Biodiversity Moldova in numbers
Natural and semi-natural ecosystems covering approximately 15% of Moldova. The main natural ecosystems of Moldova are: forest (9.6 - 10.7%), steppe (1.9%), rocky habitats or petrophyte (0.68%), and aquatic (2.8%). The forest steppe zone is located in the northern and central parts of the country and represents a hilly plain with an alternation of plains and plateaus. The steppe zone is situated in the south and south-eastern part of the republic. Rocky habitats or petrophyte ecosystems are unique relief forms (limestone) of vegetation located in the northern part of the republic (1).
The plant life of Moldova includes 5,513 plant species. Moldova’s fauna includes 14,800 species of animals, including 461 species of vertebrates (1).
Over past decades, human activities have threatened the country’s biodiversity through fragmentation of the natural areas, resulting in reduced ecological functioning of these areas and the ongoing loss of habitats and species (1).
Practices such as intensive irrigation, the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides and the use of heavy agricultural machinery, etc., is leading to degradation, erosion, compaction, and depletion of the soil organic matter of the most valuable natural resource Moldova has – its black soil. Other human activities that affect and disrupt ecosystem services include unauthorized waste disposal, overgrazing, illegal tree felling, illegal hunting and fishing, industrial and agricultural pollution, which have a negative impact on the cultural functioning of ecosystems to a great extent (1).
Climate change is expected to result in southern and eastern Moldova, currently semi-arid regions, becoming arid. This can be expected to have substantial negative impacts on forests and aquatic species (1).
Rising temperatures will force many living organisms to migrate to cooler areas in the northern part of the country, while new organisms will arrive. Such movements might involve many species including plants and trees. However, some flora and fauna species could have low resilience to temperature and precipitation changes because climate systems are moving more rapidly than they can follow (1).
Some oak species have high adaptation capacities and would be able to adapt to dry conditions in the central and northern parts of the country. Some species will seek higher altitudes in the central part, others will move further to the northern part of Moldova. Steppe plants are generally well adjusted to high temperatures although some species could suffer reduced populations due to overgrazing and become extinct. Landscape fragmentation and human activity are likely to increase the vulnerability to changes in climatic conditions of steppe species with limited dispersal capacity (1).
Both floods and droughts will become longer and more severe. This will have a substantial effect on forests and aquatic biodiversity since many habitats, protected areas and the Ramsar wetlands are located in the vicinity of the Dniester and Prut rivers (2). Droughts result in a shorter-duration presence of water on floodplains and intensify the soil salinisation processes. These changes could have a significant impact on meadow species through an extension of the areas of halophyte plants well adapted to salt and drought conditions and a reduction of the area occupied by plants tolerant of floods such as sedges (1). Generally, forest ecosystems are more resistant to droughts; however some species of oak in the southern and central parts of the country could dry out in the case of a massive invasion of insects (3).
Water quality is threatened by degradation due to natural, non-pollution, factors. Thus, an increase in air temperature will lead to an increase of the temperature of the surface waters and diminishing dissolved oxygen (DO) level. DO level lowering, in combination with the increase in water temperature, could affect the ecosystem composition by allowing the invasion of new thermophilic species and dangerous bacteria. This may lead to a change in ecosystems, to degradation of the ecosystem services to the population, and will require additional treatment of water for drinking purposes (1).
Adaptation strategies Moldova
The following adaptation measures have been proposed (1):
- Prepare action programmes on national and local levels for maximum conservation of natural ecosystems, endangered species and their habitats;
- Support and promote, acknowledge and implement interdisciplinary climate change research agendas involving a wide range of research and stakeholder communities;
- Establish new policies based on the integrated landscape approach for biodiversity protection under climate changes. Develop strategies to increase ecosystem resistance and resilience;
- Creation of new biodiversity conservation centres that will monitor and take immediate actions to protect biodiversity in its natural state;
- Further develop and link the local ecological network to the national and international networks as well establish of national parks;
- Possible transfer of rights to own and manage ecosystem services to private individuals. Examples from different countries show that the private sector can make significant contributions to biodiversity conservation;
- Use drought resistant species in the improving of forested ecosystems;
- Develop sustainable restoration plans for steppe ecosystems;
- Develop River Basin Management Action Plans for sustainable use of water resources and protection of meadow ecosystems;
- Limit overgrazing of steppe pastures and river valleys in the southern and eastern parts of Moldova which are more vulnerable to the increasing occurrence of droughts;
- Establish protective measures against invasive species;
- Promote sustainable agricultural practices;
- Limit all activities in protected wetlands and marshes. At the national and local level there are few activities underway to protect these areas which are considered to be in a critical condition;
- Establish a new systemic inventory and monitoring of endangered species and elaborate methodologies for their protection;
- Increase public awareness to protect environment and natural ecosystems. There is an urgent need to inculcate good ecological sense in people to protect the environment for future generations;
- Increase the capacity of the state and local budgets in order to adequately finance the required measures for the conservation and restoration of biological diversity;
- Develop tools to facilitate communication within and between sectors, ministries and institutions, and especially between climate change and biodiversity research and policy communities;
- Introduce payments for environmental services to protect biodiversity and carbon in agricultural landscapes.
The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Moldova.
- UNDP (2009)
- Lazu (2000), in: UNDP (2009)
- Postolache (2000); Sabanova and Izverskaia (2004), in: UNDP (2009)