Natural History

ADEPT The Târnava Mare area may be the largest area in lowland Europe with extensive tracts of ancient landscape, intact villages and associated traditional agriculture.

Both fauna and flora are outstanding. The area possesses not only Europe’s most extensive non-alpine hay-meadows, with an astonishing diversity of wildflowers, but also the continent’s last lowland bears and wolves.

Scientists confirmed that some dry grassland types in the area have the highest species diversity recorded in any plant community worldwide and remarked the outstanding extent, diversity, and conservation status of the grasslands compared to European standards. These communities represent an impressive and highly valuable part of Europe’s natural heritage that need stronger conservation efforts, in particular as many of them are threatened by land use changes. Landscape-scale conservation of the Târnava Mare area is required to prevent fragmentation of the extensive, rich, inter-dependent habitats. 

Flora

Author Dr John Akeroyd

Woodland: hornbeam and oak, with some beech, dominate the woodlands. On dry southfacing slopes there are also a few woods of the rarer Downy Oak. These have an interesting ground flora, including several steppic species. Cornelian Cherry, a small tree of dry slopes, provides both a valued autumn fruit and the hard heavy wood of the traditional long sticks carried by shepherds.

Grassland: the abundant wildflower-rich meadows and pastures provide one of the greatest floral spectacles in Europe. The meadows are still mostly mown by scythe, giving hay for winter feed for the livestock. Plants characteristic of central Europe mingle with those more typical of Eurasian steppic or Mediterranean regions – this is known as meadow-steppe.  

All of these grasslands are colourful from May onwards, when several orchids flower, for example Military Orchid, Green- winged Orchid and Three-toothed Orchid. Cowslips flower in massed profusion. On the steepest and driest slopes is a distinguished group of early flowers: Yellow Adonis, Leafless Iris, Montpellier Milk-vetch, Purple Mullein, Purple Vipers-grass and the first of the wild sages. By June the grasslands present a superb spectacle. The mix of colours derives from high species diversity, notably the varied suite of clovers, vetches, knapweeds and daisies. From a distance the massed cream heads of Dropwort, loose pink spikes of Sainfoin and blue splashes of Meadow Clary are particularly distinctive. At closer quarters the pale pink of Squinancywort, the yellow of Ladys Bedstraw and long-stalked crimson-and-bronze heads of Charterhouse Pink, are conspicuous. Extensive areas are pale yellow with Hay-rattle.

Through July the grasslands remain colourful, with splashes of blue Creeping Bellflower and Spiked Speedwell, purplish-pink knapweeds and Zigzag Clover, yellow Ladys Bedstraw and Agrimony, white Wild Carrot, and conspicuous clumps of two umbellifers, greenish-cream Field Eryngo and yellow Longleaf. In August, Wild Carrot colours many places white.

In September, a new group of flowers appears, for example blue Fringed Gentian on dry slopes. The most conspicuous early autumn flower is Meadow Saffron or Autumn Crocus, splashing slightly damp meadows with great patches of lilac. These often grow where orchids and cowslips flower in spring. By early October, while there are still a few flowers to be seen, autumn tints of the woods and scrub replace the summer colour.

Medicinal plants are plentiful and widely used in everyday life. St Johns-wort is widely gathered to treat stomach upsets and diarrhoea; Yarrow or Milfoil to treat "the heart"; Sweet Flag treats digestive disorders and sore throats; Ladys Mantle treats diarrhoea; Centaury, a small pink-flowered gentian, once a popular medicinal herb in England and mentioned by Geoffrey Chaucer, is used as a general tonic and a stimulant to digestion. Hawthorn is gathered to alleviate high blood pressure and circulatory problems, Sage species as a general tonic and antiseptic. Small-leaved Lime is a herbal tonic, drunk as a tea. Heath Speedwell is a general tonic. Mistletoe lowers blood pressure and has anti-cancer properties.

Related Publications

Fundatia ADEPT has been prepared several booklets in order to raise local awareness of the importance of the dry grassland habitats and associated indicator species, and to enable farmers and local schools to participate in monitoring of indicator species.

Related Projects

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)

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)

Operation Wallacea

In 2013, Fundația ADEPT began a long term partnership with operation Wallacea. OpWall carries out a worldwide programme in which schoolchildren and university students gather information about the changes in and threats to globally important areas of biodiversity. Târnava Mare is the chosen European hotspot.
Funded by: Opwall Trust
Project Duration: 2013 - 2019 (6 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)

Vertebrate Fauna

Mammals
The area has some of the last remaining lowland populations of Wolf and Brown Bear to survive in Europe, as well as wild boar, Red Deer and the elusive Wild Cat. Roe Deer and Brown Hare are common. There are 12 bat species in the area, two of which are protected at European level.  

