A British double-decker bus, covered in images from the Carpathian Forest, has drawn up outside the British Ambassador’s residence in Bucharest.
The top floor has been converted into a classroom, its seats occupied by Romanian schoolchildren. A familiar head appears up the stairs. ‘What have I missed?’ asks Prince Charles. ‘Bears! Wolves! Red squirrels!’ the children shout.
The Prince of Wales is here to support The European Nature Trust, which has turned the bus into a mobile classroom as part of its campaign to save the forests and wildlife of Romania.
It’s a subject close to Charles’s heart. He first came here in 1998 on an official visit – the only time he’s visited on business.
He fell so much under the spell of the place that he bought a house in one of the wooden villages, then acquired another property which he’s turned into a comfortable lodge.
He makes a private visit for a few days every year if he can, preferably in May when the wild flowers are out, and both houses can be rented when Charles isn’t there.
The meadows of Romania are spectacular with a huge variety of species – as many as six times more to the square metre than can be found in Britain – as they’ve never been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides.
The air is fragrant with the scent of herbs such as wild thyme. ‘Stop!’ cried the Prince when he spotted a creamy-coloured flower while walking with friends recently. ‘Here’s the bastard toadflax. I’ve wanted to see the bastard toadflax for ages.’
[…] The forests are also home to wolves and lynx. Scientists believe these large carnivores are essential to the forest ecosystem. If left unchecked, deer would eat every young shoot as it appeared above ground. Wolves and lynx control their numbers, making it possible for the forest to regenerate.
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