There is a natural duality present in the area in terms of habitats. There are forests, mostly of oak in the lower areas, whereas the higher elevation areas are covered with dry steppe vegetation. The mosaic of these is the forest steppe, which is typical of our Great Plain. This forest steppe zone starts in the Carpathian Basin and continues on to the central areas of Eurasia. A special community of the sand dunes is the poplar-juniper thickets, which can also be found here. The lower areas are different, as they were once floodplains. Alder-ash forests are present there, as well as tall sedge and tussock, mesic and drying-up fens at a slightly higher elevation. “Turjános” is this wetland vegetation, which gave the name to the whole area.
There are almost 550 plant taxa observed here, which is almost half of the flora of the Danube-Tisza interfluve. Due to this large number of species, the area belongs to the species-rich areas of the Danube-Tisza interfluve. Many of them are endemic or sub-endemic.
It is important to emphasise that the Hungarian meadow viper is known to be living here on the shooting range, as well as the Great Bustard, and the largest Hungarian populations of the Sand iris and the Hungarian ground beetle. There are 2 out of the three natural populations of the highly protected Giant plantain in the shooting range.
Habitat types of EU importance in the southern part of the Turjánvidék:
- Pannonic sand steppes (6260) – priority habitat, approx. 1100 ha
- Pannonic inland sand dune thicket (Junipero-Populetum albae) (Junipero-Populetum albae) (91N0) –priority habitat, approx. 300 ha
- Alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior (91E0) –priority habitat 87 ha
- Alluvial meadows of river valleys of the Cnidion dubii (6440) approx. 13 ha
- Molinia meadows on calcareous, peaty or clayey- silt-laden soils (Molinion caeruleae) (6410) kb. 390 ha
- Mesic calcareous fens and sedge meadows (7230) approximately 270 ha
Flora and fauna
Fens and sand steppes are the most important habitats from a botanical point of view. Rare and protected species can be found here in the largest numbers, for example more than 10 orchid species.
Furthermore, sand steppes are home to several endemic species, which can only be found in the Carpathian basin.
These are the following: Sand stonecrop (Sedum hillebrandtii), Downy flax (Linum hirsutum
subsp. glabrescens), Purple golden-drop (Onosma arenaria), Greater knapweed (Centaurea scabiosa ssp. Sadleriana), Hungarian pink (Dianthus giganteiformis ssp. Pontederae), Latecoming pink (Dianthus serotinus subsp. serotinus), Fastigiate Gypsophila (Gypsophila fastigiata subsp. arenaria), Flocculent goat's beard (Tragopogon floccosus) Sub-endemic species are similarly important: Sand saffron (Colchicum arenarium), Globe thistle (Echinops ruthenicus), and Sand iris (Iris humilis subsp. arenaria). Wetlands are not so species-rich, but there are some endemic species here, too: Small flowered thistle (Cirsium brachycephalum), Jávorka's hair-grass (Koeleria javorkae), and Grape hyacinth (Muscari botryoides ssp. Kerneri).
15 highly protected, 118 protected and 24 Red Book species
20 species of community importance, including 1 priority species (Hungarian meadow viper (Vipera ursinii)
74 protected and 9 highly protected species
4 species of community importance
PLANT SPECIES OF COMMUNITY IMPORTANCE
Sand saffron (Colchicum arenarium)
Sand iris (Iris humilis ssp. arenaria)
The shooting range is home to the biggest population in Hungary, with estimated numbers around millions of specimens. Widespread in sand steppes and poplar-juniper thickets.
ANIMAL SPECIES OF COMMUNITY IMPORTANCE
Hungarian long-horned grasshopper (Isophya costata)
Highly protected, Red Book species, endangered.
Hungarian ground beetle (Carabus hungaricus)
Highly protected, one of its biggest populations live on the shooting range of Táborfalva.
Great capricorn beetle (Cerambyx cerdo)
Its population is small and vulnerable.
Stag beetle (Lucanus cervus)
Its population is small and vulnerable.
Scarce large blue (Maculinea teleius)
Its range is connected to fens, its population on the shooting range is small.
European fire-bellied toad (Bombina bombina)
Danube crested newt (Triturus dobrogicus)
Hungarian meadow viper (Vipera ursinii)
European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis)
Giant Bustard (Otis tarda)
The Great bustard can be found on the Táborfalva shooting range and in the Turjános Nature reserve of Dabas , although it probably does not nest on the site. Flocks in the autumn often assemble in the area near Ürbőpuszta. Those birds turn up at the north-western part of the shooting range, where they feed on the meadows and the neighbouring fens with tall grass, and arable lands. They are shy and cautious birds, and cannot tolerate disturbance, but because military operations are rarely done in this area, the bustards have an appropriate home here.
European ground squirrel (Spermophilus citellus)
Smaller populations live in the area of Bugyi in restored grasslands.
Present situation of the Hungarian meadow viper
The Hungarian meadow viper is one of the most endangered vertebrate of Hungary and even Europe. It is highly protected in Hungary, its goodwill value is 1 000 000 Ft. The Red Book lists it as a species critically endangered. It is also listed in Appendix 1 of the Washington Agreement (CITES), in Appendix 2 of the Bern Agreement, and in Appendix 2 of the Habitats Directive. IUCN lists it as endangered. It is first in the ranking of vertebrates from a conservation point of view.
There are only two populations of the Hungarian subspecies of Vipera ursinii (Vipera ursinii rakosiensis Méhely, 1893) in the north-western part of the country, and roughly 10 populations in the central part. The biggest population of the Kiskunság lives on the shooting range. This population is estimated to be of 5-15 individuals. Isolation and critically small numbers may lead to the disappearance of the population. Until the mid-1990s the population was more or less stable because of the not too intensive military use. The area has been burnt several times after IFOR troops trained on the shooting range, which had a tragic effect on the viper population, because the few surviving individuals could not feed on the burnt ground, and could be preyed on easily. The critically small number is the most threatening factor presently.
Source: www.ceeweb.org and materials from Danube-Ipoly National Park Directorate