Founded in 2004, Fundația ADEPT (Agricultural Development and Environmental Protection in Transylvania) is a biodiversity conservation and rural development organisation based in Saschiz, central Romania. It operates across Transylvania’s Târnava Mare area, a European biodiversity hotspot. Shaped over many hundreds of years by low intensity, High Nature Value farming practices, this semi-natural landscape supports an abundance of flora and fauna.
ADEPT works collaboratively with farming communities to find pragmatic ways to support both biodiversity conservation and rural economic activity. With the Romanian Ministry of Agriculture, they have developed, piloted and helped farmers to access large-scale schemes which incentivise environmentally-friendly farming. ADEPT advised the Ministry in the design of Romania’s first national scheme focused on encouraging the sustainable management of grasslands, which launched in 2008. From small beginnings, this quickly grew into Romania’s largest single agri-environment scheme. By 2019, some 230,000 farmers were paid £16 million per year in incentives under this scheme to conserve over 12,000 square kilometers of land across the country. ADEPT have also worked with farming families to establish additional income streams, diversifying job skills and creating a thriving tourism industry that includes locally led festivals, farmer’s markets, an annual bike race and more. They also offer “wildlife tours” at the new Angofa Biodiversity Center.
Through these and other activities, ADEPT has grown from a local project into an internationally respected and influential organisation, receiving national and international awards for their work. Through their efforts to secure designation of Târnava Mare as a Natura 2000 site, they achieved national recognition for the value in protecting High Nature Value agricultural landscapes. Their work serves as a model for the conservation and sustainable development of these landscapes nationally and globally.
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