URSUSLIFE - Best practices and demonstrative actions for conservation of Ursus arctos species in Eastern Carpathians, Romania

LIFE08 NAT/RO/000500

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Silviu CHIRIAC
Fax: +40 237 20 67 88
Email: vrancealife@yahoo.co.uk

Project description:


Romania’s brown bear (Ursus arctos arctos) population consists of around 6 000-6 500 individuals, representing approx. 40% of the European total. The mountainous counties of Vrancea, Covasna and Harghita were home to some 2 300 specimens by the end of 2008.


The project aimed to maintain the conservation status of brown bear in several Natura 2000 sites by applying best practices and demonstrative activities, as well as promoting the species’ conservation at national and European level. Preventing the decline of brown bear population sizes in the area was a key objective, which would be achieved by encouraging successful cohabitation between bears and humans.

Work was planned to: gather sufficient information about the bears’ hibernation and feeding habits; seek active protection of hibernation dens from highly disturbing human activities, like logging; ban human activities at critical periods; extend the Animal Rescue Mobile Unit (ARMU) team's activity; increase the capacity of the Bear Cub Rehabilitation Center; introduce a new ‘bear friendly’ eco-label; and establish several demonstration initiatives on farms to show how equipment and substances could be used with effect to reduce bear damage risks.


The URSUSLIFE project achieved its objectives focused on:

  • Maintaining the current conservation status of the Carpathian brown bear population by applying best practices and demonstrative actions in the project's area and promoting these methods at national level;
  • Preventing brown bear's population decline caused by poaching, habituation and juvenile mortality;
  • Preventing and reducing conflicts between bears and humans; and
  • Maintaining the current conservation status in 15 Natura 2000 sites, overlapping the project area.
  • These outcomes were achieved by the following project results:

  • Elaborating and disseminating a Guide on the assessment methods for brown bear population that was approved by the national authority. It explains optimal quantitative and qualitative methods for counting brown bear populations and individuals. This handbook will be used by wildlife managers and field agents;
  • Reducing the number of cases when killing a bear was considered the only solution, by relocating problem bears and promoting alternative measures and extending at national level the project’s experiences;
  • Approval by the environmental national authority of a standard methodology for risk evaluation of problem bears and habituated bears. The Risk Assessment Team (RAT) participated in 52 cases (14 in Vrancea County, 15 in Covasna County, and 23 in Harghita County) where it was necessary to conduct a contextual assessment, due to damage caused by bears. Experience gained from these 52 cases informed the development of a "Methodology for the assessment of risks raised by the presence of bears in inhabited areas". Such a project result included recommendations on working procedures and criteria by which risk assessment can be made;
  • Poached and snare trapped bears were saved throughout the range of the entire project;
  • All abandoned and orphaned bear cubs identified by the project were rehabilitated following an increase in the Rehabilitation Center’s intervention and receiving capacity. Cubs of problem female bears were also rehabilitated during by the project. The ARMU expanded its activity in Covasna and Harghita counties. It participated in the capture of bears (in situations where relocation was considered a solution), releasing them from snares, or taking other species of wild animals kept in captivity and releasing them after a period of rehabilitation. From 2010 to 2013 the ARMU team intervened in 17 cases where bears had been captured in illegally placed snares. The RAT and ARMU team worked together in six actions that ended with the relocation of nine bears. During the same period, the ARMU team and the Association for Nature Values Conservation (from Balan locality) helped to rehabilitate 37 orphaned or abandoned bear cubs that have been, or are in the process of being, released into their natural habitat;
  • A total of 76 dens and 64 den areas were mapped and recorded in a database. All categories of wintering areas and bear dens were also structured in a GIS database. Such data can now be correlated with other GIS models;
  • Some 30 electrical fence systems were installed each year around shepherd camps, crops and beehives in order to reduce bear damage on farms throughout the project area.These helped to promote best practices among farmers in order to reduce bear damages;
  • Habitat fragmentation and degradation was reduced by achieving several proposals that ensured the connectivity of Natura 2000 sites designated for conservation of the bear species. Legacies from this work will be sustained by a Practical guide for preventing brown bear’s habitat degradation and fragmentation that was developed by the project and approved by the Ministry of Environment;
  • Negative attitudes toward bears and Natura 2000 sites were also decreased among local people by promoting local products.

