System’s history

At European level, Romania is an important country from the biodiversity point of view. Here there still are large areas of agricultural land and semi-natural grasslands which are traditionally used. Even since 1995 the central part of Apuseni Mountains had become a research destination for Albert Ludwigs University in Freiburg.

During 2000-2004, Albert Ludwigs University coordinated the Apuseni Project – A chance for Motzen Land, whose goal was the research and sustainable development of Ghețari village in Gîrda de Sus commune, Romania. The project operated as a German-Romanian cooperation financed by the German Ministry for Education and Research. Within this project it was established that in the study area there are 491 plant species and among them 242 are medicinal. Among the medicinal species there wasArnica montana, which was unsustainably used (over-harvested, poor quality of the fresh material, low acquisition price, un-fair trade etc.).

This framework has created the premises for initiating the Arnica Project (Conservation of Eastern European medicinal plants: Arnica montana in Romania), led by WWF UK and financed by Darwin Initiative Foundation from England during 2004-2007. Five institutions were involved in this project (WWF-UK, Darwin Initiative, WWF-DCP, UASVM Cluj-Napoca and Gîrda de Sus City Hall) and it was performed in Gîrda de Sus commune, Alba County. The project’s goal was to elaborate a sustainable use system of Arnica montana species for the benefit of biodiversity conservation and local people’s welfare. The results were the basis for a sustainable management plan for the species’ conservation and use. One of the project’s ideas had been to organize a structure which will develop the created system and, consequently, Ecoherba society was founded.

Ecoherba was conceived in order to be active in the central region of Apuseni Mountains. The further research has revealed that the developed system operates in a too narrow area and outside of it, Arnica montana is over-harvested. Therefore, Ecoherba supported the foundation of Bioflora Apuseni enterprise in order to implement the sustainable system in the northern region of the mountains.

So, Ecoherba-Bioflora Apuseni System is the result of a long process of interdisciplinary and intercultural research.