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Romania moves to combat loss of southern arable land – Environment Minister

| 2024-04-07 2 min read

Romania moves to combat loss of southern arable land – Environment Minister

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Romanian Minister of Environment, Waters and Forests Mircea Fechet warned of the need for action as rising temperatures continue to increase the desertification of the country, speaking at the Romanian Business and Investment Roundtable in Bucharest on 5 April

“According to our current science, this can only be combated through rapid afforestation, which is why I am happy to note that a large part of the budget for afforestation funds from the National Plan for Recovery and Resilience (PNRR), is going where it is most needed: to the south of the country. 

“Romania is losing 1,000 hectares of arable land annually due to desertification in the country’s south” Fechet said, adding that rapid afforestation is the only solution to combat this phenomenon. “If no action is taken, in a few years we will have a climate like Greece.”

Lake dries up due to record heat 

“I personally visited south Romania, to Dolj county, and Mehedinti county and saw with my own eyes how the desert is simply swallowing up the arable land,” the minister recalled.

According to Fechet, “It is very difficult to imagine how a community dependent on farming is surviving, given that we are losing 1,000 hectares of arable land every year in the so-called ‘Oltenia Sahara’.”

The Oltenia province în south-west Romania/ Source: Wikipedia

Last year the Oltenia Sahara spread north, to within 20km of Craiova, south Romania. The deforestation originally responsible for Romania’s creeping desert occurred in the 1960s, under the leadership of the country’s communist totalitarian leader Nicolae Ceausescu, who drained 26% of the country’s water farmland, including all five of the Oltenia region’s natural bodies of water.

After 1989 the land was returned to landowners, who then cut down 30,000 hectares of forest. The 47km-long Potelu Lake, where the Ceausescu regime built dams and a pumping station to dry out the lake, is now completely dry. Dabuleni, the so-called “capital of the Oltenian Sahara” now hosts Europe’s only sand museum.

“Environmentalists also tell us that, if we do not act quickly, in Romania, in 20 years or maybe a little longer, we will have an arid climate, very similar to that of Greece,” Fechet warned.