Biodiversity in the area – scientific, economic and cultural importance

A man-made, semi-natural landscape

The biodiversity of man-made landscapes is often richer than that of wilderness areas, because the mosaic of habitats encourages species diversity. And their protection is more complex, since the interests of local human populations must be taken into account, and the continuation of traditional land management encouraged. 

This low-input farming in a rich natural landscape provides an opportunity to study historical ecology by direct observation and is increasingly relevant in current economic conditions.  In addition to the grassland and forest habitats and species, the villages themselves retain a rich genetic heritage of fruit trees, flowers, herbs, vegetables, and ancient medicinal plants. The grassland flora is also an important genetic resource for agriculture, being rich in forage crops such as sainfoin and clovers, and crop relatives such as wild members of the cabbage family.

Threats to biodiversity

Although this ancient and special landscape remains substantially intact, the whole area is extremely fragile. Application of artificial fertilisers would seriously damage or destroy many of the wildflower meadows, allowing coarse or vigorous grasses to invade.

Research has identified a number of the most frequent and substantial threats to wild plants and animals and their habitats in the Saxon Villages, which must be addressed in conservation strategies for the area:
• Intensification of grassland management, with nutrient over-enrichment by fertilisers or high stocking rates, or over-grazing, especially by sheep
• Abandonment or reduction of traditional land management practices such as mowing or scrub clearance
• Unsustainable forestry practices such as clear-felling with loss of tree cover, or planting with exotic trees
• Drainage or alteration of the small surviving wetlands
• Further spread of invasive weeds, especially aggressive alien species such as Japanese Knotweed
• Unsuitable infrastructure development for tourism or industry
• Unsustainable collection of medicinal plants or other wild species
• Loss of ruderal plants around villages, including medicinal herbs and other species of economic or cultural value
• Climate change, perhaps with increased drought
• Lack of public knowledge and information about the rich ecological and cultural value of the area.

Related Projects

Ecosystem Services from High Nature Value farmland - Green industry - Romania

Environmental friendly and profitable farmer’s production in five local communities in the Transylvanian region by combining traditional land management and ecosystem services.
Funded by: a grant from Norway through the Norway Grants 2009-2014, in the frame of Green Industry Innovation Programme Romania
Project Duration: 2012 - 2014 (2 years)

What is Natura 2000?

The Tarnava Mare area was included in the EU Natura 2000 network in 2008. ADEPT and collaborators are designing a comprehensive plan for managing and protecting the mosaic of habitats and associated species, and compensating farmers Natura 2000 is the European Union’s network of protected areas. Its aim is to safeguard Europe’s biodiversity and to promote biodiversity - friendly economic activities.

The Natura 2000 Network is the EU’s main instrument for nature conservation, under which habitats and associated species are protected, with economic activities permitted that do not damage those habitats and species identified for protection. Within a Natura 2000 area, a range of protection measures can be taken, suited to local conditions.

Selection as Natura 2000 site is recognition of an area’s importance at an European level - a source of pride for local communities that also offers considerable economic opportunities.

Conservation of the HNV landscape

ADEPT has successfully promoted the inclusion of Târnava Mare area in Natura 2000 EU Network. In 2008, Târnava Mare area was approved by the Government of Romania and EU DG Environment as a Natura 2000 site (Site of Community Interest, SCI, under EU Habitats Directive) covering about 85,000 ha. This is Romania’s largest farmland Natura Site, and as such is a flagship for farm-based nature conservation in Romania.

The Târnava Mare area is an important national pilot area for testing EU incentives for good grassland management. ADEPT and collaborators are designing a comprehensive plan for managing and protecting the mosaic of habitats, and the species that inhabit them, at the same time helping farmers to fulfil Natura 2000 obligations and to gain access to special funding or other opportunities available as a result of Natura 2000 designation. Biodiversity conservation measures will only be practical and effective if designed in close cooperation with local people.

