15.12.2017 - Klára Kerpely
Why are invasive alien plants so dangerous?
Probably many people have asked that same question after reading on our website about what a huge task is for nature conservationists to control the invasive species.
The answer is quite complex, because the invasive alien species not only endanger the natural environment, but they also create economic problems and some of them can even pose a threat to human health. The most common example is the ragweed, in Hungary almost 2.5 to 3 million people are sensitive to its pollen. The fortunately less widespread giant hogweed is even more dangerous. Its toxin can be found on its leaf, stem, flower, root, shoot and seed, reaching the highest concentration in the hairs covering the stem. If the plant sap gets in contact with the skin and it is exposed to light it causes nasty wounds, ranging from a mild redness of the skin to a blistering filled with phlegm and can even result in blindness if it gets into the eyes.
The economic damage caused by the invasive plants is also significant. For example, the owners of floodplain pastures or meadows quickly realize, that if they do not reap or graze for one or two years they will only see an endless sea of false indigo-bush. In most of the floodplain forests farmers have to deal with the worthless ash-leaved maple and green ash, while in drier forests the spreading of the ailanthus or in other name the tree-of-heaven does a lot of harm. The attempts to exterminate an already spread species consume large amounts of money and the restoration of the liberated areas has a considerable cost as well.
The leaf, flower and fruit of the Boxelder of North-American origin (drawing by Márton Zsoldos)
Besides the destruction and fragmentation of the natural habitats the spreading of invasive species poses the greatest threat to the natural environment. This statement is confirmed by a survey made in 2016 among Hungarian rangers and biologists who tend to our protected areas. While in Europe the spreading of the invasive species ranks as the second most serious problem, the Hungarian survey shows that here the damage caused by biological invasions made it to the first place. The invasive species count as a serious problem in 97% of our protected areas.
One of the most fascinating results of the survey was about which species cause the biggest problem in each of our protected areas. From the first ten species eight had come from North-America. Every one of those ten species had arrived more than 100 years ago mostly as a result of deliberate introduction. This means they are not only successful because they colonize habitats in an incredibly aggressive way, but also because they had time to spread and even the people had assisted them in the beginning. However, the hoped benefit of the invasive species remained far below the amount of damage they have been causing with their unstoppable expansion.
Plant and animal species which are causing a problem in most of the protected areas in the country (based on data from 144 areas):
silver Prussian carp
The second, extended edition of the Rosalia 3. volume, which summarizes the practical experiences in invasive alien plant control, have been published. It can be downloaded from here in English: https://www.dunaipoly.hu/uploads/2018-01/20180124150851-rosalia-kezikony3-2nded-eng-net-compressed-tg7k48qu.pdf
2017.10.19. - Klára Kerpely
Cameras and microphones
We completed the closing media event of our six-year LIFE project attracting really high numbers of press and media representatives. After a short press conference we presented the achieved results on the field during a three-hour trip across the shooting range.
On the amphibious caterpillar of the army
Look closer, and you'll find loads of rare protected species (Photos: Máté Czabán)
10.10.2017 - Annamária Csóka
Where's the beetle?
We have completed our Hungarian ground beetle (Carabus hungaricus) research on the Táborfalva Shooting Range, which lasted for almost a week, day and night. In case of birds it is a standard method providing them with transmitters to learn more about their locomotion, and now technological advances have also made it possible to follow the representatives of the insect world using miniature transmitters and signal receivers.
Searching for specimen with the antenna receiver. Photo: Annamária Csóka
In Hungary this was the first time that anyone provided insects with transmitters, and there are only few examples of such research around the world. The results give answers to questions such as how long is the way, that these strictly protected beetles take, what kind of habitat they like, what time of the day they prefer, in which weather conditions are they active.
Carabus hungaricus with a transmitter. Photo: Ármin Csipak
We have to wait for the results to be evaluated, but preliminary data already show that junipers are not an impenetrable obstacle for the beetles. The sum of the distance traveled by one of the most active individuals in a week was 45.7 m, while the covered distance of "the laziest" was only 11.1 m.
