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

Studies necessary to justify protection for Târnava Mare site.

Funded by: UK Darwin Initiative

Project Duration: 2004 - 2007 (4 years)

Budget: 156.700  £

Project Objectives

The purpose was divided into three components:

  • Consolidate management measures developed under main project into an official management plan triggering state support,
  • While continuing to build local capacity, to secure the future good management of the project area and conserve its remarkable biodiversity, and
  • Leave a wider legacy in Romania of increased capacity for conservation of High Nature Value Farmed (HNVF) landscapes.

Project Updates

The first management plan for a lowland farmed landscape in Romania.

An innovative database using GIS has been developed and is operational and accessible to all those involved in habitat/species management in the area

Capacity was built among dairy farmers to produce higher quality milk and enable the sale of that milk at much higher rates than was previously possible

19,675 ha of forest has been FSC certified

463 people received some form of training through the project

The project received the “Best CAP communication award” by the European Commission (out of 118 candidate projects)

The project proved to be excellent value for money, with over £8 generated for local biodiversity conservation linked livelihoods from every £1 invested

This studied and activities give the area with a more secure future. It also represents recognition of the scientific strengths and social, environmental and developmental good practices being implemented through the project.

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.

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:

Papers on Flora

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.

Papers on Fauna

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.

List of Works and Reports

  • 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

Managing Body & Contact

Cristi Gherghiceanu

Executive President - Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania

Related Publications

The Darwin Initiative newsletters summarise some underlying concepts of the ADEPT project - the European and global importance of the biodiversity of man-made landscapes, and the key role played by farmers in maintaining such landscapes - and describe some outputs of the project, in particular research into the practical links between specific agricultural management and maintenance of high biodiversity, and economic incentives to promote continued biodiversity-friendly management by linking high nature value farming and agricultural income.

Related Reports

The 13th Darwin Unitiative annual report, October 2010

The document describes some of the lasting contribution made to the conservation of High Nature Value farmed landscapes, and to the conservation of wildflower-rich High Nature Value grasslands, one of the most threatened biotopes in the world. Pages 20-21 describe ADEPT project.

The final, independent report 

The report praises the ADEPT project for the socio-economic benefits and sustainable long-term management it has brought to the Târnava Mare protected area, and the very favourable cost:benefit ratio of 1:9 which the project achieved.

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Our Partners

Local Partners

Mureș Environment Protection Agency, Babeș Bolyai Cluj-Napoca University, Târgu-Mureș Medicine and Pharmacy University, Lucian Blaga Sibiu University, Milvus Group, National Forest Administration

Biodiversity conservation and community development in Transylvania