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Adaptation in Carpathian Mountains



The Carpathian Mountains are the second longest mountain system in Europe covering an area of about 210,000 square kilometers. Seven countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Republic, and Ukraine) share the territory of the Carpathian region, five of them are EU members.


The Carpathian mountain region is one of the most significant and richest nature refuge on the European continent. The Carpathian Mountains are home to approximately 30% of the  European flora and to Europe’s largest populations of brown bears, wolves, lynx, European bison and rare bird species including the globally threatened Imperial Eagle. Besides the natural diversity, the semi-natural habitats such as mountain pastures and hay meadows, which are the result of centuries of traditional land management, are of great ecological and cultural importance. WWF included the Carpathian region in the “Global 200” worldwide list of eco-regions noted for exceptional levels of biodiversity. The Carpathian mountain region provides important ecosystem goods and services such as food, fresh water, forest products and tourism and is part of three major river basins: the Danube, the Dniester (to the Black Sea) and the Vistula (to the Baltic Sea).

The Carpathians serve as a bridge between Europe’s northern and south-western cultures resulting in a wide cultural variety.

Threats to the environment of the Carpathian Mountains

Land abandonment, habitat conversion and fragmentation, deforestation, unsustainable forestry and agricultural practices and  pollution are resulting in the loss of the Carpathian landscape and biodiversity. The main drivers for this are socio-economic developments and climate change. Land abandonment and habitat loss are most significant in remote areas at higher altitudes where traditional farming cannot compete with modern agriculture. Habitat conversion and fragmentation are mostly related to unsustainable tourism and infrastructure development while agriculture is the main source for the pollution of surface and groundwater. Climate change, causing changes in precipitation patterns, snow cover and temperature, intensifies the processes described above.

Climate change and adaptation in the Carpathian Mountains

The current and projected impacts of climate change have initiated a series of EU funded projects including:

  • CARPATCLIM aimed at harmonizing climate data from 1961-2010 and making these available in a gridded database;
  • CarpathCC in which a series of vulnerability studies were carried out and adaptation measures evaluated;
  • CARPIVIA during which the vulnerability of the Carpathian region’s main ecosystems and ecosystem-based production systems were assessed and adaptation options were proposed.