Towards a climate neutral EU:
efficient allocation of EU funds

Improving the conservation state of biodiversity in Piatra Craiului National Park through awareness raising, education, infrastructure and monitoring (SMIS-CSNR 36865)

Organisation: Focus Eco Center Website: Added: April 27, 2022
Project start date: January 01, 2016
Project end date: January 01, 2020


The objective of this project was to improve the conservation status of one of Romania's most beautiful and well-known parks. The main goal was to create conditions to limit the enviornmental impact of locals and tourists visiting the park. The first group to be targeted was park personnel: 12 employees received professional training in park management and caretaking. Locals and park visitors were the next focus group. Of an estimated 40,000 people living in the area, roughly 5,000 are school children. With education as a high priority, the project sought to teach children about the local flora and fauna and to raise general awareness of the importance of conserving their natural heritage.

The park welcomes an approximately 110,000 visitors per year. The project addressed park visitors through leaflets and signboards, while thematic routes were displayed along the park's 44 marked hiking routes. The most important infrastructural development, however, was the building and furnishing of a new Visitor Centre just 1 km distant from the town of Zărneşti. Special care was taken to design the building in a way that reflects the mountain topography and the sharp-angled high rooftops of the local rural houses. The interior offers an interactive tour covering a wide range of subjects related to the park territory and its natural and cultural heritage. Thanks to ERDF funding and everyone involved in its design and construction, the Visitor Centre is one of the finest in all of Romania.

One of the best features of the Piatra Craiului National Park is its Visitor Centre, which itself possesses many praiseworthy features: 1) its unique design artfully blends into the natural and cultural landscape; 2) it has several interactive, creative and fun exhibitions arranged along an indoor trail to teach visitors about the local natural and cultural heritage (e.g., an artificial limestone cave and a traditional sheepfold used to make cheese (a staple of the local traditional economy) 3) it makes great use of the latest technology, such as LED screens with Kinect sensors and 3D-modelling, to deliver a more enhanced interactive experience; and 4) care has been taken to accomodate visitors with disabilities (wheelchair ramps at angles of not greater tha 6°, and Braille labelling throughout for the visually impaired). The Piatra Craiului National Park Visitor Centre one of the best of the country, and it serves as an excellent example of how to do things the right way.

Financial data

Total funding: EUR 1,745,000 (100%)

ERDF: EUR 1,150,000 EUR (65.92%)

National government: EUR 287,000 (16.48%)

Other sources: EUR 307,000 (17.6%).


The conservation of any natural landmark is important, but the protection of a country's most well-known and best-loved areas is crucial. High-profile 'flagship' conservation efforts not only protect biodiversity, but are bound to have a greater public impact. At the same time, a bad solution will be communicated on a grand scale, so it is important to do things right. Efforts to raise sustainable-development awareness can set a positive example not only for local residents and visitors, but for national park and conservation workers and adminstration personnel elsewhere. A well-managed emblematic national park can set the mould for others to follow.

The use of the latest technology is recommended in the demonstration centres from the National Parks as well. This is very well realised in the case of the Piatra Craiului National Park. The visitors in general and the young generation in particular are used to digital devices and the educational and informational process is facilitated by these devices. The national parks have an important role in the awareness raising concerning the protection of the natural heritage and as well in the awareness raising concerning the sustainable development. The role and the function of the ecosystem services are easier to understand on site as in the classroom, and in this respect the national parks have a special responsibility.
In Romania the Piatra Craiului National Park is the first one which pays attention to the awareness raising by the latest technologies and it is recommended that in the development of the management of the other national parks in Romania to use the experience of this project which combines very well the soft tourism with the awareness raising and education.

Information sources

Press release of Piatra Craiului National Park

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.