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Biodiversity conservation and community development in Transylvania
Conservarea biodiversităţii şi dezvoltare comunitară în Transilvania

Habitats, flora and fauna

Some of the highest recorded plant species diversity in the world

In July 2009 Dr Jurgen Dengler, one of the founders of the European Dry Grassland Group, carried out field work in Transylvania including a few days in the ADEPT project area where he worked with ADEPT Foundation grassland specialists Dr Andrew Jones and Dr John Akeroyd and two young Romanian botanists Monica Beldean and Dan Tutureanu of Cluj University.
Dr Dengler concluded that some dry grassland types he studied on this trip may have the highest species diversity recorded in any plant community worldwide.

As part of a study visit to Cluj, Mures and Brasov areas, Dr Dengler met the British and Romanian grassland specialists working in the ADEPT project area, and carried out field work with them in some of the hotspots that they have identified. His visit confirmed the outstanding extent, diversity, and conservation status of the grasslands compared to European standards.

Dr Dengler mentioned the very high species richness in Transylvania compared to similar dry grassland types in Germany - including at some locations near Cluj what is possibly the highest ever species diversity recorded in any plant community worldwide for two spatial sampling scales, 0.1 m sq and 10 m sq.

Dr Dengler added that these communities represent an outstanding 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.

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 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. Threatened and near-threatened species so far identified include:

  • 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.  
  • 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
  • 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.


Biodiversity in the area

Flora and Fauna





Through the year in the Târnava Mare area

This link offers a photographic calendar of activities and flora of the area.

flora image



Further reading

Akeroyd, J. R. & Page, N. (2006) The Saxon Villages of Southern Transylvania: Conserving Biodiversity in a Historic Landscape. In Gafta, D. & Akeroyd, J.[R.], Eds (2006) Nature Conservation: Concepts And Practice, pp. 199–210. Springer Verlag, Heidelburg, Germany.

Curtean-Bănăduc, A., Bănăduc, B., I., Eds (2007) Transylvanian Review of Systematical and Ecological Research, 4 – The Saxon Villages Region of southeast Transylvania, 216 pages, Editura Universităţii „Lucian Blaga” Sibiu, ISSN 1841­­-7051.

See also references for further reading on the area.
Sponsorul Oficial - Fundația Orange România