Birds - author Milvus Group
The broadleaved woods are home to many songbirds: common species such as Robin, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Nuthatch and Chaffinch, and more unusual birds such as Collared Flycatcher or Tree-creeper. In mature woodland one can see Stock Dove and many woodpeckers, including Greater Spotted, Middle Spotted, Green, Grey-headed, Lesser Spotted and Black Woodpecker. In daytime one may see the Ural Owl leave its roosting place; at night-time can be heard the churring song of Nightjar and the call of the Tawny Owl.  

In meadows with sparse scrub Woodlarks breed. Skylarks sing over the meadows and pastures. Scrub offers nesting places for Red-backed Shrike, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer and Thrush Nightingale, whose pleasant melodic song can be heard night and day in early summer. Stonechat and Whinchat are characteristic of the grasslands.  

From the end of May, the repeated rasping notes of Corncrake – a globally threatened species – can be heard in damper meadows. Quail can be heard even on the margins of cereal fields. Among birds of prey, you can frequently see the Common Buzzard and the Honey Buzzard, but note, this area has one of the highest densities of nesting pairs of Lesser-spotted Eagle in Europe. You may also see the Short-toed Eagle hunting reptiles.  

Wood-pasture serves is a habitat for birds such as Hobby and Kestrel, and Scops Owl whose metronomic bell-like note can be heard on May and June nights and which nests in the hollows of older trees, as does the Hoopoe. Among characteristic songbirds of this habitat are Tree Pipit, Woodlark and the magnificent Golden Oriole. Avenues of trees planted along roads offer nesting sites for Kestrel and Hobby; also here one can see Lesser Grey and Great Grey Shrike, important protected birds of the area. Another striking bird of warm days is the colourful Beeeater, which nests in colonies in clay and sand cliffs.

Related Publications

Brief Guide to Birds of Sighişoara - Târnava Mare

This publication presents an overview of avifauna of the Sighișoara-Târnava Mare area,  the factors that threaten the populations of nesting, migratory and wintering species of birds; and general protection measures which should be taken.
In the second part we have selected some representative species that every visitor has the chance to see; many are locally common but rare elsewhere in Europe. With this guide we hope to provide theopportunity for interested visitors to make acquaintance with the rich avifauna of the area.

Related Projects

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)

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)

Butterflies and moths

Author Prof Laszlo Rakosy
This is a spectacular area for butterflies. Of the 650 species of butterflies and moths in the area, over 200 are threatened and 12 protected under the EU Habitats Directive.  

In pastureland, Silver-studded Blue is frequent; in this species the males are blue and the females brown. But the greatest number of species is found in hay-meadows, and especially in the margins between meadow and scrub. “Fire butterflies” prefer yellow or white flowers as sources of nectar. In the damp meadows along streams and rivers Large Copper, a protected species, frequently occurs. Scarce Large Blue is found in July, feeding from the nectar of the cherry-coloured flowers of Greater Burnet in damp meadows. Other important species include Pallass Fritillary, Marbled Fritillary, Scarce Fritillary and Marsh Fritillary.

In woodland glades Clouded Apollo, rare and threatened in Central Europe, is common. In lighter parts of woods and in hazel scrub one finds the elegant and unmistakable Woodland Brown, strictly protected. Hawthorn and blackthorn bushes make up the larval diet of the handsome Scarce Swallowtail.

The woods also contain many species of moth, including Oak Hawkmoth, as well as many species of underwing. Among False Acacia trees is often found Common Glider, a rare species protected in central Europe.

Related Publications

Brief Guide to the Butterflies and Moths of the Sighisoara-Tarnava Mare area.
This fascinating 62-page guide is written by Laslo Rakosy, one of Europe’s leading lepidoptera specialists. The booklet links the butterfly and moth species of the area to their grassland, forest and riparian habitats. The booklet is illustrated with over 100 colour photographs by the author.
If you are interested to order a copy click here

Indicator butterfly and moths of the High Nature Value dry grasslands of Transylvania
Fundatia ADEPT has been prepared the booklet under the STIPA project in order to raise local awareness of the importance of the dry grassland habitats and associated indicator species, and to enable farmers and local schools to participate in monitoring of indicator species.