05.10.2017 - Márton Árvay
Migration started for Örs, the short-toed snake eagle
This July staff members of the Duna-Ipoly National Park Diractorate, the Hortobágy National Park Diractorate and the STE Workgroup of Bird Life Hungary tagged a short-toed snake eagle chick, named Örs, which then began its migration route on 1 October 2017. In the following weeks the bird will likely follow the path of other birds of its species in the region through the Bosphorus, over the Suez Canal and hopefully arrive safely at the traditional wintering site in the Sahel region .
In Hungary there are not more than 50 breeding pairs of this rare bird of prey. They build their nests on various pine species (Pinus sylvestris, Pinus nigra) where they lay a single egg. Their prey usually consists of snakes and lizards.
The GPS-GSM logger funded by the Turjánvidék LIFE+ Nature project helps us to map the detailed migration route and can also give an insight into the hunting behaviour. These data can ensure the long term protection of this rare raptor species and could also reveal unknown threats.
Örs's migration route can be followed here:
Photos by Márton Árvay
07.04.2017 - György Verő
The ditches next to the roads, if they are full of water, provide shelter for several species of amphibia. On the first picture we can see a male smooth newt that was discovered in a ditch in Dabas town; on the second one there is a pete cord of a toad. In the past decades watery areas in the Hungarian Great Plain lessened, the number of shallow and small standing waters is less and less, which fact is unfavourable for the breeding of amphibia. In the frame of Turjánvidék LIFE Project, the active water supply system built in the Dabasi Turjános Nature Conservation Area helps these sensitive species in finding their ideal habitat and avoiding the danger that threatens their subsistence.
Photo: György Verő (thanks to the waterproof official camera)
28.03.2017 - György Verő
A real elite soldier from the Shooting Area
Runs fast, flies quickly, and smaller creatures are better to avoid him. Even taking photos was not successful until running him over (it was not me!). The name of tiger beetles needs no more questions.
Green tiger beetle, the Dabas part of the Táborfalva Shooting Area, photo: György Verő. (The dry plant-underlay is a trick, this specy likes bare ground, but the evening sun did not lighten that area.
You can see more details and more experiences from the Táborfalva Shooting Area and the treasure of the southern part of the county Pest in the Dél Pest Megyei Természet facebook group (in Hungarian).
27.03.2017 - György Verő
Spring is here! Nature wakes up on the range
Walking in the area, almost every day new attractions come up in front of my eyes. It has been almost two weeks since the storks of Dabas retured to their nest. A few days later, the residents of the big nest on the military base also arrived. The stork couple raised four chicks in here last year, they do not seem to be bothered by the proximity of military activities either.
Photo: György Verő
24.03.2017 - György Verő
Wonderful flowers for the kestrels
In the aim of helping the raptors to settle in here, we put special kestrel breeding boxes to the out-of-service parts of the Táborfalva Shooting Area with the assistance of 1000 Odú Egyesület (“1000 Burrows Association”). Meanwhile this, we succeeded in taking photos of blossoming small pasque flowers (Pulsatilla pratensis subsp. nigricans).
Photo: György Verő
The deep purple petals of the small pasque flower are covered by fluffy little hair, which gives this flower a very special outlook. It is a protected plant, its theoretical value is HUF 5,000.
25.01.2017 - György Verő
Raptors above the Turjánvidék
The annual Eagle Inventory is ready. It contains the observations of Duna-Ipoly National Park from Dabas and Tatárszentgyörgy: we saw a white-tale eagle couple, an eastern imperial eagle, some hen harriers, a northern goshawk, a kestrel and common buzzards on the freezing cold Sunday.
Montagu’s harrier - Photo: Péter Csonka
The Hungarian Ornithological and Nature Conservation Society organized the numeration of the raptors wintering in Hungary, which is also called “Eagle Inventory” or “Eagle Synchron”, for the 14th time. For more information about the Eagle Inventory please see the homepage of Helicon LIFE Project.
07.11.2016 - Klára Kerpely
Extended duration of Turjánvidék project
The European Commission has officially approved the extension of the LIFE project Turjánvidék in fifteen months, until 31 December 2017. Therefore more than a year of extra time is available to complete more conservation activities in Turjánvidék Natura 2000 area (mainly in Táborfalva Shooting and Training Range) in line with the original goals of the project. The new activities will be financed from the financial resources that we could save from the planned budget for the hydraulic engineering works.