Related Projects

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

Studies necessary to justify protection for Târnava Mare site.
Funded by: UK Darwin Initiative
Project Duration: 2004 - 2007 (4 years)

RBAPS - Results-Based Payments for Biodiversity: A New Pilot Agri-Environment Scheme for the Tarnava Mare and Pogány Havas Regions

A “results-based” agri-environment scheme which is targeted at High Nature Value hay meadows, rewarding practical management that produces good quality hay and protects wild species.
Funded by:DG Environment
Project Duration: 2016 - 2019 (3 years)

STACCATO - SusTaining AgriCultural ChAnge Through ecological engineering and Optimal use of natural resources

Focus on the analysis and evaluation of Ecosystem Services (ESS), both in isolation and in concert, and their sensitivity to land use patterns in agriculturally dominated landscapes
Funded by:a BiodivERsA funded EU project
2014 - 2018 (4 years)

Protection of habitats by land purchase

Protection by purchase of blocks of land of high biodiversity value, that are threatened by land management changes.
Funded by: Fauna and Flora International and Grass Valley Trust
Project Duration: 2013- 2018 (5 years)

For Nature and Local Communities - Basics of a Natura 2000 integrated management in the Hârtibaciu - Târnava Mare area -Olt

Development of the Management Plan for the Natura 2000 site Sighisoara - Tarnava Mare; RO SCI 0027.
Funded by: POS Mediu
Project Duration: 2011 - 2015 ( 4 years)

Ecosystem Services from High Nature Value farmland - Green industry - Romania

Environmental friendly and profitable farmer’s production in five local communities in the Transylvanian region by combining traditional land management and ecosystem services.
Funded by: a grant from Norway through the Norway Grants 2009-2014, in the frame of Green Industry Innovation Programme Romania
Project Duration: 2012 - 2014 (2 years)

Târnava Mare SCI: Saving Transylvania’s Important Pastoral Ecosystem (STIPA)

Improvement of the conservation status of Sighișoara-Târnava Mare SCI Natura 2000 site, a priority dry grassland habitat.
Funded by: the LIFE+ Nature and Biodiversity Programme of the European Union and Fundația Orange
Project Duration: 2011 - 2014 (3 years)

Wild Flower Europe – Celebrating rural cultures and landscape

Celebrating artistic and cultural diversity in rural communities and promoting this diversity in Europe
Funded by: DG Culture - European Commission
2012 - 2014 (2 years)

Agri - environment

The biodiversity of the area can be conserved only if traditional land management continues. Fundatia ADEPT gives high priority to creating long-term incentives for traditional management, in the form either of grants or of commercial incentives.

The immediate priority is to improve the future for agriculture and to increase the incomes of farmers, yet ensuring that nature conservation has a central role in countryside management. In the case of such a human-influenced, semi-natural landscape, traditional economic activities are in fact necessary to protect the habitats and species.

Agri-environment is the interface between biodiversity conservation and agriculture. In the case of Transylvania (unlike most of Europe) agri-environment measures are actually the continuation of current (traditional) management.
*These activities are supported by EU agri-environment grants under the Romanian National Rural Development.

Fundația ADEPT - Policies influencer

The identification of High Nature Value grasslands, identification of useful indicator species to judge condition of grasslands, and creation of innovative mapping systems that will assist both conservation management and agricultural management.

The creation of guidelines for their continued traditional management, for example: mowing of hay meadows at least once per year, but after 1 July; low stocking rates on pastureland; rotational grazing to prevent damage; not using artificial fertizer; optional higher payments for hand mowing.

The promotion of financial incentives for traditional management. Agri-environment measures have a cost to the farmer, in terms of increased labour and reduced production, and it is essential to give reasonable economic incentives in the form of compensatory payments.

ADEPT has provided technical support to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forests and Rural Development (MAFRD) to assist with the preparation of the NRDP, which establishes the framework for financial assistance available for rural development after Romania’s EU accession. A key issue was ensuring that economic and social development measures for rural areas are fully integrated with measures to ensure sustainable natural resource use. ADEPT has successfully piloted agri-environment schemes (SAPARD 3.3) in the Tarnava Mare, which significantly helped with the design of Romanian agri-environment measures under PNDR (Measure 214).

The work of  ADEPT has contributed useful pilot experience that has fed back into policy in Bucharest. Fundaţia ADEPT is a member of the NRDP Consultative Committee.

ADEPT Farm Advisory Service has shown value of local extension services: 7 times the number of farmers and 5 times the area in agri-environment schemes compared to neighbouring areas without Farm Advisory Service .

