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Investing in Moldova’s Forest Biodiversity to Build a More Sustainable Future


Forests and fields along the Dnestr River in Moldova. Photo: Egor Tetiushev/ Shutterstock

Biodiversity sustains human life by helping keep our air and water clean and providing us with nutritious food. Every plant and animal, regardless of its size, plays a crucial part in our ecosystems, the health of which depends on how we, humans, manage their biodiversity.

Forests are vital to Moldova’s economy and environmental wellbeing, as well as its path to EU membership. They provide shelter to 80% of the country’s biological diversity, create jobs, protect against storms and floods, and are part of the nation’s identity.

"In Moldova, forests, if managed properly, are the source of abundance for local communities. Restored forests can become ecologically stable landscapes allowing farmers to have no fear in the face of climate change and severe weather events,” highlights Ana Benoliel Coutinho, National Farm to Fork and Agroecology Expert with Gradina Moldovei. Yet, Moldova’s forests have been facing unprecedented degradation due to excessive harvesting, unsustainable forest management practices, and displacement of native species by invasive ones. Such loss endangers communities to the impacts of climate change and water scarcity since forests play a critical role in climate mitigation—acting as carbon sinks and water-resource multipliers. Investing in forests now is essential for protecting lives and livelihoods in Moldova.

Partners in Expanding Moldova’s Forests

The World Bank has been a long-term partner of Moldova to advance more sustainable landscape management. In 2021, the World Bank joined the EU-funded EU4Environment Programme to help Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries, including Moldova, green their economies.

As part of this effort, the World Bank has been supporting the Government of Moldova to adopt a policy framework for the National Forest Extension and Rehabilitation Program (NFERP) for 2023-2032. This initiative has garnered significant buy-in from forestry practitioners, experts, and civil society by balancing needs for forest products and services while increasing long-term resilience to climate change through conservation efforts and sustainable development of forest resources.

Under the NFERP, over the next 10 years, Moldova’s forest cover is expected to expand from 13.8% to at least 17% of the country’s territory. This will be achieved by planting new forests on 110,000 hectares and rehabilitating existing forests on 35,000 hectares of state-, communal- and privately-owned land. And in addition to restoring landscapes, improving soil fertility and protecting watersheds, these forest restoration activities will provide nearly 14,000 jobs to rural communities.

Valeriu Angheluta, a resident from Flocoasa village, planting oak seedlings in the commune of Ciobalaccia. Photo: Aurel Lozan/ World Bank

These efforts are also benefitting from new data and analysis. A 2023 study, Identification of High Conservation Value Forests in the Republic of Moldova completed under the EU4Environment Programme, provides the first comprehensive analysis of the country’s forestry sector according to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) principles. This analysis reveals that nearly half of the country's total forest cover (175,500 hectares) are high conservation value forests (HCVFs), meaning they play a critical role in biodiversity conservation and provide long-term environmental benefits. Many of Moldova’s HCVFs are already covered by its system of protected areas and the Emerald Network currently comprising 61 sites across the country.

Codifying Forest Stewardship

Moldova has also made great strides in enhancing forest management. The recently amended Forest Code, developed based on the World Bank’s recommendations, represents a big step forward. It ensures forest sustainability while creating new legal avenues for landowners to manage existing forests and establish new woodlands.

A cluster of mushrooms growing on a tree trunk in the Plaiul Fagului nature reserve in Moldova. Photo: Aurel Lozan/ World Bank

The new code places greater emphasis on ecosystem integrity and increasing forest cover. It classifies forests as having either a special protection function or dual protective and production purposes—when before all forests were classified as only protective. This new approach disincentivizes forest lease and concession practices and allocates more resources for forest restoration while granting additional rights to non-state landowners and placing a greater emphasis on mitigating the impacts of climate change.

"Here in southern Moldova, we have less forests, but they are really important. In the past 10 years, our commune has been working on reforestation, and it has worked well. Young trees are coming now out of ground,” reflects Valeriu Angheluta, a local agro-forester and resident of Flocoasa village in Cantemir District. “More forests mean better agricultural production in our fields, more water springs, and more biodiversity around we can have for our needs."

Together, Moldova, the EU and the World Bank are finding ways to better protect the country’s biodiversity and investing in forests—helping build a more resilient, sustainable future for all.


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