Nature Conservation

Part of the series Environmental Science and Engineering pp 199-210

The Saxon Villages Of Southern Transylvania: Conserving Biodiversity in a Historic Landscape

  • John R. AkeroydAffiliated withPlant Talk, Lawn Cottage
  • , Nat PageAffiliated withADEPT

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The landscape and biodiversity of the Saxon villages of southern Transylvania comprise a remarkable fragment of an older Europe, where species-rich plant and animal communities thrive alongside traditional agriculture. Not only are the wildflower meadows, probably the best that survive in lowland Europe, a living link with medieval times, but they are also a genetic resource of forage crops, especially legumes. Within Romania, many of the plants, animals and habitats of the region are not particularly rare or threatened, but from a European perspective their survival in such substantial numbers and extent considerably alleviates their loss elsewhere. Rarity may not always be the best criterion for assessing conservation needs, and a holistic approach is required to conserve this ecosystem in its geographical, cultural and biological entirety. To this end, a consortium of conservation NGOs, in conjunction with the Government of Romania, is working towards the establishment of a Nature Park or similar protected area to conserve traditional villages, countryside and biodiversity. Organic and non-intensive mixed farming, eco-tourism and promotion of village crafts and skills are vital components of the complex jigsaw of sustainable development.