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Biodiversity conservation and community development in Transylvania
Conservarea biodiversităţii şi dezvoltare comunitară în Transilvania

Research: identification and conservation of the habitats and species of Târnava Mare as a model for European conservation

Since 2003, ADEPT has coordinated teams of British and Romanian specialists in the inventory of the important species and habitats of the area. The following is a partial list of work and reports carried out:
  • Aquatic and semi-aquatic species and habitats including vegetation, fish, invertebrates: Dragulescu, C., Banaduc, D.,  Banaduc, A.
  • Birds: Sandor, A., Asociatia Milvus, David, A.,
  • Flora and habitats: Sarbu, A., Oroian, S., Cristea, V., Jones, A., Akeroyd, J., Schneider-Binder, E.
  • Fungi: Bucsa 
  • Forests: Stelian, R., Gafta, D., Abran, P.
  • Butterflies: Rakosy, L.
  • Gastropods: Gheoca, V. 
  • Bats: Farkas, Coroiu, I
  • Mammals: Benedek, A. M., Coroiu, I., Abran, P
  • Reptiles and amphibians: Hartel, I., Ghira, I 
  • Socio-economic baselines and surveys: Cazan, M., Popa, R., Larkham, K 
  • GIS mapping, database and interactive conservation management software: Bogdan Florescu.
The research carried out by many of the contributors has played the major part in the designation of the area as the largest Natura 2000 Site of [European] Community Interest (SCI) in Romania’s continental biogeographic region, a significant achievement. This contribution to knowledge of the Saxon Villages region will be essential for those drawing up future management plans, although a huge amount of additional work needs to be carried out.

Work in some of these areas has been brought together in the Transylvanian Review of Systematical and Ecological Research, Vol 4 – The Saxon Villages Region of southeast Transylvania, 2007, including the following papers:

Macromycetes of the Breite Nature Reserve of ancient oaks by Livia Bucsa presents preliminary research on 121 species of macro-fungi collected on the Breite plateau in 2006.

The riverside thickets of the Saxon Villages area of south-east Transylvania by Constantin Dragulescu provides a summary of published botanical information on the area, together with results of the author’s study of pools, ditches, tall herb and arborescent communities. Of most concern for conservation are some 500 ha of willow and poplar communities of the Salicion albae alliance, which are in need of protection.
Xerophilous and Xero-Mesophilous grasslands on slumping hills around the Saxon villages Apold and Saschiz by Erika Schneider-Binder is a summary of the author’s important long-term studies of unstable, species-rich hillocks that are a landscape feature of the Saxon Villages. The complex mosaic of xerophilic, mesophilic and even montane species, with local small-scale variation in plant communities, on steep, often unstable slopes is of great ecological importance and requires careful conservation measures.

The challenge of High Nature Value grasslands conservation in Transylvania by Andrew Jones, is an examination of  the mosaic of grassland communities in the Târnava Mare Plateau with reference to the problem of conserving farm grassland in the face of the profound economic changes resulting from Romania’s EU accession. A key aspect of grassland conservation will be to protect and manage large contiguous areas, ensuring that farmers receive benefit from biodiversity conservation measures taken.

The xero-mezophilic and xerophilic grasslands of Festuco-Brometea class in the Sighisoara-Târnava Mare potential Natura 2000 site, by Silvia Oroian, Mariana Hiritiu and Manuela Curticapean, identifies the principal habitats and communities in the floristically rich dry grassland that is such a feature of the area. The authors provide extensive phyto-sociological tables and note the presence of 25 species of considerable rarity, either threatened at a European level or on national Red Lists.
Ruderal flora of the Saxon Villages: a neglected conservation community by John Akeroyd looks at a group of plants that are not rare but are often ignored by conservationists but are of major cultural significance. Several of these species have disappeared in other parts of Europe.


Aspects regarding the terrestrial malacofauna of the Saxon Villages area of Southern Transylvania, by Voichita Gheoca, presents a preliminary survey and systematic list of 50 molluscs in different habitats, especially riverside thickets, which were richest in species, including the edible Helix pomatia, which might be the basis of judicious economic exploitation.

