Reference Regions

Reference Regions » Southern Romanian Carpathian mountains (Romania)
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Southern Romanian Carpathian mountains (Romania)

Description of the Reference Region

The Southern Romanian Carpathians, also named Transylvanian Alps, are one of the largest wilderness landscapes of Europe’s. The Southern Romanian Carpathians are composed mainly of hard crystalline and volcanic rocks, which give the region the massive character that differentiates it from the other divisions of the Carpathians.

The Piatra Craiului National Park is a high-quality tourist destination which is widely considered as one of the “jewels in the crown” of the Southern Romanian Carpathians.

The National Park is only accessible by gravel roads and hiking trails, but attracts more than 110,000 visitors per year and this is putting increasing pressure upon the local environment, including inappropriate “spill-over development” from the neighbouring villages of Bran and Moeciu.

Selected Value Chain

The selected value chain (VC) is certified ecotourism, a well-suited approach for the sustainable development of the local economy of the Piata Craiului National Park. The region is one of the 10 ‘eco-destinations’ promoted by Association of Ecotourism in Romania (AER).

A range of certified ecotourism services are offered in the Zărneşti – Piatra Craiului region in partnership with the National Park Authority and a variety of local businesses.

Land use in the Piatra Craiului National Park is a combination of traditional semi-subsistence pastoralism and deciduous forest, but the landscape is dominated by a 25 km long limestone ridge with deep gorges and caves. This creates a unique mountain landscape highly appreciated nationally and internationally, but it is also a fragile landscape and vulnerable ecosystem that is under growing pressure. The traditional rural identity of the area has been increasingly eroded by an ‘urban-type’ over-development which increasingly discourages more discerning foreign visitors whilst continuing to appeal to the domestic visitor.

Certified ecotourism is a key component of the strategic planning and management of rural / mountain tourism at all levels – and needs to be actively promoted as such.

Multi-Actor Platform (MAP) members

The Multi-Actor Platform will comprise a diversity of stakeholders, among which we mention public authorities and policy makers (Piatra Craiului National Park Administration, National Mountain Area Agency, National Agency for Protection of the Environment and local Mayor’s offices), researchers (Transilvania University of Braşov), NGOs (Association of Ecotourism in Romania, WWF – Danube Carpathian Programme, Mountain Guides and Mountain Leaders Society and Local development NGOs), producers (small-farmers, grassland managers and foresters), business (local accommodation providers, traditional/artisan food producers), local guides, providers of specialist activities and other eco-tour operators), innovation brokers/advisors, and local action groups.

Publications & events

MOVING Leaflet

Practice Abstract (2nd set): Better governance and decentralization of funding for sustainable mountain tourism in the Southern Romanian Carpathians (EN & RO)

Article: The future of Țara Făgărașului (Romania): how can the local community collaborate for a common future?

Video: Vulnerability and resilience of the certified ecotourism (RO & EN)

Practice Abstract (1st set): Certified Ecoturism value chain analysis in the Zărnești – Piatra Craiului ’eco-destination’

Article: Feeling the pressure of inappropriate development in Southern Romanian Carpathians

Article: Innovative and sustainable tourism in mountains regions

Policy Brief: Certified Ecotourism

Video: MOVING: Valorizarea Lanțului Montan prin Interconectare și Dezvoltare Verde


Mark Redman
Highclere Consulting