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Conservation Plan (see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Species - Mammals


endangered species‚  conflict of interests‚  nature conservation‚  environmental impact of transport

Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directiv ...
  • COM(2011) 244 final “Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 ...

Target species

 Ursus arctos     

Natura 2000 sites

SCI ROSCI0018 Căldările Zăbalei
SCI ROSCI0023 Cascada Mişina
SCI ROSCI0036 Cheile Vârghişului
SCI ROSCI0037 Ciomad - Balvanyos
SCI ROSCI0090 Harghita Mădăraş
SCI ROSCI0091 Herculian
SCI ROSCI0097 Lacul Negru
SCI ROSCI0127 Muntioru Ursoaia
SCI ROSCI0130 Oituz - Ojdula
SCI ROSCI0182 Pădurea Verdele
SCI ROSCI0204 Poiana Muntioru
SCI ROSCI0208 Putna - Vrancea
SCI ROSCI0228 Şindriliţa
SCI ROSCI0248 Tinovul Mohoş - Lacul Sf. Ana
SPA ROSPA0088 Munţii Vrancei



Coordinator Vrancea Environmental Protection Agency
Type of organisation Local authority
Description The Environmental Protection Agency-Vrancea (EPA-VN) is a local government body, part of the National Agency for Environmental Protection. It is responsible for environmental law enforcement at local level. The EPA-VN also manages the environmental permit system and nature conservation planning, including species and habitat protection.
Partners Association for Biological Diversity Conservation, Romania Association for Nature Values Conservation, Romania Environmental Protection Agency Covasna, Romania Environmental Protection Agency Harghita, Romania


Project reference LIFE08 NAT/RO/000500
Duration 15-JAN-2010 to 20-DEC -2013
Total budget 515,066.00 €
EU contribution 386,300.00 €
Project location Associated Romania(Romania)


Read more:

Brochure "Produse care respecta ursii si habitatele acestora : Bear friendly product" (26.6 MB)
Brochure "Produse care respecta urșii si habitatele acestora - Bear friendly product"
Leaflet "Siturile Natura 2000 destinate conservarii ursulu ...
Leaflet "Project's bookmarks" (16.4 MB)
Leaflet "Cover of DVD : Siturile Natura 2000 destinate con ...
Leaflet "Unitatea mobila de interventie pentru salvarea an ...
Leaflet "Situri Natura 2000 in judetele Harghita si Covasn ...
Leaflet "Cele mai bune practici si actiuni demonstrative p ...
Poster "A GIS-model to design touristic infrastructure in ...
Poster "Risk Assessment Team – a tool for human-bear conf ...
Poster "Land use and behavioral patterns of brown bears i ...
Poster "Analyses of the Romanian south eastern carpathian ...
Poster "Analyzing suitability factors in selecting dens b ...
Project web site Project's website
Publication: After-LIFE Conservation Plan After-LIFE Conservation Plan (Romanian version)
Publication: Article-Paper "Trouble making brown bear Ursus Arctos linnaeus, ...
Publication: Article-Paper "Land use and Behavioral Patterns of Brown Bears i ...
Publication: Atlas-Cartography "Siturile Natura 2000 destinate conservarii ursulu ...
Publication: Book "Ursul Brun de la conflict la conservare" (11.9 MB ...
Publication: Guidelines-Manual "Mic Ghid de identificare si interpretare a urmelo ...
Publication: Guidelines-Manual "Ghid Practic : Pentru prevenirea degradarii si fr ...
Publication: Guidelines-Manual "Ghid pentru estimarea populatiei de urs brun" (2. ...
Publication: Guidelines-Manual "Evaluarea riscurilor ridicate de prezenta ursilor ...
Publication: Layman report Raport Layman
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Technical report Project's Final technical report


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version