Among the planned tasks for 2017 are invasive species suppression on additional areas, issuing a public information booklet on control of invasive species, prevention of illegal land use in protected areas, placing further information signs, construction of the water retention structures on the channels of the shooting range, the continuation of forest conversion, monitoring of bird and mammal species and organinzing the project's closing press event.
We continue to inform our readers of the project progress and related news.
06.10.2016 - Klára Kerpely
Exploring the Hungarian Great Plain’s hidden treasure
To introduce and make popular the Hungarian Great Plain, barely known for hiking, and shoing its values is the aim of the trips we organise to the Betyár Hill Nature Trail on the edge of the Shooting Range. In the first years we led kindergarten and elementary school children from the surrounding towns and villages on the forest nature trail, which gives an insight into the treasures of nature and also into the military use. This autumn a group of young adults from Budapest had the opportunity to take part in this rarely attended, interesting hike.
The young nature-lovers were among the supporters and followers of WWF’s activity. In spite of this, they have not known this area before, for most people traditionally choose the mountains for hiking.
Trip on the Great Hungarian Plain (Betyár Hill Nature Trail)
For us it is important that more and more people get to know the remained mosaic landscape of the Turjánvidék, the hidden treasure of the Great Hungarian Plain. The Betyár Hill Nature Trail can be freely visited by groups or individuals on their own as well. It is approachable by bike, by car or by bus from Táborfalva: http://turjanvidek.hu/?/nature_trail
Photos: Bálint Bombay, Eszter Andrási
16.09.2016 - Klára Kerpely
New milestones reached
This April we submitted the second midterm report of our project, in which we presented to the European Commission not only about the technical progress, but also about the financial status reached. The Commission approved our report and transferred the next instalment of the LIFE grant, due for the final years of the project. The project reports are also available for download from our homepage: here >>
András Kovács, responsible member of the external monitoring team of LIFE Program, visited the Turjánvidék this September, after the approval of our second midterm report. On the first day of the visit we reviewed the results achieved since our last meeting:
• The construction of water retention and active water supply structures in the Dabas Turjános Nature Conservation Area is ready.
• We got the water licence for the construction works of water retention structures on the shooting range.
• The new, revised zoning map for the management plan of the Táborfalva Shooting and Training Range is ready.
• The transformation of forests in the selected plots composed of non-indigenous species has achieved good progress.
• Grazing has started on the wet meadows, which are the habitat of meadow viper.
• The area cleaned from invasive plant species on sandy habitats has been increased.
• We held an international conference on the protection against invasive plant species.
• We organized field trips to the Betyár Hill Nature Trail for the introduction of the Turjánvidék.
On the second day we went to the field and visited the places where the tangible results of our work can be seen on the site.
Supervision on one of the afforestation areas. Photo: Éva Zanin
2016.08.03. - Márton Árvay
We have presented the Turjánvidék project’s results in France
The LIFE+ seminar was held at the end of June in Nimes, France where the Turjánvidék LIFE+ project’a staff participated as well. The conference included Project Manager Márton Árvay’s presentation as well. The 150 participants from 16 countries, gained an insight of the LIFE DÉFENSE NATURE 2 MIL (LIFE11 NAT/FR/000734) project areas’ conservation action located close to Nimes. At the roundtable discussions guest speakers presented conservationist interventions, which were implemented through cooperation with the defense ministries in Poland, Germany, the United States, Russia, Britain, Israel, Jordan, Switzerland and Hungary.
Beside several conservation programs for instance, the creation of artificial breeding colonies for coral gulls at a French port, the shooting range’s land management strategies were mentioned as well, such as periodic grazing on dry grasslands or the controlled burning of heathlands. These were shown on the third day of the Turjánvidék LIFE project’s conference under the section of „Land Management with Grazing” along with other organizations for example, the British RSPB, the German RANA and the Latvian Ministry of Defence.
On the field demonstration day, we could view the on site rabbit breeding colonies aimed to improve the Bonelli's Eagle’s decreased prey stock. At a feeding point set up during the project implementation, we had the chance to observe the only nesting Griffon Vulture’s mate. Furthermore, we were presented with a drinker made using only natural materials which helped in the shooting range grazing.
