Târnava Mare - Securing the Future of a Transylvanian HNV Landscape

Official management plan development, building local capacity and securing sustainable management of the Târnava Mare area

Funded by: UK Darwin Initiative

Project Duration: 2010 – 2012 (2 years)

Budget: £156,700

Project Objectives

In 2010, Darwin Initiative awarded Fundatia ADEPT this post-project grant, sought to produce an official management plan that would induce state support while continuing to build local capacity and secure sustainable management of the Târnava Mare area. The project also aimed to conserve the area’s biodiversity and leave a legacy of increased capacity for conservation of HNVF landscapes for other areas in Romania to look up to.

The main activities of the project were to create a database for monitoring of habitat/species condition; to develop management guidelines, test their implementation and draft an integrated management plan; to facilitate workshops to train farmers on how to better market their produce; to promote Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification of forested areas; and to publicise the importance of and value in conserving HNVF landscapes through newsletters, school camps, teacher training, etc.

The project purpose  was divided into three components:

1. consolidate management measures developed under main project into an official management plan triggering state support,

2. while continuing to build local capacity, to secure the future good management of the project area and conserve its remarkable biodiversity

3. leave a wider legacy in Romania of increased capacity for conservation of High Nature Value Farmed (HNVF) landscapes.

Project Updates

The project published a framework management plan in December 2012. However, state support has not yet commenced as the plan has not yet been acknowledged in Romanian law and will not be until at least 2015 when a combined management plan with the Podisul Hârtibaciului SPA Natura 2000 site has been completed.

Farmers managing 24,505 ha of grassland are now receiving payments from HNV grassland agri-environment schemes to support ‘biodiversity-friendly’ farming as a result of the project’s farm advisory activities. Programmes have also been established for scientific and technical education in the identification, conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity rich land.

The project has succeeded in leaving a legacy in Romania of increased capacity for conservation of HNVF landscapes.

The project facilitated cooperation between the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and worked with small scale farmers in the area. In doing so, the project increased the utilisation of agri-environment payment schemes and provided formal training in relevant fields to encourage sustainable management of the land so the potential value of biodiversity rich farmed landscapes can be fully realised. As the agri-environment schemes are directly linked to biodiversity (on the basis of the number of indicator species found in an area of land) as opposed to agricultural outputs, farmers are encouraged to manage their land in the way that has the most positive effect on biodiversity, as this will in turn likely have the most positive effect on their income. Using this approach, and through the implementation of a database for monitoring indicator species levels, biodiversity can be monitored effectively, and declines in species addressed more quickly and successfully. As a result of the increased agri-environment payments, it has been indicated that local farmers are receiving higher incomes than before (although clear evidence of this has not been provided).

Two MSc qualifications have been obtained and a further 35 qualifications awarded to locals. The Final Report claims that 463 people have received some form of training (although no evidence has been submitted to substantiate this) while 6 papers have been accepted for publication in peer reviewed journals and 20 conferences attended at which project work has been disseminated.

FSC (the only forest certification scheme endorsed by major environmental NGOs such as WWF) certification of almost 20,000 ha will help to ensure biodiversity conservation of much of the forested area (although evidence of this certification was not provided). The project, and the publications it has produced, emphasise the high biodiversity value that (non- intensive) farmed landscapes can offer in Europe and thus the importance of this type of project in that context.

In addition to conserving biodiversity, the project has supported the livelihoods of local populations, with farms covering most of the project area’s grassland receiving agri- environment payments and an improvement of milk quality to make it commercially viable producing a total additional income of EUR 16,000/month for 100 dairy farmers. The project has also been involved in training hundreds of locals in sustainable management of the land and educated locals on the conservation value of forest and grassland areas, which can now be visually demonstrated following the GIS mapping of the landscape and the database updated to monitor indicator species (guides for which have been developed in collaboration with Babes-Bolyai University).

The project made good use of partnerships with local universities to collaborate on management planning and one senior member of staff has been involved with a local partner to the extent of taking up an Associate Professorship and the position of Associate Editor1 of the journal Contributii Botanice at Cluj University.

The project is also involved in the policy discourse in this area, which FUNDATIA being a Member of the Romanian National Monitoring Committee and head of the agri-environment and rural development working group of CEEweb (an umbrella organisation of NGOs in the region). The innovation poster (Final Report Annex D) shows that following communication with consumers, policy development is achieved through cooperation with the Romanian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development which in turn acts as a “one-stop shop for farmers” to access information on a wide range of topics related to their livelihoods.

Key Facts for Project Publicity

  • The Târnava Mare HNV project created 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)
  • Over 500,000 people were reached (both directly and indirectly) by the project’s media strategy
  • The project proved to be excellent value for money, with over £8 generated for local biodiversity conservation linked livelihoods from every £1 invested.

This has maximised the results of the original project, and significantly strengthened its long-term impact and legacy. This gives 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.

This was a prize winning project that was awarded “Best CAP communication award” by the European Commission (out of 118 candidate projects). Fauna & Flora International has said that it is a model local integrated development project.

Managing Body & Contact

Cristi Gherghiceanu

Executive President - Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania

Darwin Initiative newsletter highlights the ADEPT project

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.

Our Partners

Biodiversity conservation and community development in Transylvania