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România deținea, la nivelul anului 2015, un număr de 1.486 de arii naturale protejate, în creștere cu 156,6% față de anul de referință 1990, potrivit datelor publicate recent de Societatea Ornitologică Română /SOR/.

Statistica prezentată cu ocazia împlinirii a 25 de ani de mediu indică faptul că, la sfârșitul anului trecut, pe plan național existau 13 parcuri naționale și 15 parcuri naturale. De asemenea, Rețeaua Natura 2000 din România cuprindea 383 de Situri de Importanță Comunitară (SCI), respectiv 148 de Situri de Protecție Avifaunistică (SPA).

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The Lunca Muresului Natural Park, located on the inferior course of Mures River, between the dams built on each side of the river and its high terraces, is a biodiversity paradise in a relatively confined area. The massive number of protected species of plants, as well as the over 200 bird species nesting in the park give a plus scientific value to the area, currently protected through a great number of domestic and international treaties.

Photo credit: (c) Ioan WEISL / AGERPRES ARCHIVE

Inside the Lunca Muresului Natural Park, which has a 17,455.2 ha area and is spread on the territories of Arad and Timis Counties, its eastern border being only 4 km away from the centre of the Municipality of Arad, the river covers an 88 km distance, with a 120 metre average width, the last portion, from Nadlac to Cenad, representing the border between Romania and Hungary.

The floodplain of the inferior course of Mures River is a typical wetland ecosystem, with running waters, lakes, swamp forests, willow and poplar galleries, as well as riverside coppices and floodplains, unique in Romania for its natural beauty, an important nesting and passage place for a number of over 200 bird species, many of them under a strict international protection regime.

Photo credit: (c) Dorina BUZILA / AGERPRES ARCHIVE

According to Paul Hac, the Park Administration Director, the natural reserve area of Lunca Muresului initially covered less than 100 hectares and was located in the Prundul Mare zone, which was declared protected area in 1970, when, following some studies carried out by a group of experts, it was decided that the grey heron population needed to be protected. In 1988, the reserve area was extended to 12,000 hectares and, due to the diversity of the bird species and the international relevance of some of them, Bird Life International designated it Important Bird and Biodiversity Area.

The Lunca Muresului National Park (PNLM) has kept the present-day shape since 2005, when the authorities declared it protected area in its entirety of almost 17,500 hectares, being one of the four areas of Romania included on the RAMSAR List of Wetlands of International Importance, currently drawing tourists from all over the continent.

According to Paul Hac, the PNLM administration is more focused on conservation and protection rather than on development, taking into account that the confined area of the park itself is partly responsible for the biodiversity here.

The flora of the reserve is very diverse, with over 1,000 species and subspecies of woody and weedy plants, out of which a great number of plants are on the Red List of Threatened and Rare Species of Romania.

Photo credit: (c) Dorina MATIS / AGERPRES STREAM

The fauna of the protected area is rich and diverse, as consequence of the variety of the aquatic and land ecosystems, which ensure proper living conditions to many animal species, relevant in terms of hunting and science. It counts over ten thousand species, vertebrate and non-vertebrate, out of which a few thousands are part of the second category. Within the vertebrate category, birds are represented with over 200 species, fish, with 50, mammals, with 40, and amphibians, with 8-10 species.

The bird population of the park numbers a multitude of species. Some of the common species encountered here are: the great cormorant, the night heron, the little egret, the grey heron, the mallard, the black-headed gull, the coot, the plover and the bee-eater. But there are also bird species more rarely seen here, some only during the passage, such as: the white-tailed eagle, the common shelduck, the little grebe, the water rail, the purple heron, the great snipe, the common sandpiper, the lesser spotted eagle, the saker falcon and the black stork.

Photo credit: (c) Ioan WEISL / AGERPRES STREAM

Among the various mammal species living in the park, it is worth mentioning the stag, the wild boar, the otter, the fox, the coypu, the European pond turtle, the crested newt and the ground squirrel.

Tourists can admire both the mammals and the birds from especially built places.

At the same time, in the running and still waters of the reserve, there are over 50 fish species, making it one of the richest areas on a river segment in Romania.

‘For the tourists wanting to spend a holiday surrounded by tranquillity, in a place where nature rules, the Lunca Muresului National Park provides 40 accommodation places in the Ceala Visiting Cenre, the Pecica Information Point and the Cenad Information Point, Timis County, and those who cannot give up comfort can find accommodation in one of the hotels of Arad Municipality,’ Paul Hac pointed out.

According to him, most tourists, who want to admire the special beauty of nature, take walks through the protected area, with their cameras hanging around their necks. Another option for those who want to stay on land is taking a bicycle ride, the cycling lovers being able to enjoy a 12.7 kilometre itinerary following the Mures River course, a marked route, with information panels on the tourist landmarks in the area along the way.

However, the ideal way of spending time in the reserve is going by boat on the river, the Park administration providing various types of boats for rent, from canoes or kayaks, to motor boats, at different prices, depending on the tourist package of choice.

It is worth mentioning that the Lunca Muresului Natural Park includes a wild area, called Balta Bezedin (Bezedin Marshland), where from May through September white water lilies cover the water surface.

Last but not least, the existence of two very old monasteries inside the Lunca Muresului Natural Park must be brought to mind. The first in terms of age, which was first mentioned in an official document in 1177 is Hodos — Bodorog Monastery, belonging to the Romanian Orthodox Church, the oldest monastic place on Romania’s territory, at about 10 kilometres away from Arad Municipality. The second, located at approximately 20 kilometres from the County Residence Municipality, is Bezdin Monastery, one of the few Serbian Orthodox monasteries of Romania, first mentioned in an official document in 1539. AGERPRES

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Nearly 260,000 hectares of Maramures County are covered in forest, out of which more than 100,000 hectares are natural parks and reserves designed to protect alpine flora and fauna.

