Project

Ecological restoration of a Transylvanian (Romania) pasture

Numerous studies about Transylvanian wood pastures have shown that they are more valuable habitats, both ecologically and socio-culturally, than mere woodless pastures. Recently, these wood pastures, which are typical for the Transylvanian landscape, have largely disappeared or transformed into simple grazing and agricultural lands, mostly due to human interventions.

The disappearance of such and similar landscapes leads to a decline in the diversity of nature. With the disappearance of trees, the diversity of a pasture is greatly diminished/reduced, as trees, with their roots, canopy and shade, create new micro-ecosystems. At the same time, the mosaic character of the landscape disappears, which again leads to decrease in the number of species.

Trees typically cool their immediate environment by a few degrees, this way they also change the microclimate of the area on a smaller scale. Furthermore the soil composition of wood pastures is different from that of woodless areas, as microorganisms living with trees continuously release minerals and other nutrients accumulating in the soil over centuries., Soil erosion is also reduced due to the presence of the deep rooted trees which also provide shade for farm animals.

Given that wood pastures habitat, which are almost unique in their size and number to Transylvania, can serve as an ideal destination for nature explorers, hikers or cyclists alike, and provide scientific opportunities for researchers, there is a great deal of interest in them, both scientifically and in terms of tourism. At the same time, the existence of such wood pastures is climate- and environmental friendly, consequently are supported by European regulations.

Furthermore, old trees can serve as an excellent raw material for afforestation in other areas, as their centuries-old survival proves that they have a gene pool that can withstand both natural and anthropological influences that have emerged over the centuries.

Our association aims to improve the ecological value of the area owned by the Hodoșa Public Estate, in Transylvania (Romania) by creating a wood pasture of about 200 hectares.

Workplan

In the initial phase of the project, in October 2020, after the end of the vegetation period, we  planted 500 sessile oaks (Quercus petraea) on an area of 20 hectares of pasture in Hodoșa, Romania. This means that we planted 25 seedlings per hectare, thus strictly complying with the regulations of the Agricultural Intervention and Payment Agency (APIA) for pastures. The oaks are protected by a treeshelters, both from wildlife and grazing farm animals. To increase the chances of seedling survival, globe seedlings was planted, which also allows for autumn planting. Their development will be examined several times a year for a minimum of 6 years, watered in the event of drought and, if necessary, replacing the dead seedlings. These restoration works will preserve the grazing character of the area, and at the same time will increase its resilience, establishing a mosaic landscape and creating a richer, more beautiful habitat for both people and nature.

In addition to monitoring, we plan to carry out restoration work on a minimum of 50 additional hectares each year until the restoration of the entire 200-hectare area is completed with the planting of 5,000 sessile oaks in total.

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We would like to thank Transylmagica, for sponsoring the project!