Additional information about the conference here››
Photo: Kinga Forgács, Márton Árvay
2016.06.21. - Klára Kerpely
Bóbita Kindergarten group's trip on Betyár-domb
The Betyárdomb nature trail located at the edge of our project field near Táborfalva has become vivid again during the spring. The entire length of the wooded trail is marked by signposts and everyone is free to visit. Those who are curious to know what types of trees are observable and what kind of animals are hidden in the dense forests or how the landscape has formed, can find the answers on the colorful information boards located along the trail. Experts of the Budapest Forestry Company are holding guided tours on the nature trail for school and kindergarten groups.
On the 13th of June, the Bóbita Kindergarten group from Dabas was guided through the trail, so that children can closely study the secrets of nature. During the trip, the experienced foresters who have been working there for decades, told tales about the region’s flora and fauna to the children.
Although, kindergarteners are not able to read yet, but they can easily recognize where they have been during the trip. We hope that after having such a fun-filled day, they will return next year and bring their parents and sisters to the Betyár-domb as well.
Photo: József Molnár
2016.05.09.- Klára Kerpely
European workshop on eradication and control of invasive plant species
With the participation of more than a hundred experts from fifteen European countries, we held our project’s most significant professional event in Budapest, mid-April an international seminar about the control of invasive plants. At the workshop, management of protected areas, land managers, researchers, regulatory experts, plant protection businesses and other stakeholders exchanged their plentiful experience on the matter.
The workshop’s presentations and posters and the final recommendations of the event are available for download here››
Recordings of the presentations can be viewed on youtube:
On the third day, we visited the Szigeti homokok Natura 2000 region in Szigetmonostor. Where, as a result of previous invasive plant management (HUSK/1101/2.2.1/0052/01- suppressing invasive alien plant species on sand and floodplain habitat) we have found the sand habitats in good condition.
It became evident at the event too, that the suppression and halting the spread of invasive plant species is a major challenge for the conservation sector and for the agencies responsible for management of protected areas. Sharing knowledge is especially important, as currently in Europe the invasive alien plant species are the most serious threat to biodiversity and natural species richness. To halt the spread -especially in protected areas-a more efficient response is needed.
The workshop was held as a follow up of the Natura 2000 biogeographic seminar.
Photo: Klára Kerpely
22 December 2015 - Klára Kerpely
Nature conservation training material for military users
An important goal of the project is to introduce the natural values of the Tábofalva Shooting and Training Range to the military users, so that besides meeting their regular duties they can support the conservation of these values. For this purpose a short training material has been developed about nature conservation, the habitats and species of the shooting range and the conditions of use set by conservation requirements.
- The 1st part of the training is a presentation about the goals and tools of nature conservation, which can be downloaded from here >>
- The 2nd part introduces the wildlife of the shooting range, read it here >>
- More information about protected species living on the site is available here >>
The 3rd part of the training material belongs to the zone map of the shooting range and therefore it is not publicly avalable. It will be delivered to the corps that use the Táborfalva Shooting and Trainaing Range officially.
15 December 2015 - Klára Kerpely
The water supply recovery system of the Dabas Turjános Nature Conservation Area is completed
In early November, in the frame of the C4 Action of our project, a new canal and sluice system providing water to the highly protected Dabas Turjános Nature Conservation Area was handed over. This enables transportation of water from the Danube-Tisza canal to the especially valuable alder bog forests.
A new sluice on the canal connecting the Dabas Turjános Nature Conservation Area with the Danube-Tisza canal Photo: Tamás Gruber
The protected area’s active water supply by pumping may be needed in years when precipitation is so low during winter that the bog forest, which normally at the beginning of the year is flooded and by mid-summer slowly dries out, becomes dry at the beginning of spring and virtually “burns out” during summer. The active water supply provision in the spring can prevent damage to the marshland habitats and destruction of the alder forest due to water shortage. In other years with less poor rainfall, it is sufficient if we do not allow the naturally accumulated water to drain out of the area. To this end, we have built sluices on multiple locations on the canals across the Dabas region enabling water to be retained on the bog forests and on the neighbouring orchid meadows.