Related Projects

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)

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)

Flora: threatened and near - threatened species

  • 10 plant taxa threatened in Europe, included in the Annexes of the EU Habitats Directive and the Bern Convention (including Polish Larch, Angelica, Arnica, Lady’s Slipper Orchid, Red Viper’s Bugloss, Pheasant’s Eye Narcissus and Meadow Pasque Flower).

  • 77 plant taxa threatened at the national level, included in the Romanian Red List.

  • globally significant agricultural biodiversity, in the form of wild relatives of crop plants and animal breeds. Over 50 wild plants native to the region are related to cultivated plants and constitute a potential resource for plant breeding. Local land-races of forage legumes in particular, such as sainfoin and clover sub-species, remain an important element of agro-biodiversity.
  •  

Related Publications

Fundatia ADEPT has been prepared several booklets in order to raise local awareness of the importance of the dry grassland habitats and associated indicator species, and to enable farmers and local schools to participate in monitoring of indicator species.

Related Projects

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)

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)

Fauna: threatened and near - threatened species

of the 600 species of butterfly and moth recorded in the area, 6 are protected under the EU Habitats Directive and the Bern Convention (including Eriogaster catax, Euphydrias maturna, Lopinga achine, Callimorpha quadripunctaria, Proserpinus proserpina, Maculinea teleius, Lycaena dispar), and 22 threatened at the national level.

23 mammal species threatened in Europe and protected under the EU Habitats Directive and the Berne Convention, including wolf, bear, wild cat, otter, water shrew, bicoloured shrew, fat dormouse, common dormouse and several bat species

55 bird species threatened in Europe, included in the EU Wild Birds Directive, including the sparrow-hawk, goshawk, corncrake and ferruginous duck, and 76 species protected at national level

10 reptile and amphibian species protected under the EU Habitats Directive and the Berne Convention (including the fire-bellied toad)

11 fish species protected under the EU Habitats Directive and the Bern Convention

Related Publications

Brief Guide to the Butterflies and Moths of the Sighisoara-Tarnava Mare area.
This fascinating 62-page guide is written by Laslo Rakosy, one of Europe’s leading lepidoptera specialists. The booklet links the butterfly and moth species of the area to their grassland, forest and riparian habitats. The booklet is illustrated with over 100 colour photographs by the author.
If you are interested to order a copy click here

Indicator butterfly and moths of the High Nature Value dry grasslands of Transylvania
Fundatia ADEPT has been prepared the booklet under the STIPA project in order to raise local awareness of the importance of the dry grassland habitats and associated indicator species, and to enable farmers and local schools to participate in monitoring of indicator species.
If you are interested to order a copy click here

Brief Guide to Birds of Sighişoara - Târnava Mare
This publication presents an overview of avifauna of the Sighișoara-Târnava Mare area,  the factors that threaten the populations of nesting, migratory and wintering species of birds; and general protection measures which should be taken.
In the second part we have selected some representative species that every visitor has the chance to see; many are locally common but rare elsewhere in Europe. With this guide we hope to provide theopportunity for interested visitors to make acquaintance with the rich avifauna of the area.

Related Projects

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)

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)

EU Habitats Directive priority habitat

The area is dominated by EU Habitats Directive Annex I and Annex 1* priority habitats, the main ones being:
40A0* Sub-continental Peripannonic scrub
6210* Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometalia) with important orchid sites
6240* Sub-Pannonic steppic grasslands
62C0* Ponto-Sarmatic steppes
6510 Lowland hay meadows (A. pratensis, S. officinalis)
6520 Mountain hay meadows
9130 Asperulo-Fagetum beech forests
9170 Galio-Carpinetum oak-hornbeam forest
91G0* Pannonic woods with Quercus petraea and Carpinus betulus
91H0* Pannonian woods with Quercus pubescens
91V0 Dacian Beech forests (Symphyto-Fagion)

The Târnava Mare landscape is home to numerous EU Habitats Directive Annex II, II* and IV fauna and flora species, and over 40 Birds Directive Annex I species of which 4 are Ornis priority species.

Related Publications

Fundatia ADEPT has been prepared several booklets in order to raise local awareness of the importance of the dry grassland habitats and associated indicator species, and to enable farmers and local schools to participate in monitoring of indicator species.

Related Publications

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)

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)

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)

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