Prince of Wales campaigning to save Count Dracula forests
The Prince of Wales has joined a campaign to save the ‘fairytale forests’ of Romania, because his Transylvanian ancestors can be traced back to to Vlad the Impaler.
By Louise Gray
The dark forests of the Carpathian Mountains, that once inspired the vampire legend, are some of the last untouched wilderness areas in Europe.
Many of the tiny Saxon villages have not changed for centuries and bears and wolves can still be found in the woods.
However rapid economic growth in the new EU country of Romania means that both the forests and the ancient way of life is under threat from building and demand for timber.
The Prince, who recently brought a home in a small village in the area, is calling for protection for the forests before they are lost forever like the woodland that once covered much of Britain.
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He even claims to have a family connection to Transylvania through Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, better known as Vlad the Impaler, who was distantly related to his great grandmother Queen Mary.
The 15th Century nobleman, famous for his bloodthirsty killing, is said to have inspired Bram Stoker’s dracula that started the whole vampire legend.
Speaking in a new documentary about the Carpathian Mountains, that will be aired on the Travel Channel just before Halloween, he jokes about his family links to “Count Dracula”.
“The genealogy shows I am descended from Vlad the Impaler, so I do have a bit of a stake in the country,” he said.
Following a trend for buying houses in rural Romania while it is still cheap, the Prince has bought a 150-year-old five bedroom house in the village of Zalapanpatak, which is said to have been founded by one of his Transylvanian ancestors.
He said it was vital to protect the “timeless” quality in the area that is like “the stories one was read as a child”.
The house is currently being restored as a holiday home for the Royal Family and a guest house that helps maintain jobs and rural skills in the area.
“It seems to me in Transylvania there is a combination of the natural ecosystem with a human cultural system,” he said. “This extraordinarily unique integrated relationship is so hugely important. People are yearning for that sense of belonging and identity and meaning.”
The Prince warned that if the forests are chopped down, Romania will end up barren like areas of the Highlands of Scotland or Canada that were once covered by virgin forest.
“If we carry on the same way we end up with destruction occurring and people saying later on want this back,” he said.
Magor Csibi, Country Manager of WWF’s Danube-Carpathian Programme in Romania, said 250,000 hectares of virgin forests in Romania are in urgent need of protection. The area represents up to 65 per cent of the virgin forests still remaining in Europe, outside of Russia, and is home to brown bears, lynx and 13,000 other speices.
“Saving all our forests and their unrivalled biodiversity is our mission, but the pinnacle of this mission is the protection of our virgin forests”, he said. “We will never be able to rebuild this part of nature. Once lost, it is lost forever. Considering that we are among the last European nations fortunate enough to have such a treasure, it is our moral obligation to preserve this piece of nature intact and to leave a small piece of wilderness to our children”.
WWF seeking protection for over 80 per cent of Romania’s virgin forests, which are currently under threat.