Transylvanian Highlands Eco destination includes protected areas of national interest but also protected areas that are part of European Natura 2000 network since 2007. Natura 2000 is the largest ecological network in the world, with over 25,000 sites, of which 531 in Romania - 7 of them in Transylvanian Highlands. The large number of important natural sites make our eco destination the second largest protected area in the country, after the Danube Delta Biosphere Reservation, with a total of 267,438 ha. It is home to a population of about 90,000 inhabitants, distributed in 44 municipalities and 3 counties (Sibiu, Mureș and Brașov).
The protected areas in the Transylvanian Highlands are as follows:
Natura 2000 sites: Hârtibaciului Plateau, Sighişoara Târnava Mare, The Oak Forest from Dosul Fânațului, The Oak Forest on Dealu Purcăretul, Oltul Mijlociu – Cibin - Hârtibaciu, Hârtibaciu de Sud Est and Hârtibaciu de Sud Est and Hârtibaciu de Sud Est.
Protected areas of national interest: The Nature Reserve “Secular oak trees from Breite Sighişoara Municipality”, Fluffy oak reservation from Daneş (15 km from Sighişoara), “Mihăileni canyon” - a monument of nature, located between Mihăileni and Șalcău villages (25 km from Mediaş and Sibiu) (also known locally as "Râpa lui Brod")
Studies show that the area includes many species of fauna and flora, which are nationally and internationally threatened: flora (angelica or wild celery, arnica, lady's slipper wild orchid, daffodils and small pasque flowers), fauna - mammals (wolf, bear, wild cat, otter), birds (Eurasian sparrow hawk, Northern goshawk, corncrake), reptile and amphibian species (Fire-Bellied Toad), protected species of fish and butterflies.
Transylvanian Highlands still have a unique, almost extinct mosaic landscape.
Hills with heights of 500 - 800 m (Dumbrava Forest - 642 m, Pietriş Hill – 839 m), with valleys accompanied by terraces and meadows, small villages with Saxon houses, fortresses and fortified evangelical churches, some of them part of the UNESCO heritage. The traditional methods of grazing and working the hay have led to the development of pastures, which cover most of this area. The meadows rich in all kinds of species contain a mixture of steppe, Mediterranean and Carpathian flora. Wildflower grasslands are also a genetic resource for the future selection of forage crops, especially alfalfa or lucerne, clover and other vegetables.
Transylvania, especially the area within the Transylvanian Highlands, is unique in Europe, with a valuable natural and cultural heritage that we must preserve together.
How to visit: The Natura 2000 protected areas are best discovered on foot, by horseback or by bicycle, on the marked routes that starts from each village.
There is no visit fee - for guided tours, look for Guides or local agencies.
Photo Credit: Florentina Florescu, Cătălin Fuciu