STIPA - Tarnava Mare SCI: Saving Transylvania's Important Pastoral Ecosystems

LIFE09 NAT/RO/000618

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Contact details:

Contact person: Cristian GHERGHICEANU
Tel: +40265 711635
Fax: +40365 814076

Project description:


The Sighisoara-Tarnava Mare Natura 2000 site covers 85 374 ha of one of the largest lowland areas of high-nature-value farmland in the EU. Following the collapse of the traditional rural economy, cattle grazing in particular was greatly reduced on around 1 000 ha of these habitats, with the less accessible grassland abandoned altogether. In addition, areas that are grazed by sheep are badly managed. As a result, scrubland has spread into former grassland areas and pastures have degraded, threatening several European priority habitats to the point of their disappearance.


The STIPA project aimed to improve the conservation status of two priority dry grassland habitats in the Sighisoara -Tarnava Mare SCI: semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometalia) with important orchid sites, and sub-Pannonic steppic grasslands. Both of these habitats are included in Annex I of the Habitats Directive. The project aimed to create conservation action plans for the two habitats, by establishing a priority zone in the area and five micro-reserves in certain hotspots that include simple and practical management agreements with land owners. It was also foreseen to include payments for certain private owners where necessary. The project would moreover support local communities to ensure that they continue or revert to traditional grassland management. To encourage long-term habitat conservation, the project aimed to contribute to the development of an integrated management plan for the broader combined SPA/SCI and to the design of national and regional agri-environment schemes for 2013-2019.


The project achieved its overall objectives, though these objectives were adjusted during the project. After thorough and innovative mapping of the project area, the beneficiary found that the targeted habitats cover only slightly over half of the initially estimated area. The priority habitats covered a total of 5 895 hectares. As a result, targets were adjusted, while still addressing around 80% of the previously targeted habitats. The project applied three methods of habitat restoration: clearing of scrub with the Brielmeier mower, clearing of invasive species at sheepfolds and improving grazing management over a large sheep grazing area. In total, payments were made for the restoration of 327.72 ha. This contributed to the creation of six micro-reserves in the area, four of which are located at biodiversity hotspots. (Eight information panels were erected in Romanian and English)

The locations where dry grassland habitats occur were further assessed, and a conservation action plan for the two specific habitat types was developed. These plans also considered other significant habitats that form a fine mosaic of species in the area, adding to its natural value. The participatory process of drawing up this plan raised the awareness of local communities and farmers of the value of these habitats and what they need to do to preserve them. Furthermore, many school activities were held in all the eight communes of the project area, and educational materials about the dry grasslands were published to be further used by local teachers.

One of the main outcomes of the project was the development of good relations with the local population through networking. A large number of meetings with landowners and local administrations and associations were held, and the beneficiary became involved in the Local Action Group. More than a thousand local people were reached through meetings and workshops about the value and management of dry grasslands. A range of publications and information materials (such as newsletters) were distributed. In addition, a modern Brielmeier mower was purchased and demonstrations staged in the project area to show farmers how the equipment can be used to better protect dry grassland habitats during mowing. (28 demonstrations presented the mower to around 700 farmers and around 100 individual farm visits were carried out.)

Though media engagement was a low priority at the start of the project, its awareness campaign was ramped up towards the end. Two indicator species guides (one for flowers and one for butterflies) and one brochure presenting the two targeted habitats were produced. In total, 6 000 copies of these publications (in Romanian and English) were distributed in the area and elsewhere in Europe. The beneficiary’s approach was also to communicate the overall approach to nature protection rather than the specific aims and results of the project. The website, which wasn’t regularly updated after a while, attracted only a low number of visitors. Record keeping could also have been improved and some timeframes for actions were over ambitious.

The beneficiary has drawn up a new agri-environmental package that was already being implemented during the project’s duration. It also managed to include a few important amendments to existing agri-environmental schemes. The project led to an increase in the value of dry grasslands that are already part of an agri-environmental scheme or that are able to enter agri-environmental measures in Romania, and owners/administrators can receive such payments for these lands. As a result of the project, more local farmers have entered agri-environmental agreements, and around 7500 hectares of land are now included in such schemes. Moreover, conservation actions also contribute to an increase in the productivity of these lands and thus an increase in the quality of associated products (mainly dairy).

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Conservation Plan (see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Habitats - Grasslands


agricultural method‚  grassland ecosystem‚  grazing‚  restoration measure‚  management contract

Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directiv ...

Target Habitat types

  • 6210 - Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometalia) (* important orchid sites)
  • 6240 - Sub-Pannonic steppic grasslands

Natura 2000 sites

SCI ROSCI0227 Sighişoara - Târnava Mare



Coordinator Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
Type of organisation NGO-Foundation
Description The ADEPT Foundation is a non-profit organisation working to conserve the biodiversity of the manmade landscapes of Transylvania.
Partners None


Project reference LIFE09 NAT/RO/000618
Duration 01-OCT-2010 to 30-SEP -2013
Total budget 356,330.00 €
EU contribution 259,515.00 €
Project location Associated Romania(Romania)


Read more:

Newsletter "Natură şi Prosperitate într-un peisaj istoric: Nu ...
Newsletter "Natura si Prosperitate într-un peisaj istoric: Nu ...
Newsletter "Natura si Prosperitate într-un peisaj istoric: Nu ...
Newsletter "Prosperitate prin protejarea biodiversităţii: Num ...
Newsletter "Natură şi Prosperitate într-un peisaj istoric: Nu ...
Newsletter "Natura si Prosperitate într-un peisaj istoric: Nu ...
Poster "STIPA – Protejati pajistile importante din Transi ...
Project web site Project's website
Publication Title: "The LIFE project STIPA: Saving Transylvania’s important pastoral agroecosystems (Romania)" in Henryk Baumbach & Stefan Pfützenreuter : "Steppenlebensräume Europas - Gefährdung, Erhaltungsmassnahmen und Schutz" p341-350. Author: John Akeroyd, Laura Sutcliffe, Razvan Popa & Nat P Year: 2013 Editor: Thüringer Ministerium für Landwirtschaft, Forsten, No of pages: 17
Publication: After-LIFE Conservation Plan After-LIFE Conservation Plan
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Proceedings "High Nature Value grasslands: Securing the ecosys ...


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version