Vacaresti: A Wetland in Central Bucharest
„The park offers huge opportunities, for example as a centre of ecological education for the children of Romania’s capital, but there are challenges too, from littering to fire. The Vacaresti Natural Park Association has been establishing a range of international partnerships, including with the University of Arizona. And I was pleased to hear that UK connections are important to them. The London Wetland Center in Barnes, converted from disused Victorian reservoirs, and now both a major tourist attraction and important bird site, is seen as a model for the park. And the association has received encouragement from Wetland Link International, the organisation run by the UK-based Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, which runs the London Wetland Center.”
Wilde nature claims place in Romanian Capital
Vacaresti is the result of a communist-era plan to build a lake in southern Bucharest, one of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s many projects to overhaul the city.
Abandoned in 1989, it was a massive pit surrounded by a concrete embankment that hid it from view.
Nature took over and created 183 hectares (452 acres) of wilderness where experts have identified almost 100 species, including the protected red-breasted geese, egrets, Western marsh harriers, European pond turtles and otters.
(Read more on Reuters.com)
How nature turned a failed communist plan into Bucharest’s unique urban park
Published by The Guardian, 14 June, 2016
There are rarely ever more than a handful of people present when you visit Văcărești, Bucharest’s wild wetland just a 30-minute stroll from the city centre. Almost no one dares go down into the park itself; the perimeter wall – a five-metre concrete embankment that isolates this unique green space from the surrounding city – remains the favourite and safest spot.
Go to the Guardian site here
(KERP – Kino Environmental Restoration Project, Tucson, Az)
Potential collaboration between Vacaresti Nature Park and partners from Tucson, Arizona on wetlands, water and city sustainability.
Between May 11 – 18, the Director of Vacaresti Nature Park Association, Dan Barbulescu and Dan Dimancescu, Alianta board member and Vacaresti Nature Park advisor, visited University of Arizona and Pima County Administration, Tucson, AZ.
The result of the trip was an agreement to discuss joint research with a possible inclusion of three other international urban nature parks in cooperation with the CNRS (France), University od Arizona and Pima County Administration. Please find more details and photos here.
Văcărești Nature Park – a triumph of public interest, good citizenship and nature
Today, May 11, 2016, the Government passed the Decision for the establishment of the Văcărești Nature Park.
The Văcărești Nature Park Association salutes the authorities’ decision and announces the decision as a success of reason placed in the service of public interest.
The establishment of the Văcărești Nature Park is a clear example that a civic initiative that is promoted with perseverance and competence can be successfully completed, despite the numerous bureaucratic obstacles. The campaign for the establishment of the Văcărești Nature Park has lasted for 4 years.
The project for the placement under the protection of the law and for the management, in accordance with ecological principles, of a natural oasis that spontaneously appeared over 25 years in the center of the country’s capital city was commenced in 2012, after the publication of the „Delta between the blocks” article in the May issue of the National Geographic.
The article, signed Cristian Lascu and Helmut Ignat, disclosed the place’s biodiversity to the general public and launched the idea of a nature park of the V IUCN category for the Văcărești „pit”.
The campaign continued through the efforts of a group of environment protection experts and activists – Cristian Lascu, Helmut Ignat, Florin Stoican, Dan Bărbulescu, supported by four organizations – Kogayon, National Geographic Romania, the „Save the Danube and the Delta” Association și Ecopolis.
They mobilized resources, specialists and know-how and, in 2013, put together the Scientific Substantiation Analysis on the basis of which the Romanian Academy acknowledged the significance and the patrimonial value of the Văcărești ecosystem.
The members of the initiative group – officialized in 2014 as the Văcărești Nature Park Association, have carried out the difficult administrative process, obtaining the Notification of the Romanian Academy, the Notification of the Capital City’s General Council and, finally, the Government Decision for the establishment of the protected natural area. Over 100 working meetings in the presence of the authorities in charge were needed in order to complete this project.
Apart from said meetings, there were numerous photo exhibitions, conferences on environment protection and city planning, fieldwork with volunteers, distribution of brochures and other informative materials, public communication on social media.
The support of the press has also been very important. The main television channels have broadcasted reports and debates on the Văcărești Nature Park, there have been numerous articles in the print press, as well as radio shows.
The project has been supported by tens of thousands of people from Bucharest, who wrote to us, signed support lists and attented our events.
To all of the people who believed in our success and supported this endeavour, we say thank you!
“Over the last almost 4 years, we have heard the word „impossible” many times, but this hard-earned victory proved that „it is possible”. We hope that this encourages the cities’ communities in their fight for every square meter of real green space”, declared Helmut Ignat, nature photographer and founding member of the Văcărești Nature Park Association.
What nature has already accomplished must be protected without delay, by eliminating all human activities which have a negative impact, such as cutting trees, setting the reeds on fire, poaching, various forms of pollution, relocating stray dogs, acceptable solutions for those temporarily living inside the park. Last, but not least, one must clarify all land claim case files and find legal solutions to compensate the persons entitled.
In order to become a functional park, the protected natural area must be developed by the future administrator, within the limits provided for under the law for the „nature park” category („protected natural area, administered for land conservation and entertainment” – Exhibit 1 – Government Emergency Ordinance 57/2007) and on the basis of a management plan approved by the Ministry of Environment.
The establishment of a 184 ha park (equal in surface to the severely tested Herăstrău park), during an era of green space destruction is undoubtedly a heroic moment for the city of Bucharest.
Vacaresti Nature Park – an oasis in Bucharest city
The Vacaresti Nature Park is a wetland, formed on the site of a hydrotechnical project commenced by the Communist regime in 1986 and left unfinished. The area is located in Bucharest, 4 km away from the city center. It spreads over a surface of 183 hectares.
The observations and studies that have been developed for biodiversity assessment purposes since 2007 highlighted the area’s natural value. The Romanian Academy, the most significant scientific institution of Romania, favorably endorsed the Substantiation Note filed in 2013 in view of having a protection regime implemented.
From a natural point of view, the area is accessible especially to birds – over 90 bird species come to Vacaresti, mostly water species – herons, egrets, cormorants, mallards and wild geese (ferruginous ducks). Apart from the birds, we should also mention small mammals such as muskrats, foxes and weasels. We should add interesting species of reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. 5 otters – a species that is protected at European level – have been spotted. The presence of the otter is the best indicator of the Vacaresti ecosystem’s quality.
Apart from natural species and habitats, the area also offers a magnificent landscape and a very interesting contrast between the urban, anthropized area and the natural wetland with expanses of reed, swamps and wetland-specific trees and vegetation.
In a visit to Vacaresti in the summer of 2012, Tobias Salathe, RAMSAR Senior Adviser for Europe, declared: “Văcărești will undoubtedly be one of the most innovative urban wetland projects in the world”.
The Vacaresti Nature Park is to be approved by a Government Decision and its establishment process is an advanced stage of completion. The Vacaresti Nature Park Association is in charge of Vacaresti Nature Park’s establishment process and is actively involved in engineering the area’s future management.
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