|Pogány-havas, Romania – Livestock and Meadows
The Pogány-havas region extends from the valley of the Csík (Ciuc) Basin and out to the eastern edge of Transylvania, and into the Gyimes (Ghimes) Valley. The Csík Basin (215 km2) has a wide, open landscape surrounded by mountains, while Gyimes (232 km2) is a mountain area with deep and narrow valleys. Between them lies Pogány-havas (Pagan Snow Cap), the region’s namesake mountain.
In Csík, pastures and forests are managed on behalf of the village shareholders by communal organisations. Cows are grazed on the village pastures in a common herd and milked at home. Arable crops are also grown. In Gyimes, the land is steeper and livestock rearing is the main agricultural activity. There is some common land, but for the most part, smallholders own and manage their own parcels of pasture and forest. Here in the summer months, cows are taken to graze the high pastures, returning to the village in autumn. In both regions, hay meadows are owned and managed by individual families, creating a mosaic of habitats mown and manured at different times and in different ways – an ideal management system for supporting diversity.
A long list of species, habitats and landscape features make the area unique in terms of nature and wildlife. The Csík Basin is home to species typical of wetlands and fens. Temporary ponds are inhabited by the spectacular large branchiopods, a ’living fossil’ crustacean group. The wet meadows and shallow waters are good habitats for amphibians, like the common frog and great crested newt. There are important corncrake populations, and the white stork also nests in high densities.The Gyimes Valley provides space for many rare species, such as brown bears, reliant on forests and grasslands, especially species-rich mountain hay meadows. Orchids and rare mountain flowers abound here. Typical birds include three species of eagle and eight species of woodpecker.
As in the rest of Transylvania, farm holdings are small. A survey of two case study areas found that some families have an additional source of income, but most people describe themselves as retired or without another job. On average, agricultural activity has declined. In the past 10 years, decreases of 10% in cow keeping and 20% in hay meadows have been recorded in the areas surveyed (although this disguises large local variations). The main reason for giving up farming was that the products made no profit or had no market at all. Many people were uncertain about their farm’s future, although just over half believed they had a successor to take over.
BirdLife CAP reform position
Trees Robijns, trees.robijns(at)birdlife.org
Only farmers owning more than 1 ha of land in parcels of more than 0.3 ha are eligible for CAP support, and in Gyimes 45% are smaller than this, with 20% in Csík excluded from any kind of support. While
agri-environment aims to maintain the environmental value of the area, the measures introduced have in some cases been counter-productive. For example, the setting of a single mowing date reduces the mosaic pattern of long and short grass on which many species thrive. Local projects have been important for maintaining HNV farming in the area. For example, the Pogány-havas Microregion Association supported by local councils, NGOs and entrepreneurs works on a range of projects to increase local incomes, preserve the region’s cultural heritage, and record and conserve the natural environment.