Văcărești Natural Park Association (VNPA) was established in 2014 by a group of specialists in nature protection and the management of protected areas, who developed the project of establishing the park at a time when it seemed to be a utopia.
The project of placing under the protection of the law and administering, according to ecological principles, an oasis spontaneously formed over 25 years in the center of the capital city started in 2012 after the publication of the article "The delta among the blocks" in the May issue of the National Geographic magazine. The article, signed by Cristian Lascu and Helmut Ignat (photographs), disclosed the place's biodiversity to the general public and launched the idea of a nature park in the V IUCN category for the Văcărești "hole".
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 România, Salvați Dunărea și Delta (Save the Danube and the Delta) Association and Ecopolis. They mobilized human and financial resources in order to develop the Scientific Substantiation Study necessary for declaring the area protected. Thus, several volunteers joined the team, covering several areas of expertise, such as: Cristian Mihai – ornithology (he participated, with the data collected during the 2007-2011 visits, to the drawing up of the lists containing the species of insects, batrachians, reptiles, birds and mammals in the area); Irinel Popescu – entomology; Laura Zaharia – public communication; George Bouroș – specialist in the protection and study of otters; Dragoș Ștefan Măntoiu – specialist in the protection and study of bats; Claudia Blagu –GIS specialist.
In 2013, on the basis of the substantiation Study, the Romanian Academy, through the Natural Monuments Committee, approved the set up of the protected natural area.
The members of the initiative group conducted continuous and transparent lobbying, through the means specific to the civic intervention: photography exhibitions, conferences on environment protection and urbanism themes, volunteer field actions, the distribution of brochures and other informative materials, public communication on the social networks. The public communication actions were joined by numerous work meetings with public officials or high dignitaries from the Ministry of the Environment, the General Mayor's Office and the district mayor's offices.
We have been encouraged in this undertaking by:
Dan Dimăncescu, Honorary Consul of Romania in Boston
Tobias Salathe, Ramsar Senior Advisor for Europe: “Văcărești will be one of the innovative and pioneering world projects in the field of urban wetlands”
Sergiu Oprescu, President of Alpha Bank and of the Romanian Bank Association
Chris Rostron, Head of Wetland Link International
In 2014, on the international day of the environment, APNV inaugurated the PNV Observatory, set up with the support of Alpha Bank and Asmita Gardens, on the 17th floor of one of the high rises in the Asmita Gardens residential complex. The guests of honor included the Ambassador of Argentina.
In 2016, the Văcărești Nature Park, the first urban nature park in Romania, was established by Government Decision no. 349/2016.
During the meeting for entrusting the protected natural areas for management purposes, organized by the Ministry of the Environment in December 2016, APNV participated with a complex project of biodiversity preservation, scientific research, education and healthy recreation in the PNV, the key message of which is ”Nature at your doorstep!”
Following the results of the assessment conducted by the awarding Committee, the Ministry of the Environment put APNV in 2017 in charge of the management of the park for a period of 10 years, according to management Contract no. 3370/GLG/April 7, 2017. For the park's management, APNV wishes to work in partnership with the Bucharest Municipality's Mayor's Office and with a series of other institutions with experience in nature preservation, research, environment protection, ecological reconstruction, such as: the Faculties of Biology, Geography and Geology of the Bucharest University, the ”Ion Mincu” faculty of Architecture and Urbanism, the ”Nicolae Manoleli” Study Center for Ecosystem Services, the Bucharest ”Dimitrie Brîndză” Botanical Garden, the ”Grigore Antipa” Museum of Natural Sciences, the Kogayon Association, WWF România, the Romanian Ornithological Society, the Aquaterra Association, BikeXpert.
For the project of establishing the first urban nature park in Romania, APNV was awarded first prize at the Civil Society Gala in 2017.
Also, in 2017, APNV was honored to receive visits from important personalities, such as: HRH The Prince of Wales, Tim Flannery, the ambassador of the USA, the ambassador of the UK.
In the future, we wish to promote and to preserve the largest green area of Bucharest, to promote environment education, while at the same time offering opportunities of recreation in a wild area in the center of the capital city. We also wish for the partnerships initiated with relevant institution in Norway and the USA to materialize, so that the scientific research of the area and the consolidation of the exchanges of experience in the protected area management may continue.