1. Improving water supply
The middle and the more mesic north-western parts of the project area were once a continuous wetland. However, one of the biggest problems is the lack of water now. Draining, the establishment of a channel network, and the decrease in rainfall have changed the water balance of the area significantly. There has been a serious decrease in groundwater levels, which decreased the extent of the surface water coverage, leading to a rapid drying up of wet habitats. This has resulted in a change, and even a disappearance of valuable habitats which depend on a higher groundwater level.
A special problem is the decline in alder, and an increase in the proportion of ash, which is probably due to drying. Lack of water has a negative effect on all habitats and species of the Turjánvidék Natura 2000 area, but it is especially critical for the conservation of the alder marshes periodically flooded with water. A change in natural regeneration leads to a transformation of the forest and further decrease in its extent.
- Aim: Water management plan and installation of water management facilities, improvement in water supply, improved storm water retention, and improved naturalness of alder and ash forests in 88 ha
2. Invasive elimination
The rapid spread of invasives is a common problem in conservation all around the globe. The sand steppes and poplar-juniper thickets near Tatárszentgyörgy and Örkény are infected with invasive species. A further problem is that of the plantations of the non-native trees. In the case of Pannonic sand steppes and poplar-juniper thickets, the most problematic plants are black locust, tree of heaven, European Black Pine and Scots Pine, and Common Milkweed, whereas alder and ash woodlands are threatened by Maple Ash and non-native poplar species. In the verges, the spread of silverberry endangers the survival of the native community. There is a varying extent of infection of the habitats, from 100% in the case of plantations to a moderate 2-10% elsewhere, but it is generally manageable and restorable.
- Aim: 1100 ha of invasive-free sand steppe and juniper-poplar thicket and 42 ha of native sand forest.
- Aim: Improve the state of and eliminate invasives from alder and ash woodlands in 71 ha.
3. Hungarian meadow viper conservation
The aim of the project is to increase and manage the potential habitat size of this highly endangered snake species. Based on the experience of local farmers extensive grazing is going to gradually replace the present practice of mowing. Due to grazing, the number of Orthoptera (crickets, locusts, which are the main diets of the viper) is going to increase, grassland structure is going to be gradually transformed into tussock, and new areas are going to develop with long grass, which are good hiding places for the reptiles. The old name of the area (“Göbölyjárás”) is a clue that it was used for cattle grazing at the beginning of the century.
Non-indigenous black locust plantations will be removed from higher ground so that these rare reptiles regain a vital part of their habitat where they can retreat in times of high ground water and also for wintering.
- Aim: Introduction of cattle grazing on approx. 500 ha for the conservation of the Hungarian meadow viper, and transformation of 64 ha of homogenous patches of arable land wedged in native vegetation cover, as well as 30 ha of non-native forests into grasslands, which are potential viper habitats, and more valuable from a conservation point of view.
- Aim: Preventing illegal disturbance of habitats by closing the roads (41 crossing gates).
4. Education, communication:
Most of the project area is actively used by the military, and functions as shooting and training ground, therefore the main users are soldiers. Our aim is to inform them and raise their environmental awareness, which is done by several steps. We are going to be involved in the education of the environmental officers by adding conservation information of the shooting range to their present training materials. Valuable habitat maps are going to be published for field use to disseminate information on the areas to be spared, and to involve soldiers in the monitoring of some easily recognisable species.
- Aim: Education of environmental officers about the natural values of the area (pocket cards about the zones to be protected, training material)
5. Scientific work, research:
Conservation management, monitoring:
The aim of data collection is to be able to monitor the results of measures taken during the implementation of the project.
A: Removal of invasive species
B: Natural and artificial forest renovation
C: Improvement of the natural value of forests
D: Changes in the structure of potential meadow viper habitats
E: Effects of water retention