Fanatele Rusciorului meadow-steppe habitat

Not much remained today from the once so large and wonderful meadow-steppe grasslands from the Ruscioru floodplain in the western part of the Sibiu Depression

In 1978 an article dedicated to the most precious species which existed here, Plantago maxima (see some considerations upon this topic on this site here and here) the great naturalist of Sibiu Erika Scheider-Binder revealed the fact that there are still large surfaces of undegraded meadow-steppe grasslands on deep, rich in humus gley chernozems and phaeozems. The network of channels for draining and sheep grazing were not so extended. Since then because these two activities expanded a lot the most of the meadow-steppe grasslands were ravaged and the local last five populations of Plantago maxima mapped and presented by Schneider-Binder in her article got extinct.

These hayfields represented for the inhabitants of Sibiu until late in the XIXth century and the beginning of the XXth what Fanatele Clujului represented for the inhabitants of Cluj - the traditional mowing areas which provided fodder for their cattles. Though urban areas are involved this time, in the cities of Transylvania many inahbitants were cattle and sheep breeders and the urban localities as a consequence have a similar structure of their lands in their administrative areas as the traditional Transylvanian villages had (see fig. 2 on the main page of meadow-steppe habitats). But certainly the extension of the hayfields of the cities was much larger than in the case of villages. Therefore due to their huge extension necessary once for a larger urban population the traditional hayfields ('Fanatele') of Cluj-Napoca and Sibiu cities were much better and longer preserved and on larger areas than all of those around the much smaller villages.

However both Fanatele Clujului and Fanatele Rusciorului habitats are now in an advanced stage of degradation, ruderalization and decomposition which imposes urgent measures. Amusing and of a bitter taste at the same time is the fact that only now, on july 2009 the Sibiu county Council wants wants to protect these habitats and the populations of Plantago maxima which seemingly does not exist anymore. The area they now want protected (see the perimeter noted as R1 on this official map of the PUG Sibiu project) is almost completely degraded and the former meadow-steppe grasslands mostly replaced by the totally ruderal 'walking grasslands' belonging to Lolio-Trifolietum repentis.

The meadow-steppe grasslands which still remained here will be very hard to defend against the aggresive expansion of the Sibiu city nearby to the east and in front of the aggressive regional developers which already have plans to plant buildings in are area.

Here there are the files 1,2,3,4 which reveal the location of the yet well preserved meadow-steppe grasslands which remained here, in the western part of Sibiu Depression.

The largest ones and the best preserved are unfortunately not in the administrative area of Sibiu city, but in the Ruscioru village area, west of the county road DJ106B and they regularly and industrialy mowed by a farm nearby which can clearly be seen on Google Earth by using file no. 2 from above. Here we can see some areas where Galium boreale is abundant and along with Clematis integrifolia, Clematis recta and Centaurea triumfettii ssp. axillaris clearly resembles the aspect of all the other meadow-steppe grasslands from transylvania, though in this case the lcoation will seem weird for a naturalist - these grasslands are located on a totally flat floodplain and not on a slope. However many areas in this perimeter 2 which belongs to that farm from Ruscior are ruderalized and the indicator species are absent there this fact being indicative again probably for a seasonal grazing during autumn and spring.

These species will be found on a much less extent in the other perimeters shown on the map. The best protected one is curiously and somehow paradoxally the perimeter 1 which stands along the railway because here there stands the railway protection area where all human activities are totally forbidden with the exception of the railway maintenance. It is this perimeter where we found a small population of Peucedanum latifolium along with Iris spuria - both being indicative for a slight salt content of the soil - the first species not being found in the flora of Sibiu County for more than a century as long as we know.



















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