Vlahita 2022: A breath of air for a musical community

Earlier this month, Tomorrow’s Forest Foundation regenerated 7 ha of forest in Vlăhița/Szentegyháza (Harghita county). At the planting event on May 7, an impressive number of volunteers took part – more than 350 people of all ages.

On the steep slopes of the Harghita-Madaras Mountains, a few kilometers away from the town center, conifer forests stretch as far as the eye can see – only interrupted by empty spaces, here and there, with the remains of past storms.

The forests look like this “with help from winds and people,” explains Molnár Tibor, from the Vlăhița Composesorate, the small owners’ association who attempt to recover their forests.

Like many other small towns in Romania, Vlăhița paid a heavy toll to post-communist transition.

Heavy industry was dismantled, and people found themselves without a sustenance, so they turned to the woods – without consideration for sustainable management of the forests. Illegal logging, increasing number of pests (bark beetles) brought about by the global warming, and, finally, heavy storms (from 1995 to 2017), all left deep scars on the mountain sides.

Finally, the people realized they need to do something to save the forests. As always, they found strength in unity, so they established the Composesorate Association, in order to safeguard, protect and recover their forests.

We started 6-7 years ago the formalities for the Association. This took a couple of years of gathering the owners, and then we started working,” further explains Molnár Tibor. “Most importantly, we started to plant. A big thank you to Tomorrow’s Forest Foundation, their support was huge. The owners never got any help from the authorities, only from NGOs.

Intermezzo: 40 years of Fili

The planting event overlapped with a great cause of celebration in the community – 40 years of the Children’s Philharmonic, or “Fili”, as it is affectionately known. Formed in 1982 by music professor and conductor Haáz Sándor, Fili is an impressive gathering of music lovers – no less than 100 people attend the choir, and the orchestra numbers 40 musicians.

More remarkable is its continued existence – and in order to mark the occasion, concerts were held, with all the generations who performed under professor Haáz. And the planting event on May 7 was included on the official agenda of the celebrations.

The community in Vlăhița embodies in their musical dedication values such as generational solidarity, perseverance and continuity,” remarked Mihail Caradaica, executive director of Tomorrow’s Forest Foundation. “These values are very dear to our Foundation. We are so glad we could contribute to this wonderful community celebration!

Despite the rain and difficult, rugged terrain on the planting site, more than 350 children, adults and seniors, from Romania and far abroad came to help and plant 10.000 seedlings of spruce, larch, and sycamore maple.

People finally understood this can’t go on anymore, so they turned the page, they’re making it better, they’re working for a better future,” says Ülkei Erika, legal officer of the township. “I’m so proud of my community!

Tomorrow’s Forest Foundation planted one million seedlings so far

As part of its reforestation programme, Tomorrow’s Forest planted more than one million seedlings between 2017 and 2022. The programme was created in partnership with the Association of Forest Administrators and the University of Suceava, as a response to the urgent need to reforest areas belonging to small owners and local communities, areas with regeneration difficulties. The financial support of the programme was provided by HS Timber Group.

In Harghita county, Tomorrow’s Forest Foundation planted so far more than 160,000 seedlings, on more than 45 ha. In 2022, the Foundation returned on five more planting sites – Vlăhița (7 ha), Toplița (two sites, 5.9 ha) and Suseni (two sites, 12.8 ha) – totalling more than 90,000 seedlings.

All reforestations aimed for the natural forest-type in the specific area and are followed by at least three years of maintenance forestry works – until the young forest can grow without help from people.

Our planting sites will be open until early May. If you can’t make it and still want to help, you may want to consider a small donation – for every 2 Euros (10 lei) you donate, we plant a seedling in your name!