Between the 20th and 24th of September 2016, 85 participants from 25 countries met in Sighisoara in Southern Transylvania for the 13th annual conference of the Eurasian Dry Grassland Group (see Fig 1. for a breakdown of the countries). In contrast to the previous 12 “EDG Meetings”, this year it was decided to change the name to “Eurasian Grassland Conference” to reflect the changing scope of these events. Nevertheless, the conference in Sighisoara continued many of the traditions of previous events.
The focus of this year’s conference was Management and Conservation of Semi-Natural Grasslands: from Theory to Practice. Following the theme “from theory to practice”, the pre-conference workshops focused on:
• Scientific Writing, led by Péter Török (University of Debrecen)
• Establishing and Maintaining National Grassland Databases, led by Kiril Vassilev (Bulgarian Acad. Sci.)
• Reflecting Ecology in Policy, led by Jabier Ruiz, Caitriona Maher (European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism) & Clunie Keenleyside (Institute for European Environmental Policy)
The first keynote was given by Professor Joern Fischer of Leuphana University of Lüneburg in Germany, summarising the results of his 5-year transdisciplinary project in Southern Transylvania, the region where the EGC took place.
His research team integrated social and ecological research methods to address the issue of sustainable land use in the region. Based on their findings they produced future scenarios for the social and ecological landscape to stimulate debate about what conservationists and other actors could do to promote sustainable development, not only in the study region but perhaps also in other similar landscapes.
The second keynote talk was given by Dr. Cristina Craioveanu together with Professor László Rákosy of the Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. It focused on the evolution of grasslands in Transylvania and their present day value and conservation, and how research can contribute to this.
In total, there were 26 talks clustered around the topics of grassland policy and socio-economics, management and restoration, ecology and biodiversity, and historical evolution. 32 posters were presented on a wide range of grassland-relevant topics, as well as one poster on arable weeds in low-intensity cultivation systems. We would like to congratulate again the winners of the Young Investigator Prizes for outstanding talks or posters by researchers under the age of 35: Orsolya Valkó, Tsvetelina Terziyska, Csaba Tölgyesi, Szilvia Raócz, Ágnes Balázsi and Eugen Görzen.
After the first day of talks, we took a tour of the beautiful citadel of Sighisoara. The mid-conference excursion took the participants to two sites with slumping hills (movile) that are characteristic for Transylvania. The group visited the office of the NGO Fundatia ADEPT, the main local organizer. A walk through the grasslands of Viscri was followed by the grassland party, with excellent food, local dancers and musicians.
The post-conference excursion was attended by about 40 participants, guided by the local ecologist László Demeter. It gave them the opportunity to explore the mountain hay meadows of the Csik mountains/Gyimes region of Transylvania, as well as try their hand at practical landscape conservation (scything)!
The main conference took place in the newly renovated hall of the Municipality of Sighisoara, which was kindly lent to us free of charge. The Mayor Ovidiu Mălăncrăvean welcomed all the participants at the opening of the conference. The excellent food and a lot of additional assistance was provided by Mihai Serengeu of the central Park Hotel. Our special thanks to these two.
The conference brochure and the book of abstracts are available to download from the conference homepage at http://egc2016.namupro.de/.
The conference organizers would like to thank all the participants of the 2016 EGC in Sighisoara in September for their interesting talks and posters and many stimulating conversations, and we hope you will visit this beautiful region again!
Website of the EGC 2016 in Sighisoara: http://egc2016.namupro.de