There is plenty of water in the alder forest during spring in good years Photo: Klára Kerpely
The completed Dabas Water Managment System, which was an investment by the Duna-Ipoly National Park Directorate, will be complemented in the next year by additional facilities in the area of the Táborfalva shooting ground. Having the combined effect of the two systems, we expect that the water balance of the Turjánvidék Natura 2000 area will be significantly improved, which is essential to the conservation of the wetlands, as well as favourable to military activities and to forestry.
More pictures of the field work in the gallery >>
8 August 2015
Summer is not over yet
The summer edition of Cincér magazine has been published. It tells you more about this project, and inclues the summer programs for public of Danube-Ipoly National Park.
Download it from here:
20 June 2015
Hoopoe settles its family in an old road roller
(c) NatFilm Hungary Kft., Szabolcs Mosonyi. Hoopoe (Upupa epops) is the Bird of the Year in 2015, and one of the 'stars' of the Turjanvidek Southern part Natura 2000 site.
21 May 2015 - Anna Pusztai
Nature trail tour with the students of Örkény
On 14 May we visited Táborfalva again, this time with the students of the school of Örkény, to walk around the nature trail of Betyár Hill (Betyár-domb). In order to broaden the spots for the upcoming TV film about our project area the excursion was accompanied our shooting troop.
During the hiking, students could learn more information about the species of trees and shrubs living in this area. They cleverly enumerated some species we just saw there by themselves, for example Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) and black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia). Yet they enjoyed the most the spectacular deep holes of bomb impacts caused by military use many decades ago, which they crawled in with pleasure. Going along they got information of natural plant associations, then getting out of the forest to the open sand steppes we talked about the herbaceous plants of the area. Children had the opportunity to observe the alkanet (Alkanna tinctoria) blooming currently and they took a little „extermination” of common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), too. After that we introduced them the animal species living in the area and we also managed to catch a glimpse of a European green lizard (Lacerta viridis). Then we spoke some words about selective silviculture.
Photo: Klára Kerpely
We were pleasantly tired of walking around the nature trail and arriving to the venue we surprised the teachers and students of the school with gift packs. The teachers, the students and the workers of WWF also enjoyed the tour, we hope we will have such a good time with the next tour with another school group.
Further information about the nature trail of Betyár Hill: http://turjanvidek.hu/?/nature_trail
6 May 2015 - Annamária Csóka
Right from Brussels: a visit of the European Commission
The visit of the representatives of the European Commission has just ended, which is due only once during the duration of the project. On behalf of our main supporting organisation, our guests were László Bécsy and Paivi Rauma, whom are following the progress of our project in Brussels and now managed to observe our achievements on the scene. They were accompanied by our monitor, András Kovács, representing the NEEMO-Geie external monitoring group. All the members of our partnership were involved actively in the programme of this pleasant visit.
On 14 April 2015, in the centre of Danube-Ipoly National Park Directorate in Budapest, we summarised the technical, administrative and financial aspects of the project. Furthermore, on 15 April, we also traversed the project area. Representing the value of the habitats, we have already come across some blooming San iris (iris arenaria); moreover, two hens of the great bustard have appeared in our binoculars. The programme became even more exciting when our land rover got stuck in the mud – yet, fortunately, there was no shortage of helping hands and cars.
The visitors left satisfied and wished us all the success in our further efforts.
Photo: Pál Kézdy
1 May 2015
Trailer of the nature documentary, being shot in Turjánvidék and the Táborfalva Shooting Range
(c) NatFilm Hungary Kft., Szabolcs Mosonyi. The full movie will be broadcast in 2016. Till then watch the short clips and enjoy.
9 April 2015
Playful European ground squirrels meet the camera in Táborfalva shooting range
(c) NatFilm Hungary Kft., Szabolcs Mosonyi. Ground squirrels are the Mammal of the Year in 2015, and one of the 'stars' of the Turjanvidek Southern part Natura 2000 site.
25 February 2015 - Anna Pusztai
On track of the blind mole rat
On Monday, a guest expert visited the project territory again to help the fellow workers of the Danube-Ipoly National Park Directorate. Gusztáv Boldog came from the Körös-Maros National Park Directorate to search after the presence of the blind mole rat (Nannospalax leucodon), which is the rarest mammal in Europe. During the fieldwork, our colleagues learned in practice the monitoring methodology of the blind mole rat, which roots are very similar to molehills. During the day, they searched the traces together with the expert of KMNPI, if they are refer to the presence of the blind mole rat or not. However in one day they didn’t find exact proof of the almost never visible, hiding rodent, the expert affirmed that the Turjánvidék LIFE+ project territory could be a suitable habitat for it.
