In order to better understand how our landscape is developing it is hugely important to try and quantify any changes. We can often see and hear the changes around us, but without measuring, without recording and without documenting these changes, they quickly become accepted as the new normal.
By conducting surveys, we observe various aspects of the region in detail, in order to track how much they are changing and in what way. Some of these changes might only be visible when you put together a large dataset of many perspectives or observations. Over a sufficient period of time, trends become clear and this then allows us to focus our attention on the changes that are most worrying, and that pose a threat to the future of the open landscape.
It is the local people that see and feel the changes to the landscape most. It is therefore important that we listen to the challenges and needs of these people that still work the land and have something to say about it. We have interviewed a number of small-scale farmers and craftspeople in order to learn more. Themes and problems that reoccur are evidently the ones that need addressing to ensure local people can continue to thrive and keep up with the rapid developments happening in the region. We want to listen and act on what we are told and transmit this to local politicians and decision makers, support these rural communities and protect their knowledge and crafts that might otherwise disappear.
At the beginning of our project “Civic Engagement and Advocacy in the Hârtibaciu Valley. Preserving the Open Landscape”, we wanted to find out what the state of civic engagement is in our region. This is an important factor in our activities – we want to encourage citizens to highlight grievances and exercise their rights. Since we can only find out from the people living here, the people affected, we have chosen the method of an online survey. More than 300 people have answered it so far.
At the end of the project, we plan to conduct the survey again. Among other things, we want to record changes that can be traced back to our activities.
The Hartibaciu Plateau is one of the most important protected areas for birds in Romania. However, since its designation in 2007 there has been no extensive surveying of the bird communities and to see how species populations may have changed since then. To improve the situation, we started a series of bird surveys in 2022. We hope this will become a long-term study, focusing on the difference in bird communities across agricultural land-uses, as well as monitoring trends in populations of particular species. As time goes on, we intend to increase the scope of the study and continuously analyse the data to inform authorities and conservation actions.
Romania is still home to many large carnivores that have disappeared from other parts of Europe. The project area itself is a very important ecological corridor for these mammals, in particular the brown bear, wolf and lynx. We are concerned that landscape changes here are not taking into consideration the needs of these species. We have found that many of the corridors that have been identified are blocked by electric fences, roads and other developments.
To better understand which animals are using these corridors and how their movements are changing, we are using camera traps to monitor the presence and behaviour of animals in this area, with a particular focus on the large mammals. To see some of the results from these surveys, you can follow us on social media or watch the videos here.