One of the features that make the Hârtibaciu Plateau a cultural and environmental paradise is the diverse combination of small-scale agriculture. This so-called landscape ‘mosaic’ is created by the strip farming that has been practised here for generations, each small strip consisting of a different crop or land use and managed by a different farmer in the local village. This mosaic is clearly illustrated in the 2005 satellite image.
Unfortunately, after joining the EU, many foreign agricultural enterprises suddenly had the opportunity to buy up huge areas of farmland. The first thing they did after acquiring this land was to consolidate it into large single-use fields, as shown in the 2018 satellite image.
This transformation of over 80 parcels of land into 2 fields not only diminishes the heterogeneous nature of the landscape, but also reduces the number of local landowners and opportunities for small farmers. In the same period of time, the price of land in the area has become about 20 times higher. In 2019, a hectare of land in Sibiu county reached a value of up to 5,500 euros, compared to the Romanian average of 250 euros per hectare in 2004.
The speed at which these changes are occurring in this region is worrying. If it continues, the land will soon be monopolised by a handful of foreign companies and will no longer be the cultural landscape that allows local people and biodiversity to thrive. Each part of the mosaic comes with a different history, heritage, needs and desires. We want to retain the right to have that personal touch, while balancing development at a pace that allows us to have food on the table.