With the arrival of the heat, we stop in an oasis of peace and greenery in the heart of the Capital. Diana Marinescu, participant in the project Eco journalism for a clean environment, invites us to escape from the daily hustle and bustle and enjoy nature in Văcărești Natural Park.
Delta between blocks
From the moment you walk in the Văcărești Natural Park, also known as the delta between the blocks, the first thing that amazes you is the silence. Suddenly, you feel that you have entered a completely different world, broken as if by the agitation and urban pollution so characteristic of Bucharest. Although in the middle of the Capital, you return to nature, in a space cared for by a team of dedicated people, who understood the importance of preserving any patch of nature in the middle of concrete.
The story of the Văcărești Natural Park begins from the communist period, when, on the current area of the Văcărești delta, there was a residential neighborhood. The communist regime decides to arrange Lake Văcărești so that the inhabitants of the area are expropriated. Excavations are being made, and the created basin is filled with water from the Dâmbovița River. It is noted that water can not be retained in the long run, and infiltrations flood the neighboring areas, so after 1990 the project is abandoned. After years in a row in which nature took its course in that area, in 2012, a team of specialists begins efforts to establish a natural park. Following an assiduous documentary work, little by little, the delta between the blocks receives the necessary approvals, and in May 2016, by Government Decision, the Văcărești Natural Park is born, the first urban natural park in Romania, category I IUCN.
Vlad Cioflec, a biologist in the Park, tells us that at the inauguration and a period of time later, at the base of the tours were the stories of the team members and a single bird feeder. But little by little, the stories about birds, nature, beauty and the importance of the area's ecosystem attracted the interest of the inhabitants, the authorities and the private environment, together developing what is today the delta between the blocks.
The Văcărești Delta remains the last area in a larger area with vegetation specific to wetlands, this fact being visible in terms of flora and fauna. The Park's ecosystem includes 331 species of plants, 154 species of birds (given that the Danube Delta has 300 species of birds on almost half a million hectares), some of these species being very rare, inscribed on the European protection lists. , 13 species of mammals, 5 species of reptiles, 6 species of amphibians, 7 fish and 111 insects, of which 1 new species for the Romanian fauna, but new species are constantly being discovered. Such a discovery of new species took place in the spring of this year, when the park team noticed a new type of lizard: the wall lizard.
It is interesting to mention the evolution of the park's fauna, which, although strongly affected by anthropogenic activities, has an impressive capacity to recover. The species from the current delta have recaptured the area in the last 20 years, after the completion of the works at the hydrotechnical site and during the period when the area was abandoned.
The importance of biodiversity in the park attracted the attention of Romanian and foreign officials, from Prince Charles of Great Britain to Ambassador Hans Klemm of the United States and Ambassador Paul Brummel of the Kingdom of Great Britain. With around 10.000 visitors a year, mainly children, the park and its specialists take their role as educators of the younger generations seriously in terms of the importance of protecting the environment. Delta Văcărești has become a real "classroom in nature", children being invited to discover the magical world of nature in a practical way, making direct contact with the various tools used by the park team to study flora and fauna, with animals and plants and receiving answers to any questions. From the short presentations given by the Park team, the little ones go to experience nature, to meet the different species of animals and reptiles present in the Park, to get to know the species of plants that surround them.
This open-air school benefits from an observatory, which offers an overview of the 183 ha that represent Văcărești Park, a non-formal education space, where the little ones make their first contact with the area's ecosystem, and several thematic paths meant to it helps children and adults alike to observe the variety of flora and fauna. In this way, those who venture into the park can walk on the path of biodiversity, for those interested in birds there is a route of the city's birds, soon a second route will be put into use. Cycling enthusiasts were not forgotten either, benefiting from two dedicated routes.
Future plans for Văcărești? As Vlad Cioflec explains to us, on In the future, the main activities will be research, ecological education classes and the development of tourism within the limits of ecosystem sustainability.
Văcărești Natural Park is a living proof of the coexistence of nature with the urban, a nature integrated in the city landscape that serves as a reminder that nature is the foundation of our society and reconciliation with nature is the solution for sustainable development. As Vlad Cioflec considers "We have to overcome this mentality that the city is somehow human, it is totally isolated, there is no fauna, there is no flora and only from the ring road are animals allowed to be."
An oasis of peace in the concrete middle of Bucharest, one of the most polluted cities in the country, and a place open to the little ones to learn and understand the benefits of nature for society. It is vital to protect nature, and to do so I invite you to visit, to discover this natural park in the heart of the city. As Vlad Cioflec tells us, “You can't protect nature if you don't really love it. And you can't love something without giving it a chance to get to know it. ”