Wild nature claims place in Romanian capital

Mon Aug 1, 2016 9:17am EDT
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By Luiza Ilie

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - On an early morning walk through the Romanian capital’s newest park, photographer Helmut Ignat points out cormorants, harriers, terns and several other birds flying high over the marshes.

"We’re in luck, all the birds are showing themselves," said Ignat, who discovered Vacaresti park in 2011 on assignment from National Geographic.

Word was beginning to spread that a wild wetland had sprung up between apartment buildings not far from downtown Bucharest.

Ignat is one of four founders of the Vacaresti Nature Park Association, which has spent the last four years lobbying authorities to grant the wetlands protected status.

"We must have met local and central public authorities more than 250 times," said its director Dan Barbulescu.

Advocacy paid off. The government gave Vacaresti protected status in May, one of Europe’s largest urban wetlands.

Vacaresti is the result of a communist-era plan to build a lake in southern Bucharest, one of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s many projects to overhaul the city.

Abandoned in 1989, it was a massive pit surrounded by a concrete embankment that hid it from view.   Continued...

A swan, backdropped by reeds, swims on one of the lakes inside Vacaresti wetlands, in Bucharest, Romania, July 23, 2016. Picture taken July 23, 2016. Inquam Photos/Octav Ganea/via REUTERS