Our history

When ADEPT started work in 2004, these kinds of semi-natural man-made landscapes did not enjoy support. More recently, policy-makers have increasingly appreciated the wider social, economic and environmental benefits of these kind of farming systems. Fundatia ADEPT is proud that it has contributed to this shift in policy at national and European level.

During the past 14 years, ADEPT has grown from a local project, to an NGO with national and European influence. Its strength in influencing policy derives from the fact that its proposals are based on practical experience through the innovative projects it carries out on the ground.

ADEPT has been working with farmers, local communities, universities, other NGOs, and government at all levels to solve the range of problems threatening the survival of these landscapes and farming communities.

An innovative approach is required if these landscapes and communities are to survive in the 21st century. Fundatia ADEPT is implementing a broad range of conservation and rural development projects aimed at practical conservation linked to local economic and social benefits.

What we do


Field surveys of habitats and species led to inclusion of the area in the EU’s Natura 2000 network. We are now examining relationships between traditional farming systems and wildlife in the project area, significant for conservation at European level.

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We are developing training courses and public awareness programmes: books, school programmes, posters and village festivals, essential to gather local support for conservation and knowledge of its potential economic benefits.

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Developing incentives so that local people benefit from biodiversity conservation, including practical and effective agri-environment measures suited to the area, and grants based on recognition of the landscape as Natura 2000 and High Nature Value.

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Developing a brand linked to the high biodiversity image of the area will help the local economy. We are promoting good standards and marketing to add value to food and other local products including responsible rural tourism.

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What has ADEPT done in its 18 years?
Some highlights

High-profile visits

High-profile visits have had a big impact on local opinion as well as on policymakers’ understanding of the importance of these communities and landscape.

Natura 2000 Network

ADEPT has successfully promoted the inclusion of Târnava Mare area in Natura 2000 EU Network. This is Romania’s largest SCI in the continental biogeographical region, covering about 85,000 ha.

Monitoring the area

Carrying out biodiversity and socio-economic monitoring of the area. These activities build up valuable long-term data about the evolution of the area: social, economic and natural.

Innovative mapping systems

Innovative GIS mapping system developed for large-scale conservation, which can be replicated more widely and can assist both conservation management and agricultural management.

Encouraging Cooperation

Promoting development of farmer associations: only by cooperating and working in association can these small-scale farmers and communities survive.

Policy Influencer

8,000 ha in Târnava Mare receive incentive payments for good management of grasslands. New agri-environment measures developed so all farmers of Romania to be supported to maintain their grasslands.


Trainings for famers on food hygiene, agro-tourism, accounting etc. School nature classes and activities designed to motivate children to get involved in protecting further the area.

Innovative marketing

Branding and adding value to local products, raising farmer incomes linked to the High Nature Value of the area and the high quality of their products. Developing mobile apps.


Informative materials, flora and fauna species guides produced for long-term use in the area and more widely in Transylvania for visitors, farmers and schools.

Milk Collection Points

ADEPT helped authorisation for 8 milk collection points in the villages in the area, and provided training and milk testing equipment to monitor maintenance of quality standards.

Diversification of Income

Networks of guesthouses, mountain-bike trails (100 km linking 8 Saxon villages with Sighișoara), walking trails and nature guide trainings.

Revival of local crafts

Established and opened a permanent Pottery Workshop in Saschiz whose aim is to revive the traditional crafts of the Târnava Mare.

Our Journery

Beginning – in the local fields.

Darwin and Orange enable us to start. We do local activities with farmed landscapes and communities

National level profile offered by visits of Prince Charles and Slow Food boss Carlo Petrini. We begin to do national level activities

ADEPT influence reaches Europe. We link up with wider European policy coalition on High Nature Value farmed landscapes. We become one of the leading NGOs in Europe working for small-scale farmed landscapes and communities

We have increasing policy influence at national level, so that local lessons are spread nationally. And increasing influence at EU level. Never forgetting our base: practical projects on the ground

Involved in several international projects. We keep innovating and thinking of new ways of bringing local benefits

ADEPT’s combination of practical work and policy work attracts interest: seems to be a very unusual formula for success. We win top prize at European level 2 years in succession for innovative communication with farmers. This helps us continue to influence policy at EU level

ADEPT reviews strategy, with help of Fauna and Flora International: goal to consolidate local and national results in the long-term by building capabilities of ADEPT team, and by establishing associations and confederations to give a voice to small-scale farmers

2000 - John Akeroyd discovers the
importance of the landscape and wildflowers.

• World Bank funds feasibility study for ADEPT.


Registered as Foundation: Nat Page, John Akeroyd and Cristi Gherghiceanu founder members


UK Darwin Initiative funds first major project, to protect Târnava Mare landscape and communities.
• Orange Romania offers co-finance (continuing to this day).
ADEPT activities can begin from this moment.


