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August 13, 2022

Prince Charles participates in Sibiu in launch of the largest transnational reforestation project in Europe

HRH The Prince of Wales launched a landscape restoration project in the Carpathian mountains, funded by his Circular Bioeconomy Alliance

Leading scientists, experts and practitioners met in Sibiu, Romania on 30 May to launch Europe’s largest cross border forest restoration project. The ThinkForest science-policy event celebrated a growing movement to restore forest biodiversity and advance the circular bioeconomy, for the benefit of people and the planet.

The event was opened by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, who the same day launched a landscape restoration project in the Carpathian mountains, funded by his Circular Bioeconomy Alliance and developed in collaboration with the Horizon 2020 project SUPERB.

The Romanian Minister of Environment, Waters and Forests Barna TÁNCZOS joined HRH for the opening of the event.

His Royal Highness emphasised in his opening speech that we have to rethink our economy if we want to rewrite our future. We need a circular bioeconomy, investing in three mutually reinforcing areas: biodiversity, innovation and local and indigenous communities. The rest of the world can learn from the way Romania has relied on regenerative approaches to create rich landscapes in areas such as Transylvania, where man lives in harmony with nature.

“This occasion today is of crucial importance because forests are literally the backbone of Life and Nature on our planet.  When forests first emerged about 380 million years ago the world was 10o C hotter and CO2 concentrations were ten times what they are today.  Forests made our planet more habitable, and their destruction will make it distinctly uninhabitable for humans and much other terrestrial life.  This is because forests are our largest terrestrial carbon sink, our main terrestrial source of water and the main host for biodiversity.  If managed sustainably and holistically, forests are also a key renewable resource necessary to transition towards a circular bioeconomy.  Such a transition is, I must say, urgently needed, because after relying for more than 100 years on a linear and fossil-based economy we have arrived at a tipping point.  The world, in many respects, has become too big for our planet,” HRH The Prince of Wales emphasized in his speech.

“So, for the health, security and livelihoods of our and future generations, we need to protect, invest and work in symbiosis with Nature. Our economy ultimately depends on us doing so.  Nature is estimated to contribute $125 trillion to the global economy annually, although I expect it’s much, much more than that.  Everything we use, produce and purchase ultimately has been created from Nature’s inputs.  The problem is that our current economic model, does not provide the right signals and incentives to the “markets” to work “for” and with Nature,” Prince Charles also said.

“Having arrived at such a tipping point, we need to rethink our economy if we want to rewrite our future,” he added.

The Prince of Wales mentioned that   helped to establish the Circular Bioeconomy Alliance, coordinated by the E.F.I., which works with partners around the world to invest in life and Nature rather than simply linear consumption.

“The Circular Bioeconomy Alliance is working with local communities in more than fifteen countries so far across four continents to restore thousands of hectares of land. Such work includes Romania too, because the intrinsic connection between our human life and natural capital is something that Romanian people have understood only too well for centuries,” HRH stated.

“ In no other place in Europe have I found such well-preserved and such productive landscapes, which can function at so large a scale.  This, in my view can be explained by the natural richness of Romania, where some of the largest remnants of old-growth forests on the continent can be found and where, for instance, 200 species of butterflies exist, compared to only forty in my country, the United Kingdom,” he also added.

“All who travel here have something to learn from the way Romania has been able to rely on regenerative approaches to create species-rich systems and socio-ecologically rich landscapes in areas such as Transylvania, where people still live in harmony with Nature.  This is not “old-fashioned, out of date and inefficient.”  It is, in fact, the very essence of sustainability based on a profound understanding of Nature’s principles and limits.  It is, above all, timeless wisdom in practice,” Prince Charles also stated.

“I hope some of you have a chance to see Romania´s rural landscapes during the following days.  Such landscapes that I have personally enjoyed for years have an almost spiritual but also social, economical and ecological significance, which should inspire other countries in Europe to restore the balance between Nature and society”.

HRH also emphasized that the biodiversity here, in Romania, remains for him unique in Europe: alongside the ancient mixed forest there is the size and quality of the major mammals such as bear, lynx and wolves; and incomparable upland and lowland ancient meadowland with commensurate wild flower riches.

“These ecosystems, this biodiversity, deserve our attention, for they are now at serious risk of destruction, I’m being serious, just at a point in time – this is the irony of all this – when they provide us with a critically important model for a circular, green economy that can, at last, attract investment in natural, social and cultural capital,” The Price of Wales also said.


The ThinkForest event also marked the launch of the 20m euro Horizon 2020 project, SUPERB, coordinated by the European Forest Institute. The project involves more than 100 forest science and practice organizations in 20 different countries and includes 12 large-scale forest restoration demonstration sites across Europe. One of the sites is located in the Romanian Carpathian mountains.

Marc Palahí, European Forest Institute Director and chair of the Circular Bioeconomy Alliance said: “Scientific collaboration is crucial to scale up successfully forest restoration in Europe in a context of rapid environmental changes and increasing demands on our forests. I am proud of EFI´s leadership in bringing together some of the leading scientists and practitioners in Europe to demonstrate why and how we can restore forest landscapes for different purposes and benefits.”

A new EFI science-policy study on Forest Biodiversity in Europe was also presented at the event. Written by a group of distinguished scientists from 10 European countries, the study provides policymakers as well as forest and landscape managers with a better understanding of the complex subject of biodiversity in the context of European forests.




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