Traditional Hay Harvest in the Carpathians
Photographer: Robert Ghement
The Southern Carpathian Mountains are part of the Transylvania region and support a rich variety of plants and animals. On these high altitude pasture hills, Romanian farmers are still using the traditional manual way of harvesting hay. The hay will be used as natural fodder for their livestock during the winter time, while a fresh cut pasture makes grazing easier for the sheep flocks populating the green grass hills.
Traditionally farmed grasslands in Transylvania support a vast array of flora and fauna and a wide range of endangered animal species. Whilst many other developed countries in Europe have lost vast swathes of their meadowland to mechanized farming, Romania still has 2.4 million hectares of semi-natural grasslands.
There have been increasing efforts at national and European Union level to preserve low intensity or High Nature Value (HNV) farming in the mountain hay meadows of Romania. Various projects and funding opportunities are underway to preserve the astounding biodiversity of this region. For example, famers may sign up to government schemes which provide financial support if they continue non-mechanized farming methods and refrain from using chemical fertilizers. This fits in with the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity 2011-20 which aims to significantly reduce the loss of biodiversity worldwide.
Biodiversity aside, the Romanian farmers swear by filling their pillows and mattresses with freshly cut grass and flowers to enjoy the best night’s sleep of the year.