Boia Mica valley in Fagaras: Europe’s wildest valley deserves protection

Boia Mica is probably the wildest valley in the heart of Europe.

© Matthias Schickhofer/ EuroNatur/ Agent Green

Expedition into the wilderness of Boia Mica.

© Matthias Schickhofer/ EuroNatur / Agent Green

Romanian NGO calls for better protection of Europe’s virgin forest „hot spot” in Fagaras Mountains Natura 2000 site

Probably the wildest valley in the heart of Europe has been discovered recently in Romania. At the same time the Romanian NGO Agent Green warns today that this paradise could soon be destroyed. Boia Mica valley is a steep, remote valley with a large, untouched and almost inaccessible virgin forest. It is located in the Fagaras Mountains, one of the last strongholds of European large wilderness.

During the last years many primeval forests in the Fagaras Mountains have been logged and thus are destroyed forever. Some clearcuts in the Natura 2000 site covering most parts of the Fagaras Mountains spread over hundreds of hectares. The internationally active EuroNatur Foundation and Agent Green call on the Romanian Government to halt logging in the Fagaras Mountains instantaneously and to establish a national park, meeting the international IUCN criteria. Especially the outstanding Boia Mica valley deserves immediate action to prevent destruction.

“Boia Mica is located in the Natura 2000 site Fagaras Mountains. According to European legislation it is already protected. But apparently this alone does not prevent logging as we have seen in many negative examples and clear violation of the provisions of Natura 2000. The Romanian authorities urgently need to enforce nature protection in the Fagaras Mountains and in most of the Natura 2000 sites of the country,” demands Gabriel Schwaderer, Executive Director of EuroNatur. The upper part of Boia Mica is completely untouched, steep slopes and canyons have prevented it from logging and hydro dam plans so far. However, exploitation plans are already there.

“Boia Mica is one of the prime wilderness places as well as one of the largest and least accessible old-growth forests in Europe. I have seen most of Europe’s wild forests,” photographer and book author Matthias Schickhofer says, “Boia Mica is comparable to the most valuable sites such as Biogradska Gora national park (Montenegro), Perucica virgin forest (Bosnia and Herzegovina) or Polands Biolowieza forest. It would be a disaster for whole Europe, if it would be destroyed.”

Martin Mikolas, a Slovak forest scientist working at the Department of Forest Ecology at the University of Life Sciences in Prague, has been doing research in Boia Mica for many years and says: „We found there probably the oldest beech tree in Romania. We measured 480 tree rings. But because we did not get to the centre of the tree when measuring, the tree is certainly older. The real age could be between 500-520 years. Altogether, we found 15 trees older than 400 years in Boia Mică.”

In July 2016 Martin Mikolas, Matthias Schickhofer and Romanian forest experts visited other virgin forests sites in Fagaras as well, in particular Ucea Mare and Arpaselu. Besides, the Strambei valley near Sinca was researched by Romanian experts. The experts confirm that all those forests are untouched and comply fully with the Romanian legal criteria for virgin forest protection. However, none of these areas is officially registered as virgin forest yet. This means that they do not enjoy proper protection according to the Romanian forest law. Logging roads have already reached the borders of these virgin forests. Agent Green and EuroNatur urge the Romanian authorities to take immediate action and to save those wild places of European significance.

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