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Climate change in Romania | DW Documentary

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Sand is overrunning Oltenia, a historical region in southern Romania. It’s getting hotter and drier, with sandstorms now reaching all the way to Bucharest. As they try to prevent the worst, environmentalists are turning to reforestation.

The effects of climate change can be clearly seen and felt in the Romanian region of Oltenia. Where once green meadows and forests lined the banks of the River Danube, swathes of sand are now expanding. The area in question now covers more than 800 square kilometers along the Danube. Wind blows sand into villages, and even as far as the capital, Bucharest, more than 200 kilometers away. It’s the result of a combination of global warming and reckless agricultural policies. In the 1970s and 1980s, dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu had forests cut down and lakes drained as he sought to promote large-scale agricultural production.

Environmentalists, entrepreneurs and local politicians are now trying to stop the ongoing devastation in the south of their country. Bucharest lawmaker and environmental activist Octavian Berceanu travels regularly to the region, in order to discover the main causes of the desertification. Together with forestry engineer Dan Popescu, he wants to convince locals and officials to plant new trees in fields that have become unusable.

Farmers can hardly grow any crops in the sandy soil. Even undemanding cereals like corn no longer find sufficient nutrients there. Desperate farmers are now mainly growing even less demanding melon crops.

What’s already happening in Oltenia is also threatening other parts of Europe, as the continent feels the effects of climate change: one summer of drought after another, with serious consequences for both environment and agriculture.


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