Towards a climate neutral EU:
efficient allocation of EU funds

Management and Utilisation of Urban Forests as Natural Heritage in Cluj-Napoca (part of the Danube Cities – URBforDAN project)

Organisation: Focus Eco Center Website: Added: April 13, 2022
Project start date: November 01, 2021
Project end date: November 20, 2030


The URBforDAN project looks to address actual needs and challenges linked to the sustainable management of natural heritage, especially urban and peri-urban forests within areas of the Danube Region. The project involves seven partner cities: Ljubljana, Budapest, Cluj-Napoca, Vienna, Zagreb, Belgrade, and Ivano-Frankivsk. An 'urban or peri-urban forest' (UPF) is a network or system comprising  any combination of dense woodland, groups of trees or individual trees located in urban or peri-urban areas. There is a total area of 700 hectare of urban forest in the seven partner cities, which are home to a combined population of 6.5 million people and see nearly 15 million visitors each year. Even if many of the forests are protected as natural heritage, they can still be neglected, overused or improperly managed.

The value of UPF benefits is beyond calculating:

  • UPFs ensure a habitat for plants, animals and other organisms, and increase local biodiversity.
  • UPFs improve public health and well-being by providing space for socialising, relaxation and recreation, thus helping to reduce obesity, depression and stress.
  • UPFs help mitigate climate change by reducing a city's carbon footprint and energy consumption, while also removing air pollutants and reducing noise levels.
  • UPFs are natural classrooms with an abundance of wood, mushrooms, fruits, nuts, flowers, birds and other wildlife to study and appreciate. 

URBforDAN is designed to deliver a change in urban forest management and utilisation by improving cooperation between key actors to resolve conflicts and improve usage and conditions. Another aim is to develop 'green tourism' through new and improved products and services.

A participatory approach was taken to attract and mobilise key actors to participate in this integrated multiuse management plan. In the case of Cluj-Napoca, the project was implemented by Cluj-Napoca Municipality, in cooperation with Cluj Metropolitan Area, on behalf of the peri-urban Făget Forest, which has an area of 41.88 hectares. The focus area, which is entirely forested, lies south of the city. None of the area is officially protected, but a Natura 2000 site (ROSCI0074) is nearby. Mapping of the focused area revealed some contours for providing different services, such as: public services (picnic and walking areas, cultural and touristic sites, reacreational grounds etc.), regulating services (to protect against erosion and wind protection), and provisioning services (e.g. raw materials).

Financial data

Total: EUR 145,682.15

ERDF contribution: EUR 123,829.82 (85%)

National co-financing through the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration EUR 18,938.68 EUR (13%)

Own contribution: EUR 2,913.65 EUR (2%).


Transnational cooperation is necessary for sharing best practices and accumulating knowledge to ensure the development and efficienty delivery of multi-use managerial plans. It also brings key stakeholders closer together.

An international network of UPF contributors can better face the challenges when working in unison, and can also be more visible. The City of Ljubljana, the European Green Capital 2016, created this project with the intent of sharing its knowledge and success with other cities. Using a participatory approach, all the actors from the Municipality of Cluj were invited to contribute: business owners and decision makers, specialists from the Babeş-Bolyai University and the National Forestry Administration, members of the local mountain rescue team, and local citizens. Everyone stood to benefit from the new arrangements. Locals could submit ideas and designs, and the best ones were taken into consideration. The educational role that these urban forest could play was a big factor in the decision-making process.

In Cluj-Napoca, the municipality organised a series of educational-recreational activities in specially designated areas of the Făget Forest. The events were centered on Children’s Day (1st of June) and World Environment Day (5th of June), and a total of 350 pupils from grades 3 and 4 participated. The importance of involving children in educational forestry programmes cannot be highlighted enough!

In order to promote the URBforDAN project and its objectives, the team developed a free smartphone application with information, maps, quizzes and other fun facts related to the seven selected forests. Most everyone these days is an everyday smartphone user, so this is a very good tool to extend the project's reach and popularity.

Information sources

URBforDAN - Management and Utilization of Urban Forests as Natural Heritage in Danube Cities

Other info

European Climate Initiative (EUKI)
This project is part of the European Climate Initiative (EUKI). EUKI is a project financing instrument by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK). The EUKI competition for project ideas is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. It is the overarching goal of the EUKI to foster climate cooperation within the European Union (EU) in order to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.