Stories from a 'Land Beyond the Forest' by Paul White


StrayI have always been fascinated by the resilience of local stray dogs that live tough lives on our streets, forests and fields. They are constantly on the move looking for their next meal, whilst at the same time trying to avoid the many dangers that face them. The harshest season by far is the long and extremely cold winter, when the temperature regularly plummets to -20 oC and has been known to drop even further to -30 oC. If the cold doesn't kill them, then the wolves that come down from the mountains during the night is search of food, often do. Are stray dogs aggressive? In my experience, the answer is an emphatic NO. They are just trying to survive, which involves finding food to eat and a shelter to protect themselves from the elements. As long and we don't threaten or scare them, they tend to avoid us. Continue....


NAT GEO FilmingFilming in Transylvania - In January 2011 NAT GEO Television approached me requesting my assistance to help them make a film about predators in the eastern Carpathians. This was part of a larger project called the Secret Life of Predators, filmed in several locations around the globe. Of course I jumped at the chance as I am always looking for opportunities to raise awareness of this bio-diverse ecosystem which is under ever increasing pressure from hunting and logging, so a high quality production from National Geographic will do much to achieve this. 65% of Europe's remaining virgin forests can be found here in Romania, which contains all of the top predators/carnivores including lynx, wolf and bear. Continue....


My beautiful Foxy playing in the meadow :)
Foxy turned up on my doorstep as a stray pup on a cold winters evening in 2008. Bizarrely it was on the eve of my birthday when the temperatures were well below freezing. I didn't bring her into my house because I thought she would return to her mother when she was cold and hungry enough. However, she remained on my doorstep overnight, and when I opened my door the following morning she stood there looking at me shivering with cold. Continue....


Lukacs Hunor
Beekeeping & honey production in the eastern Carpathians - This is one rural industry that up to now I have avoided. Why? Because I knew there would be a high risk of getting stung! But I can no longer afford to ignore the vital work of the beekeepers, whose bees not only pollinate local crops but also produce fine honey from a natural local environment. Lukacs Hunor is my neighbour and he comes from a family of beekeepers, whose main income is generated from honey sold on local markets. Continue....


Transhumant Shepherds - CernatThe transhumant pastoral shepherds of Transylvania migrate across the vast forested Carpathian mountain range from spring to autumn in search of fresh grazing for their livestock. They follow a network of forest corridors leading to open meadows rich with wild flowers. In such a truly wild environment where bears and wolves roam freely, both shepherds and their dogs need to be vigilant to protect their flocks. Continue....


Gypsy funeral wake - SchonbergThere is a rich and vibrant Roma Gypsy culture in Transylvania, and although their history is full of persecution and quite appalling treatment, I want to concentrate on the Roma of today. It is quite incredible that so little is known about them when you consider their community makes up approximately 2% of the Romanian population, and estimated to grow rapidly due to a higher than average birth rate. Continue....


Ojdula to OituzOn my regular walks within the Carpathian mountain range, I am provided with stunning scenery and views that stretch across forested valleys and peaks. This region boasts some of the largest virgin broad leaf forests in Europe, and although under intense commercial pressure, large areas remain intact, complete with healthy numbers of wild bears, wolves and lynx.


Laura and her MarrowsWe decided to grow a lot of our own food to help keep daily costs down. Preparation of the soil starts early in spring ready for planting. Laura takes full credit for the bumper harvests as she spends most of her free time weeding and removing Colorado beetles! We have fresh fruit and vegetables right through the summer and what remains we either store or pickle for the winter.


Exploring TransylvaniaAccess when exploring wilderness areas of Transylvania is not always easy, especially when there is a requirement to carry heavy equipment. For me the perfect vehicle for such terrain is the Land Rover Defender. With great articulation and immense power this vehicle can access most areas. However, if I do happen to get stuck there are several options to get moving again including the use of a 12,000 lb winch. Continue....


Insulating wallsNot wanting to experience the cold of another harsh Romanian winter inside our house we decided to have the walls insulated as a priority. 2009 also saw our connection to the village water supply and the completion of our new septic, which meant an inside toilet could be installed at last! Read the full story here in Our home in Transylvania


Mountain RoseWhen hiking above 1500 metres the flora looks quite different from what you find in the valleys. On a trip to the Piatre Mare I was struck by the variety and colour of the flowers that surrounded me. I relied on my companions to name several of the species we saw, and I would be grateful to anyone that can help identify those remaining on my Alpine Flora page.


Walking in the Carpathian mountainsWinter in Transylvania is truly cold with temperatures dropping to as low as -25 0C. However, this is a wonderful season to be in Romania where everything is covered in a thick blanket of snow causing a mysterious silence within the forest. That said, not even these extreme conditions curtail our adventures into the wilderness!


Rampion
How much do you know about wild plants and flowers? We are in the process of photographing and documenting the abundant and exceptional flora located on meadows surrounding the village of Ojdula. I would be pleased if you could assist me with this project by identifying as many plants and flowers as possible. In return I will add your details to each specimen correctly identified. Continue....