McGregor & Partners has helped Fauna & Flora International acquire 115 hectares of land in Transylvania to provide a key corridor for large carnivores as part of the EU’s Life Connect Carpathians project.
Fauna & Flora International is the world’s oldest international wildlife conservation organization. A registered charity in the UK, it is active throughout the world as a promoter of sustainable co-existence of wildlife and human populations.
According to a McGregor & Partners press release, "Romania is home to a wide range of plant and animal life and supports key populations of large carnivores, including around 40% of Europe’s brown bears. The Zarand landscape corridor plays a vital role in the conservation of these charismatic animals, located at the heart of a landscape corridor that runs between the Apuseni Natural Park (in the Western Carpathians) and the Retezat National Park (in the Southern Carpathians) in the south-western corner of Transylvania. This corridor is the only remaining intact route through which bears and other large carnivores can move between the Central and Southern Carpathians. The maintenance of its integrity is vital for the conservation of the Apuseni bear population, which may be at risk of genetic isolation.
Although people have lived in the area for centuries, the Zarand corridor retains an element of wilderness thanks to the traditional, low-impact practices of local communities. In recent years, however, this important ecological corridor has come under increasing threat from large-scale infrastructure development, intensified forestry practices, loss of traditional agricultural practices, as well as more intensive small-scale farming, and the threat is exacerbated by socio-economic decline of rural communities.
The Zarand landscape is a key focal site for the work in Romania of Fauna & Flora International. FFI works with the Zarand Association to protect the Zarand region’s diverse and distinctive landscape by improving connectivity between the two National Parks, promoting land management that support biodiversity, restoring habitats and landscape features, addressing human-wildlife conflict, informing policy and raising awareness. FFI also works to improve local livelihoods by supporting small-scale sustainable agriculture and other rural business enterprises. To achieve these aims, FFI needs to control a large area of suitably-located land in the Zarand corridor. FFI has been assisted by funding from the EU’s LIFE+ program, but the task of acquiring suitable land is complicated by the multitude of individual ownerships of plots of land in the area, shortcomings in the title documents to land, much of which is not registered, and by the restrictions imposed by the EU to prevent speculation in land."
FFI needed a cost-effective solution to safely acquire large quantities of land, split into numerous individual titles, but not affected by the development of transport infrastructure in the area. In May 2016 FFI instructed McGregor & Partners to deal with this task." McGregor & Partners Partner Neil McGregor led the firm's team.
Finally, according to McGregor & Partners, "the work has now resulted in the identification and successful acquisition of approximately 115 hectares of land, split into more than 436 individual titles, providing FFI with control over a viable ecological corridor through the area."