The wood-pastures of Romania in Transylvania:

ecology, agricultural perspectives and sustainable integration in the development of the cultural landscape

Wood-pastures are meadows dotted with shrubs and trees, used mainly for grazing and are key elements of Europe’s ecological / natural and cultural identity. There are dozens of species of plants and animals that have evolved into ecosystem dynamics present in wood-pasture systems.  The latest scientific articles published in specialized journals in the fields of forestry, ecology, agronomy and spatial planning show the importance of wood-pasture ecosystems in reconciling production, nature protection and social needs to reconnect with nature and activities in nature.

Unfortunately, wood-pastures, although resilient for thousands of years, have deteriorated dramatically and disappeared in large parts of Europe in just a few decades (19th and 20th centuries). The reasons for their degradation and disappearance are diverse and include a combination of the lack recognition by policies / laws governing forestry, agronomy and nature protection, economic causes (low economic profitability in monetary sense compared to intensive, mechanized agriculture) and socio-cultural (demographic and value changes in rural areas). Scientists in various fields are beginning to draw attention to the need for formal recognition and maintenance of wood-pastures – the reasons being related to the substantial contribution of wood-pastures to the resilience of production ecosystems and thus to social stability. Wood-pastures are about to be rediscovered for their option values for the society, but also for their role in social and ecological sustainability.

The highest number and best preserved wood-pastures from Central and Eastern Europe are in Romania. Also here are the pastures with the highest density of thick, old trees. In recent years, the number of specialists coming from Western (UK, Germany) and Northern (e.g. Sweden) Europe to understand these systems and learn as much as possible about them in order to re-establish silvopastoral systems (in largest sense: agroforestry systems) in their country or on the lands managed by them. Wood-pastures are gaining popularity in Romania for their old trees, for their beautiful appearance and for the diversity of economic and cultural options represented by them.  The future of Wood-pastures will depend on the one hand on policies and on the other hand on the value system, socio-economic aspirations and existing intent at the level of the local communities that own these pastures.

Within the project “Romania’s wood-pastures in Transylvania: ecology, agricultural perspectives and sustainable integration in the cultural landscape development” the goals are the following:

✔️ creating an inventory of the wood-pastures in the Transylvania region comprising the description from a cultural-ecological perspective as well as the selective re-evaluation;

✔️ inventory and analysis of local initiatives that are related to wood-pastures to understand social innovation and related wood-pasture sustainable and bioeconomical opportunities;

✔️ elaboration of publications about the values ​​of wood-pastures and where good practices or sustainable wood-pasture management are synthesized – based on informations collected by our team in the field and from the scientific literature;

The main coordinator of the project is Ifas Insitute from Trier University of Applied Sciences, Germany. On behalf of Babeș-Bolyai University, the project will be led by Associate Professor Dr. Tibor Hartel from the Faculty of Environmental Science and Engineering.

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