) was passed in December 1995, representing a framework law which is intended to be completed with an additional specific law regarding protected areas.

There are also various national laws and regulations relating to biological diversity and attempting to support nature protection and conservation in Romania.

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Conservation Administration and Policy

The largest part of the governmental responsibilities for nature protection and management belong to the Ministry of Waters, Forests and Environmental Protection (MWFEP) and the branches or agencies affiliated with the MWFEP. The Commission for the Protection of Nature Monuments of the Romanian Academy is the legal scientific authority for nature conservation and protected areas.

The national forestry authority manages more than 6,300,000 ha of forest and is commissioned to ensure its sustainable management. What is valuable about the Romanian forests is the large number of species, as well as the quality and size of the natural or almost natural forests.

Particularly important examples may be found in Piatra Craiului and Bucegi Mountains. These areas are valuable examples of the forests existing in Europe previously, and can be an important biological reserve and pattern for the restoration of forests in other parts of Europe. In 1995 a national forestry management strategy was developed including short, medium, and long-term plans. Each of these plans contains regulations regarding the conservation of biodiversity in protected areas and forests. While there has been some encouraging progress in the management of forests, there are no such management plans for grasslands or steppe ecosystems within Romania as yet. These areas also comprise important species in need of protection.


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Research and Scientific Activities

Romania has a strong scientific research tradition in the scope of natural sciences. Various universities, organisations and institutions carry out scientific research. There is a national research programme in ecology, together with locally applied research programmes which address various aspects of biodiversity and nature conservation. A primary drawback results from the fact that research and scientific activities are not co-ordinated or prioritised. Furthermore, there is no centralised system for organising and disseminating information. An analysis of the various research activities should be undertaken in order to develop a coherent, focused, and cost-effective research programme for biodiversity conservation.

Not always connected with university and research programmes, there are a number of initiatives for ex-situ conservation in botanical gardens, parks, dendrological collections, flower collections, aquariums, terrariums, gene banks, and collections of micro-organisms that are of interest for agriculture, for food and other industrial sectors, and for a variety of other developing biotechnological applications.

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The Role of NGO's

Since the political changes in 1989, environmental NGO's have played an increasingly important role in addressing environmental issues in Romania. The number of NGO's has increased to almost 200 during the last years. NGO's, including highly professionalized groups and local volunteer organisations, have undertaken a wide range of initiatives, including pressure to achieve policy or management improvements and organising various field activities (garbage clean-up, species protection, warding etc.). Together with local, regional or international governments, agencies and institutions, NGO's have also organised or participated effectively in co-operative projects aiming at biodiversity conservation.

The Romanian government acknowledges the importance of public participation as well as the importance of NGO's in the democratic process. As yet, however, there are only limited official means for NGO's to voice their opinions or provide direct input into official decisions affecting the management of biodiversity.

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