Romania country briefing - The European environment — state and outlook 2015

Briefing Published 18 Feb 2015 Last modified 11 May 2020
6 min read
Photo: © Costel Slincu

Main themes and sectors addressed in the national State of Environment report

Romania's State of the Environment Report 2012[1] is the country's latest report on the state of the environment. State of the Environment Reports are produced annually, and are based on the EEA's core set of indicators. The reports are compiled by the Romanian National Environmental Protection Agency and approved by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Forestry.

The 2012 report provides an assessment of the state of the environment, and of pressures acting on the environment, using data collected by local environmental protection agencies and other institutions responsible for environmental monitoring. The report addresses the following environmental themes:

  • air quality,
  • water,
  • land use,
  • protection of nature and biodiversity,
  • waste management,
  • climate change,
  • health, and
  • quality of life.

Key findings of the State of Environment report 

Air quality: Between 2005 and 2011, emissions of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and ammonia) and their precursors have fallen. Emissions of other air pollutants also fell in the same period. Sulphur dioxide emissions fell by 48.8% between 2005 and 2011 (See Figure 1). 

Figure 1: Annual emissions of acidifying and eutrophying greenhouse gases and ozone precursors

Figure 1 Evolution of annual emissions of accidifcation and eutrophication greenhouse gases as well as ozone precursors

Source: Agentia Nationala pentru Protectia mediului - Raport National privind starea mediului, 2012

The 2012 report also highlighted the fact that water resources are unevenly distributed in the country. Due to the importance of both the Danube basin and the Black Sea and the need for protection of the environment in these areas, Romania declared its entire territory as a sensitive area. The result of this declaration is that any town with 10 000 or more people has to put in place advanced wastewater infrastructure capable of removing nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous. 

Significant pressure on water resources in Romania comes from treated and untreated wastewater discharges into surface water[2] and from a number of diffuse sources of pollution. Hydromorphological pressures (from dams, riverbank protection, etc.) also put pressure on water resources. In spite of these pressures, Romania does not risk a reduction in the availability of water resources between now and 2050.

The good quality of Romania's bathing waters[3] was recognised in the EEA Bathing Water Report 2012.

Climate change is also affecting Romania. Between 1988 and 2010, average annual temperatures rose by 0.5° C, a value that is very close to the global average of 0.6° C.

The 2012 State of the Environment Report showed that, as in previous years, most of Romania's land cover was comprised of agricultural land (61.39%) followed by forests and other forest lands (28.35%).

Soil quality is coming under pressure from fertilisers, pesticides, and industrial activities (mining, steel, energy, etc.).

Compared to other Member States of the European Union, Romania is not even close to the position of being "saturated" with phytosanitary products (such as pesticides and fertilizers). The average consumption per arable hectare dropped between 1999 and 2012 from 1.18 kg of active substance/ha to 0.70 kg of active substance/ha. The general trend in land cover is towards a reduction in cover by agricultural land in favour of other types of land cover. Since 1990, Romania's agricultural land decreased by 133 500 ha, representing about 1% of total agricultural land.

Forests: Forests cover about 27.4% of the country's surface, or about 6.5 million hectares. In addition to providing timber, forests also provide game and fish, forest fruit, edible mushrooms, wicker products, seeds, saplings, resin, honey, and medicinal and aromatic plants.

Biodiversity: Romania's biodiversity is one of the most remarkable in Europe. Romania has ratified the Convention for Biological Diversity. The Danube delta is of particular importance for biodiversity, hosting over 300 species of birds as well as 45 freshwater fish species in its numerous lakes and marshes. If not properly managed, this biodiversity could be affected by intensive fish farming, hunting, canal and dyke construction, and pollution[4].

Since 1993, the Danube delta has become a Biosphere Reservation. Romania has 978 areas of national interest and 531 Natura 2000 sites. Up to 25% of animal species are still threatened, and even non-threatened species continue to suffer from a lack of appropriate habitats outside of protected areas.

Marine and Coastal Environment - Black Sea: The Romanian coastal area along the Black Sea has a length of 244 km, representing 7.65% of the national border. In 2012, the main anthropogenic pressures identified along the Romanian coast came from:

  • tourism and recreation;
  • the construction of holiday homes in tourist areas;
  • expansion and modernisation of existing tourist ports;
  • harbours and navigation;
  • fisheries;
  • agriculture; and
  • the petrochemical industry.

As a result of these pressures, Romania's coast now faces significant problems including habitat destruction, coastal erosion, water pollution, depletion of natural resources and large-scale exploitation of natural resources.

Waste Management: Romania's National Waste Management Strategy aims to assist in the transition from the current model of development based on production and consumption to a model based on waste prevention and use of industrial recovered materials. This will ensure the preservation of natural resources and help to reconcile economic and environmental goals. In spite of this strategy, Romania is still facing some problems such as municipal waste management. In 2011, about 93% of the municipal waste collected by sanitation companies was disposed of in landfills. Recycling and recovery rates of this type of waste are still very low.

Main policy responses to key environmental challenges and concerns

In the area of air quality Romania plans to continue implementing and monitoring the effectiveness of its air-quality management plans.

In water management, Romania aims to achieve sustainable management of water by closely following the requirements of EU water-related directives. The country's flood management activities involve a mixture of short-, medium- and long-term policies to protect life, assets and the environment.

Romania has an integrated water strategy for the period 2010–2035, which covers various policy areas affecting water resources, such as urban development, environmental protection, agricultural and forest development, transport infrastructure, tourism and construction.

Romania's National Biodiversity Strategy requires environmental impact assessments to be made before any development plan is approved in protected natural areas of community interest. It also establishes indicators to assess the health of species and habitats in protected areas.

In waste management, Romania has adopted the National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS) and the National Waste Management Plan (NWMP). The NWMS sets objectives for waste management. It was revised in line with new European guidelines and was subjected to an environmental assessment. The NWMP contains details about actions to be taken to achieve the goals of the strategy. The NWMP will be revised according to the new requirements of Romania's Law 211/2011 on waste that transposed Directive 2008/98/EC.

Country specific issues

Health and quality of life: According to the 2007-2013 National Development Plan issued by the government, the main goals of environmental policy in Romania are to ensure a clean environment for the health of Romanians, and to break the vicious circle of poverty and environmental degradation.

Biodiversity: Romania is implementing a long-term strategy for biodiversity protection by developing plans and projects meant to protect unique and extended types of natural habitats. Some of these habitats are possibly without equivalent in the European Union. For example, the Carpathian mountain range is a vital habitat for big carnivores. In 2012, the population of these carnivores was estimated at between 5 786 and 6 546 brown bears; between 2 501 and 2 932 wolves; between 1 200 and 1 435 Eurasian wildcats; and between 10 500 and 13 000 non-Eurasian wildcats. This population of carnivores represents a large number of the total population of these species in Europe.


[1] State of the Environment Report 2012

[2] See Annex 1 to Chapter 3 Water 3.5.1 Structure of wastewater discharged in 2012-Table 3.5.1.-1: Summary of wastewater volumes discharged in 2012 on economic activities (Source: “Romanian Waters” National Administration)

[3] European bathing water quality in 2012 – EEA

[4] Danube Delta, UNESCO


Picture: pelicans, Danube Delta


The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.


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