Conserve and Restore Habitats for Otters, Romania

The purpose of Asociatia pentru Conservarea Diversitatii Biologice (ACDB) is to support and promote biodiversity conservation activities, environmental education and environmental protection.The aim of this project is to conserve and restore aquatic habitats for otters in a protected area in the Vrancea mountains in the Carpathians of SE Romania by engaging local communities and outdoor enthusiasts.

ACDB will do this together with volunteers along 30km of the River Putna by:
– Monitoring the otter population.
– Building 6 otter holts to encourage otters into new areas.
– Identifying and protecting existing otter holts.
– Planting 1,000 native trees on the river banks, and removing invasive species and waste.
– Raising awareness of the otters and their conservation by using the collected waste for art installations and raft building, providing workshops and training camps for children, installing 6 interactive information panels about the ecosystem conservation and marking up two 35km bike trails complete with information boards about the protected area and otters.

The Update

 Update April 2018:
This project is well underway and progressing well.
– 87.7km have been surveyed and monitored for Eurasian otters. Otter presence has been found along all sectors of the Putna River and on some of it’s tributaries.
– An A5 format guide was produced for helping volunteers to recognise the field signs of otter presence. More than 40 volunteers aged from 6–58 learned about nature conservation, Eurasian otter ecology and environmental issues in their area, as well as participating in monitoring.
– An artificial otter holt was constructed and 5 further sites identified for future artificial holts.
– Volunteers helped remove approximately 2km2 of invasive vegetation around the Putna River valley.
– Three waste campaigns have been undertaken involving 117 volunteers. Plastic bottles were separated and will be used in the creation of rafts for a recycled raft race to be held in June 2018 to engage children in conservation and recycling.
– Work is underway to create trash monsters to further raise awareness in the community.
– 350 children have participated in education workshops about nature conservation and the Eurasian otter.
– A trifold awareness brochure has been produced to further raise awareness of the Eurasian otter and the Putna River.
– A junior ranger camp was successfully carried out in August 2017 involving 60 children.
– An 18km bike route has been marked out and 1000 touristic maps and guides have been produced illustrating the bike route and tourist attractions.
Next steps:
– Develop a management plan for the Putna River natural protected area;
– Install a further 5 artificial otter holts;
– Remove more invasive vegetation;
– Hold a recycled plastic bottle raft race;
– A further 19km of bike route will be marked out.

Image credit: Bouros George