Comparative take-up of agri-environment in communes in which ADEPT was active, compared to other communes in Mures county, 2009 (official data):

The shepherds in our area get €124 /ha basic grassland agri-environment payments + €58 ha non-mechanization + €100/ha direct payments = total €282 per ha per year. They are not changing their behavior. But without agri-environment payments they would not continue. Thus we can identify multiple  biodiversity and other ecosystem service benefits.

Measure 214 is also supporting community grazing. Agri-environment payments, when used by common grazing associations, are reversing the decline in cattle numbers. This is important for maintaining hay meadow management: common grazing helps small herd owners. Each farmer with 2-3 cows mows at different times creating an ideal mosaic for biodiversity

Scrub clearance is strictly enforced under measure 214.

Overview

The rough-and-ready criterion for HNV grassland in Romania left some gaps.
Some HNV mapped by Corine is not included by the current rule of thumb, more than 50% grassland per commune.
Nevertheless, imaginative cooperation between NGOs and Ministry has allowed some of these gaps to be filled.

Additional measure from 2012

Protecting traditional grazed orchards ADEPT, Romanian Lepidopterological Society and MARD
Additional 195.000 ha of extensive orchards are now eligible, from 2012, for grassland payments throughout HNV area, under modified Measure 214/1 Euros 9m per years additional incentive payments.
Very important for the survival of biodiversity-rich traditional grazed orchards

New measure 214/6 Maculinea package


Using butterflies as umbrella species for damp grassland conservation outside designated HNV area
Additional 26 communes in Cluj and Bucovina eligible although outside “HNV” area.
Walk-behind mowers permitted, innovative approach
About 200.000 ha grasslands more inserted in the HNV area.
Payment 252 Euros/Ha. 50m Euros per year brought to directly support damp grassland conservation.

Key success factors

Simple design. Although there might be some gaps resulting from simple definitions (e.g. of High Nature Value - HNV), these are compensated for by the high uptake resulting from the simplicity.

Simple application process: one page in the IACS that only needs some boxes to be ticked and a signature.

Ministry has very good working relationship with practical NGOs who know what the Ministry needs for the new measures (good justification, clear criteria, clear monitoring).

The future

Romanian Ministry values agri-environment payments as efficient, in terms of uptake (budget expenditure) and because they effectively support Romania’s exceptional HNV farmed landscapes.

Fundatia ADEPT is working on 2 new measures with the Ministry, to be introduced for 2013 applications

Romanian Ministry hopes to increase the Pillar 2 percentage for agri-environment payments above the current 25%, in period 2014-2020.

Related Projects

RBAPS - Results-Based Payments for Biodiversity: A New Pilot Agri-Environment Scheme for the Tarnava Mare and Pogány Havas Regions

A “results-based” agri-environment scheme which is targeted at High Nature Value hay meadows, rewarding practical management that produces good quality hay and protects wild species.
Funded by:DG Environment
Project Duration: 2016 - 2019 (3 years)

Ecosystem Services

Conservation of such landscapes can also be promoted through proper valuation and recompense for ecosystem services. An important element for the future economic viability of the area is the proper evaluation of ecosystem services, and compensatory payments to farmers and landowners where suitable in recognition of the broader environmental benefits that they provide by good land management.

Ecosystem services are goods and services of nature which humans utilise for themselves. The food we eat, the clean water we drink, fuel, fibre, but also the formation of soil, the natural decomposition of waste or the maintaining of a stable climate on earth are all ecosystem services.

Related Projects

Rural Development and High Nature Value Farmlands in Romania

Improved economic viability of local livelihoods from HNV farmlands in Romania and conservation of agri-environmental benefits.
Funded by: the Swiss-Romanian Cooperation Programme
Project Duration: 2013 - 2016 (3 years)

Ecosystem Services from High Nature Value farmland - Green industry - Romania

Environmental friendly and profitable farmer’s production in five local communities in the Transylvanian region by combining traditional land management and ecosystem services.
Funded by: a grant from Norway through the Norway Grants 2009-2014, in the frame of Green Industry Innovation Programme Romania
Project Duration: 2012 - 2014 (2 years)

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.

Related Projects

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

Studies necessary to justify protection for Târnava Mare site.
Funded by: UK Darwin Initiative
Project Duration: 2004 - 2007 (4 years)

Our Partners

Biodiversity conservation and community development in Transylvania
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