Introduction and Acknowledgements

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Editor: Barbara Knowles
Publisher: Society of Biology, London
ISBN: 978-0-900490-40-8

Copyright: Pogány-havas Association 2011

This publication presents a selection of papers from the conference "Mountain hay meadows – hotspots of biodiversity and traditional culture" held on 7-9 June 2010 in Boros Valley, Transylvania, Romania. The conference was part of a project of the same name. The project had a dual goal: to carry out biological research on mountain hay meadows in two contrasting sites in the Eastern Carpathians; and to help local farmers to carry on traditional small scale agriculture. We also used our project and the conference to celebrate and promote the International Year of Biodiversity 2010.

Papers in this volume are grouped into two themes, reflecting the dual focus of the project:
-Biodiversity, landscape and traditional knowledge
-Social science, economics and rural development relating to hay meadow management and products.

In the first paper, Knowles sets the scene with an overview of Romanian agriculture in the European context.

The next group of papers, by Demeter and colleagues, describe their wide-ranging work to explore the biodiversity of the Csík Basin (Depresiunea Ciucului) and Csík Mountains (Munții Ciucului) in the Eastern Carpathians of Romania. These papers comprise: an overview of the natural treasures of the region (Demeter, Csergő, Sándor, Imecs and Vizauer), a proposal to create a Natura 2000 site (Csergő, Demeter, Molnár and Jakab), and papers describing the special plant life (Csergő and Demeter), large branchiopods of seasonal ponds (Demeter and Péter), and amphibians of this region (Demeter and Kelemen).

Huband and McCracken use a case study of a village in the Bucegi Mountains, southern Carpathians, to describe how the diversity and associated high nature conservation value of hay meadow habitats is a result of subtle variations in the low-intensity management of a large number of meadow parcels.

Sutcliffe and Larkham identify a list of plant indicator species that can be used to monitor the quality of lowland grassland under agri-environment schemes, based on a study region in Southern Transylvania.

The social and economic situation and history of the Carpathian mountains offers good opportunities for research. Nuppenau, Waldhardt and Solovyeva describe a proposed interdisciplinary project to investigate future options for the region's development and biodiversity conservation.

Biró, Demeter and Knowles outline the results of a survey of farmers which reveals their activities in and opinions about hay meadow managment and traditional agricultural methods. Agri-environment payments form an increasingly important financial support mechanism for farmers in mountain areas in Europe. Péter considers whether these payments have real benefits for HNV grasslands in practice. And Sólyom explains the use of local subsidies and grants available to farmers in the Odorhei region of Romania.

The final two papers are case studies from two non-governmental organisations whose projects link agriculture, environment and rural development in Transylvania. Page and colleagues describe the work of Fundaţia ADEPT to bring real benefits for local people from protecting their landscape in a region inhabited since mediaeval times by an ethnic German group known as the Saxons. Rodics and Knowles offer an overview of projects with a similar objective but in an ethnic Hungarian region of Transylvania: supporting agriculture, tradition and ecosystems in the Pogány-havas Region.

The conference presentations, abstract booklet and details of the mountain hay meadows project can be found at www.mountainhaymeadows.eu

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the views of the organizations mentioned, the Global Environment Facility or the United Nations Development Programme. The publication was made in the framework of the project Mountain Hay Meadows - hot spots of biodiversity and traditional culture. The project is financed by the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) the Barbara Knowles Fund, and the European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism with funding from the European Commission (DG Environment). The project was implemented by the Pogány-havas Association.

We are grateful to the Society of Biology for publishing this volume.

Copyright Pogány-havas Association 2011