The Centre for Monitoring of Habitats and Species is a research station established in 2002 in Eșelnița, Mehedinți County, under the administration of the Centre for Environmental Research and Impact Studies (the Faculty of Geography, the Regional Geography and Environment Department).
Developed within the LIFE Nature LIFE00NAT/RO/7171, Iron Gates Natural Park – habitat conservation and management project, coordinated by university professor Maria Pătroescu, it initially functioned as a Centre for the growth of Hermann’s tortoises, its functionality being extended after 2005 to monitoring activities for species and natural habitats.
The research framework of the Centre comprises, aside from the one-floor space (hosting a conference room and lodging space), several modern pieces of equipment meant for the detailed analysis of species and habitats, as well as for monitoring the components of the environment on the field or in the laboratory. To these we must also consider the areas destined to the support activities for ecological education.
The objectives of the Centre for Monitoring of Habitats and Species are oriented towards:
– Developing of scientific research activity for the monitoring of species and habitats, the analysis of the quality of the environmental factors or the evaluation of the impact of the sources of decay on the environment;
– Support activities for the administration process of the protected zones in this area of Romania;
– Supporting of ecological education activities, both for various targeted groups in local communities and for the tourists in the Iron Gates National Park;
– Carrying out professional and optional practice activities in the field of environmental science for the Faculty of Geography students;
– Carrying out projects in the field of protection and environmental conservation in the proximate areas.
The activities of the Centre for Environmental Research and Impact Studies have facilitated the carrying out of scientific research projects benefiting from national and international sponsorship, such as:
- 2011-2015: LIFE10NAT/RO/00740 Improving the conservation status for priority species and habitats in Iron Gates Wetlands, Comisia Europeana, EU – DG Environment. LIFE III
- 2008-2009: Securing the future of Hermann tortoise (Testudo hermanni subsp. boettgeri) in SW Romania, Rufford Small Grant, Rufford Small Grants for Nature Conservation, Great Britain
- 2006-2007: The Hermann tortoises – preserving the flagship specie for south-west Romania, Rufford Small Grant 47.02.06, Rufford Small Grants for Nature Conservation, Great Britain
- 2015-2017: Incorporating sources of uncertainty in large carnivore management and conservation in Romania, PN-II-RU-TE-2014-4-0058, UEFISCDI
- 2015-2017 – Integrating social network theory into systematic conservation planning, PN-II-RU-TE-2014-4-1039, UEFISCDI
- 2017-2018 – Argos based applications for real time wildlife monitoring in Romania (BioMoveFix), PN-III-P2-2.1-PED-2016-0568, UEFISCDI
All of these projects have ensured the existence of the necessary resources for the proper functioning of the research station (ongoing costs, personnel, reparations, research equipment etc.), which benefited from a minimal support from the University of Bucharest.