• ADEPT moves into Saschiz
• ADEPT receives Bucharest Business Week award for rural development.
ADEPT begins pilot project to develop grassland support payments, leading to millions of Euros to support for hundreds of thousands of farmers to continue to manage their wildflower-rich grasslands.
• Funding from Micklem Trust – continuing to this day
• Funding from Parthenon Trust
• Funding from Romanian Ministry of Environment
• Ben Mehedin joins ADEPT – bringing skills in food processing and marketing
• ADEPT joins Slow Food


Carlo Petrini Founder of Slow Food visits in May
• First visit by Prince Charles. Funding received from Prince’s Trust for brochure to help small-scale producers
• Funding from Environment for Europe (British Embassy)
• Orange Romania staff volunteer activities – constructing walking trails
• Orange Romania donates vehicles
First farmers’ markets tested by ADEPT in Bucharest in other cities


• UNDP Small Project approved for community development – schools, etc.
• Razvan joins ADEPT, bringing skills and experience in agri-environment, training/moderation


Second visit by Prince Charles: he opens the Food Barn in Saschiz.
• Innovation Norway grant to build milk collection points in 8 villages
• Second Darwin Initiative project begins, management planning for the Tarnava Mare area
• Small grant from Netherlands government to create a coalition for High Nature value grasslands
• Cornel Stanciu joins ADEPT – brings tourism and outdoor sports especially mountain-biking skills
Cooperation with FFI begins


• LIFE STIPA project begins: direct actions for dry grassland restoration: mowing grassland; school nature classes, establishing micro-reserves
Innovation Norway – Milk collection points completed – farmers commercially viable, cow numbers stop falling, and increase instead
• HNV conference in Sibiu 200 people including EU Commission, 18 countries
• Funding from Ministry of Environment
• ADEPT begins to attend EU meetings in Brussels, consulted on future policy


Wild Carpathia film made, international coverage
• Extra agri-environment measures written by ADEPT agreed by Bucharest and Brussels: farmers’ incentives to maintain important orchard and damp grasslands with butterflies, 200,000 ha of each become eligible for payments.
• Agri-environment grassland measures pioneered by ADEPT are the largest scheme in the Rural Development Programme: 230,000 farmers, 1.2 million ha.
• Farmers meeting Sighisoara – over 200 farmers meet, first meeting creates a tradition
“Know what you are eating, know where it comes from” marketing campaign by ADEPT, funded by EU DG Agriculture, reaches over 1.5 million TV viewers and helps to promote farmers’ markets in 4 cities
• First bike trail built


• DG Education and Culture funding begins for “Our Agro-biodiversity”– a 6-country project protecting traditional agricultural breeds and varieties
• EU Culture Programme funding begins for Wildflower Europe project, including also Plantlife (UK): each of the four partner countries will organize volunteers to make a ‘patchwork meadow’ of wildflower embroideries to be shown around Europe
Third visit by Prince Charles – see a Brielmaier mower in action, visits special grassland reserve
• Camelia Botnar Foundation partnership with ADEPT to revive local pottery traditions: training in UK and setting up a small factory in Saschiz
ADEPT wins funding from European Outdoor Conservation Association, for building an 8 km mountain-bike trail linking 3 villages, by winning Europe-wide competition.
• Orange Foundation takes over long-term support fro ADEPT from Orange Romania: support continues.
• ADEPT wins top prize in Europe for communicating with farmers, under the CAP @50 award


• Second farmers meeting Sighisoara – over 200 farmers meet
• Laura Chirila joins ADEPT – brings marketing and communication skills
• Funded from EU Civil Society Facility for project involving 10 Balkan countries, supporting traditional / regional foods
Commissioner Ciolos visits ADEPT office and activities, DG Agriculture makes a film.
• ADEPT wins Swiss government funding for 3 projects promoting viability of High Nature Value landscapes and communities; and building a further 70 km of bike trail.
• Operation Wallacea, international education programme that brings students to chosen global biodiversity hotspots, links up with ADEPT as its only European partner.
• ADEPT is co-organiser of Brussels policy conference
ADEPT is co-founder of Confederation of Peasant Farmers of Romania, established to give a voice to Romania’s 3 million small-scale farmers
• ADEPT wins top prize in Europe for innovative communication with farmers, under the DG Agriculture Telling the Story competition


• Third farmers meeting Sighisoara – over 200 farmers meet
ADEPT is shortlisted for best Natura 2000 project in Europe for bringing social and economic benefits from natural protected areas.
• ADEPT represents Romania in the shortlist for European Landscape Award, under the European Landscape Convention, Council of Europe


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Our Strategic Partners

Biodiversity conservation and community development in Transylvania