The Children’s Forest Association is organising the 9th edition of the biggest environmental sports event, the Forest cross-country race. All donations as well as the entry fees will be used to fund foresting activities. In the last 100 years, Romania has lost more than half of its forested areas, particularly in the south of the country. Since 2009, people interested in the protection of nature and the restoration of damaged land have been taking part in sports activities to support forestation projects. Let’s find out more about this new edition of the race from the president of the Children’s Forest Association, Teodora Palarie:
“The Forest race will be held at two locations this year, in Bucharest and Ploiesti, in Tineretului Park. This spring we began the forestation of a plot of 5.8 hectares near Ploiesti and we want to have as many people as possible from Prahova County involved in our forestation programme. After last year’s race, some of the people who accompanied the runners told us they also wanted to be involved in the project. This gave us the idea to organise a competition for sitting on the grass. It’s a 30-minute test in which people can sit on the grass, talk, laugh, but are not allowed to get up or use any electronic devices. We also have a 1-hour competition for people who wish to connect with nature allowing them to meditate and relax. The additional requirement is that they are not allowed to talk for this entire hour. We were inspired by a competition held in Korea, where there are many more requirements, prizes are given, and winners are also supposed to maintain a constant heart rate. This won’t be the case in our competition, at least not this year. We’re only trying to test people’s appetite for involvement and their wish to support forestation by sitting on the grass. If we decide to do it in the future, though, it would be the first such competition in Europe.”
The Children’s Forest cross-country race is held over two days this year. Both individual runners and teams may take part. Teodora Palarie tells us more about the different races for beginners and advanced runners:
“At both locations, namely in Ploiesti on the 30th of September and in Bucharest on the 7th of October, we have a 500 m race for children between 4 and 7 and a 1-km long race for children between 8 and 13. There’s also a 1 km long walk for families, with prizes being given for the family with the highest number of members, youngest member and oldest member taking part. We also have the 30-minute long competition for sitting on the grass and a 1-hour long competition, as well as educational workshops for children and parents where they can learn more about the environment. One such workshop, held in German, will be about forests, but there are also many other activities based on the collaboration between children and parents or adults so that everyone learns more about nature. For those who love physical exercise and running, three different races are held the next day both in Ploiesti on the 1st of October and in Bucharest on the 8th of October: 5, 10 and 15 km timed races. This is intended as a test for the upcoming event on the following weekend in the capital city, the Bucharest International Marathon. Those who want to take part in the event and want to test themselves in a time-trial race ahead of a semi-marathon, are expected at the Forest cross-country Race if they want to put their stamina to the test”.
The new forests, set up by the Children’s Forest Association, are made of species of black pine, ash, Norway maple, silver berry, dogwood and Siberian elm, and will protect the neighboring farming plots of land. The forests will also reduce soil degradation through the input of organic matter. Starting 2009, in the wake of the forestation campaigns, late last year 285,500 saplings were planted. They will grow into mature trees in the next years, on surface areas in several plots of land across the country, where the plantation of saplings is needed, for a surface area of 350,000 hectares. Speaking about that, here is Teodora Palarie once again.
“The autumn plantation campaign unfolds as usual in November. It will be the 20th campaign, as each year we have spring and summer plantation campaigns, and we have activities aimed at expanding existing forests and creating new ones.. Our objective is to safeguard the forests we already have, that is the 58 hectares, of which 40 will be expanded, and we will also create 10 more hectares of new forest. So we shall go to Ialomita County, the commune of Barbulesti, but talks are still ongoing, yet we hope to get round to planting saplings in Giurgiu County as well. The Children’s Forest project has set out to re-forest the Vlasia Woods, so we shall take action in the southern-Wallachian region, a region that, unfortunately, is very scarcely forested. The forestation average accounts for 4-5 percent of the land surface area, given that the recommended forestation average in the plains stands at 20 per cent”.
Last year, more than 2,000 people took part in the in the Forest cross country race. The organizers of the event hope that this year as well, participation is going to be high, so that Romanian forests may yet again take root. (Translated by E. Nasta & C. Mateescu)