“Biodiversity conservation through viable alternative solutions in the Retezat National Park,” is a project started in May 2006, run by Green Cross Romania (GC Romania) with UNDP and the PAN Park Foundation (a WWF initiative aimed at conserving areas with high levels of biodiversity) as its main donors.
The aim of the project is to support the local community, whose economy is currently based on exploiting resources from the National Park, and to offer them viable alternatives for economic growth that will have a minimal impact on conservation areas.
Two alternative economic activities were identified: ecotourism and Christmas tree production. The economic and social benefits from both ecotourism, with responsible tourism operators, and Christmas tree production are a trade-off with the local communities so that they decrease pressure on harvesting forests in the National Park.
In 2007, Retezat became a full member of PAN Park, with extensive support from GC Romania, the Association of Ecotourism in Romania, and the United State Agency for International Development. The project will continue offering assistance to the region until the end of 2007, with a view to maximizing the Retezat National Park’s benefit to the local population.