Thus, there is no definite outcome yet, but according to previous area data we could expect the occurrence of the Vojvodina blind mole rat, which is by the way the most endangered one from all. Its world population doesn’t exceed the 300 individual, from which 200 lives in our homeland. In Hungary, we are aware of the occurrence of three out of the five subspecies, the Transylvanian mole rat (Nannospalax transsylvanicus), the Hungarian lesser blind mole rat (Nannospalax hungaricus) and the Vojvodina blind mole rat (Nannospalax montanosyrmiensis).
Even if somehow we would meet with one specimen, at first sight it would show an unusual image, because it doesn’t have eyes and its earflap and tail is missing. Its cylindrical body is 15-25 cm long, which is covered with brownish-grey, soft, slinky fur. This extraordinary animal spends almost his all life in his underground tunnels, only very rarely and briefly comes to the surface. Down there in the dark it orientates by its exceptional sense of smell, hearing and through the detection of the earth’s magnetic field. It digs the tunnels, which total length is up to 100 meters, with his teeth. For nourishment he eats the plant’s underground parts, tubers and bulbs. Another curiosity of this solitary creature is that with his neighbours he communicates with sounds which are similar to knocking.
In our country the specially protected animal is now on the brink of extinction. Its theoretical value is 1 million forint. The main threatening factors are the termination or rather the division and fragmentation of grassland habitats. It also leads to further decrease in its population that the living individuals can’t find each other at the isolated habitat patches. Breaking and ploughing the grasslands and the afforestation is causing the devastation of specimens that live there. Protection is also particularly important, because the blind mole rat is the only terrestrial vertebrate species, which has been developed in the Carpathian Basin and only occurs here in the whole world, so we can consider it as a real hungaricum.
Photo: Gusztáv Boldog
10 January 2015 - Annamária Csóka
Our star guest this year: the four-footed specialist
Photo: Szilárd Morvai
Since the start of Turjánvidék LIFE+ project many (two-legged) field experts have turned up in our project site. However, their first four-legged representative visited us at the end of last year.
What we could read in his autobiography? Something like this:
Education: He studied at the National Police Headquarters Training School of Dunakeszi.
Work place: MME- Hungarian Birdlife and Nature Conservation Association. He often works together with the National Investigation Office.
Hobby: The ball.
He is Falco, the poison searcher dog who is at first sight a beautiful, tireless German shepherd. However, his reflective service vest distinguishes him immediately from an average dog. He wears a small bell to warn off the game. But he doesn't care about them too much! He has a more important role: with the help of his exceptional sense of smell he quests for the poisoned by malignant people, but still alive birds, their corpse and the deadly baits. If he finds something suspicious, he signs with loud barks to his boss.
Unfortunately Falco didn't come without a reason: in November of 2013 several eagles were poisoned near to our project territory. (Out of the three victims, two white tailed eagles died, but the life of the imperial eagle was saved thanks to the rapid intervention.) At the end of last year our ranger discovered a corpse of a common buzzard, which was poisoned according to suspicions, now within the territory of Turjánvidék LIFE+.
The poisoning is a serious obstacle to that the eagles population could stabilize permanently again in the Carpathian Basin. In Hungary, in the last decade, the number of poisoning cases has risen dramatically, and as a result hundreds of eagles has died in terrible agony! The theoretical value is individually 1 million forint of these majestic birds, which are killed insidiously because of unknown reasons. The perpetrators usually avoid the impeachment.
To solve this untenable situation the HELICON LIFE project began, which primary aim is to curb the imperial eagle poisoning, so the nature conservation sector is working closely with law enforcement.
Falco (nomen est omen, because his name in latin means falcon) according to our plans will visit us several times with his keeper this year. Actually we hope, that beyond the joy of field tracking there will be no more job for them...
Get more information about eagle protection: http://www.imperialeagle.hu/
Watch a short movie about Falco here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpijQecuK7Q
Photo: Annamária Csóka