Photo credit: (c) AGERPRES ARCHIVE

The Rodna Mountains National Park and the Maramures Mountains Natural Park are two of the main attractions for hiking enthusiasts who in summertime travel the mountain paths to reach elevations in excess of 2000 m, admiring the magnificent scenery, while the luckiest of them will chance on chamois, even from a great distance, the animals that are famous for their skilful rock climbing in search for food on the highest of rocks.

‘Tourists who dare climb the mountains are attracted by the local wilderness, difficulty of trails and the possibility of reaching peaks in excess of 2000 m, where weather changes rather quickly because of strong air currents. Provided that the visibility is good, the luckiest of them will enjoy the view of herds of chamois in search for food on rocks. The meeting is fortuitous because they are quite hard to meet and even harder to be taken pictures of,’ says Director of the Maramures Mountains Natural Park Catalina Bogdan.

The Rodna Mountains National Park covers more than 46,000 hectares in the alpine region where the counties of Maramures, Suceava and Bistrita Nasaud converge. Most of the alpine trails travelled by tourists start in Borsa. Tourist accommodation in Borsa is plentiful, including hotels, motels and boarding houses, while ski enthusiasts can test their skills in wintertime on five slopes close to the Borsa mountain resort.

Tourists can reach the Rodna Mountains Natural Park starting in Borsa and travelling the Iezerul Pietrosului trail (660-950 m), signalled out by blue band, to the Pietrosul Rodnei Peak ( 2,303 m) or travelling one the following alternative trails: Borsa-Taurile Buhaiescu; Borsa-Repedea-Buhaescu-Taul Tarnita at Cruce or Taurile Buhaiescu; Poiana Borsa—Negoiescu Peak-Puzdrele where the trail forks out that the tourists can take according to the time on their hand, weather and equipment: Laptelui Peak, Ariesul Mare, Puzdre or Taurile Cimpoiesei, Curmatura Galatiului, Saua and the Gargalu Peak; Borsa Fountain—the Zanoaga Peak-Cascada Cailor-Saua Stiol-Taul Stiol-Iezerul-Izvorul Bistritei Aurii.

Cascada Cailor, Rodna Mts.
Photo credit: (c) Bogdan BARBULESCU / AGERPRES ARCHIVE

Park rangers say June is the best month for an outing in the mountains, as that is the season when the blooming fields of alpenrose heaths, gentianas, and primroses can be admired in all their splendour.

Inside the park, covering nearly 3,300 hectares around the Pietrosul Rodnei Massif (2,303 m), there is a homonymous scientific reserve.

Another reserve that covers just 50 hectares is Piatra Rea, which mountain enthusiasts know for its picturesque valleys and rapids that stretch close to the left flank of the Piatra Rosie Peak.

Scenery at the Rodna Mountains Natural Park is of dizzying beauty that shows traces of glaciation, with specific glacial valleys, lakes, slopes, rapids, steep peaks and cascades arising at nearly 1,000 m elevation. The park started as a natural reserve back in 1932, when Romania was taking first steps in environmental protection.

Photo credit: (c) Paul BUCIUTA / AGERPRES ARCHIVE

Specialists have catalogued hundreds of flora species, some of them very rare, including bladder campion, Gentiana, edelweiss, ground pine, heaths as well as a wide range of moss that can be met in Romania only. The edelweiss that grows at elevations in excess of 1,500 m has been declared a nature monument and got legal protection.

The Rodna Mountains national reserve is also famous for its nearly 400 chamois believed to live in the mountains and that are spotted or being taken pictures of by tourists haphazardly. The first 200 chamois populated the park in 1964-1970, having been bred under a national programme from the Retezat, Bucegi and Piatra Craiului Mountains. For decades, the chamois colony has increased and its acclimatisation has been beneficial.

Unfortunately, the Police have spotted poachers hunting chamois for meat, but such instances are nevertheless few because of difficulties, including high-altitude natural obstacles and changing weather.

In 1973, the park imported 13 marmots from the Alps. Among the rare species living in the park, there are brown bears, lynxes, wildcats, black grouses, golden eagles, heather cocks, and Carpathian deer. In hot summer time, the viper is a common presence, stretched over rocks.

Also in the park, one of the oldest weather stations in Romania opened in the 1970s, built in a caldera, elevation 1,830, south to Lake Izer, a lake that seen from the nearby slope resembles Romania’s map.

The Maramures Mountains Natural Park, covering more than 140,000 hectares along the border between Romania and Ukraine, is a protected area opened in 2000. It is divided into four reserves established to protect mountain flora and fauna: the Cornul Medei reserve of black grouses; the Farcau — Vinderel Lake-Mihailecu reserve; the Tomnatic-Sehleanu resreve, as well as the Salhoi—Zambroslavele botanic reserve.

Peaks Mihailecu, Piatra Socolaului and Culmea Rugasului, are in high demand. They all impress by their volcanic origins and almost barren land. All tourist trails are open year-round, but the Border Police of Poienile de sub Munte do not encourage mountain enthusiasts to climb in wintertime because of avalanches and wild animal prowling for food, particularly in long winters.

Both parks — the Rodna Mountains and the Maramures Mountains — area treasured by scientists and mountain enthusiasts alike, although in the nearby areas thousands of hectares of forestland have been deforested over the past 25 years, without the coniferous stock being replenished.AGERPRES

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