Benthic macro-invertebrate and fish communities of some southern Târnava Mare river tributaries by Angela Curtean-Bănăduc and Doru Bănăduc is an extensive analysis of macro-invertebrate and fish communities in15 sections of the rivers feeding the Târnave Mare from the south. The authors show that these rivers are ecologically sensitive, with good populations of protected species, and that the Stejăreni and Criş valleys still remain substantially biologically intact. Other rivers are more impacted by human activity and all will require management and monitoring.

The herpetofauna of the Sighisoara area, by Ioan Ghira, gives a general account of the 13 amphibians and eight reptiles recorded in the area (of a national total herpetofauna of 42) in 2005-7. Notes on ecology, distribution and threats (14 species are threatened, including Pelobates fuscus) effectively make this a provisional Red Data book for the area.

Distribution, population size and dynamics of the white stork (Ciconia ciconia L.) in the Hârtibaciu River basin by Ferenc Kosa and Tamas Papp is based on data on breeding pairs collected in 2004, this shows that stork numbers in the Hârtibaciu River basin have decreased by some 30% since 1974, although the population appears to be potentially stable. It is worth noting that Milvus Group (including Tamas Papp), have identified the area as the most important Natura 2000 SPA in Transylvania, notably for its populations of Lesser Spotted Eagle (Aquila pomarina). Such high populations of raptors, as of large carnivore mammals, in the area are a good indication of pristine habitats.

Small mammals (Insectivora and Rodentia) from the Agnita-Sighisoara area by Ana Maria Benedek shows that this group too is richly represented in the area. The variety of habitats, especially the margins of mixed broadleaf forest and cultivated fields, plays an important role, and 13 species (of 19 known) were captured in the present survey.


Biodiversity in the area

Flora and Fauna





The European Dry Grasslands Group

Fundatia ADEPT is a member of The European Dry Grasslands Group (EDGG), a network of dry grassland researchers and conservationists in Europe.  EDGG basic aims are to compile and to distribute information on research and conservation in dry grasslands beyond national borders, and to stimulate active cooperation among dry grassland scientists (exchanging data, common data standards, joint projects).For further details see

The EDGG covers all aspects related to dry grasslands, in particular: plants - animals - fungi - microbia - soils - taxonomy - phylogeography - ecophysiology - population biology - species interactions - vegetation ecology - syntaxonomy - landscape ecology - biodiversity - land use history - agriculture - nature conservation - restoration - environmental legislation - environmental education. 

See also agri-environment research projects

Research into the area has been assisted by the following specialists:

Scientific coordinator

  • Dr. Angela Bănăduc

Univ. Babes Bolyai,Cluj-Napoca

  • Prof Vasile Cristea (flora and habitats)
  • Prof Laszlo Rakosy (insects)
  • Dr Dan Gafta (forests and habitats)
  • Dr Ioan Ghira (reptiles and amphibians)
  • Dr Ion Coroiu (mammals)

Univ. de Medicină şi Farmacie Targu-Mures:

  • Prof Silvia Oroian (flora and habitats)
  • Dr Mihaela Samarghitan (flora)
  • Ing. Mariana Stoian (flora)
  • Ph.D. student Manuela Curticapean (flora)

Univ. Lucian Blaga Sibiu

  • Prof Constantin Drăgulescu (plants and aquatic habitats)
  • Dr. Angela Bănăduc (aquatic macro-invertebrates)
  • Dr. Doru Bănăduc (fish and aquatic habitats)
  • Dr. Voichiţa Gheoca (Gastropoda)
  • Dr. Daniela Ilie (Heteroptera)
  • Dr Erika Schneider-Binder (flora and habitats)
  • Dr Livia Bucsa (fungi)

NGOs and Agencies

  • Bogdan Florescu ( GIS mapping and database)
  • Milvus Group (birds)
  • Dr John Akeroyd (flora and habitats)
  • Dr Andrew Jones (grassland)
  • Dr Radu Stelian, National Forest Administration (forest habitats)  


Further reading

See references for further reading on the area.
Sponsorul Oficial - Fundația Orange România