Categories: LIFE project Date: Jan 24, 2012 Title: The steppe oak woods LIFE project has been completed
The five-year LIFE project to protect the steppe oak woods of Nagykőrös was finished successfully in December. Thanks to support from the European Union, the Nagykőrös oak woods on the Great Plain remain undisturbed for another 85 years.
Reports about our efforts to protect the Nagykőrös steppe oak woods, along with the involvement of local people and our mutual success have been continuously updated on this website of the project.
Danube-Ipoly National Park Directorate, together with its partners WWF Hungary and Nagykőrös Municipality managed to eliminate aggressively spreading invasive species on more than 400 hectares that threaten native vegetation. The goal was to help the fragmented patches of the steppe oak woods develop into a more natural state with ecologically valuable clearings and oak groves. Therefore native oak and poplar saplings were planted in the areas cleaned from the invasive vegetation. It was a difficult task because young saplings had to compete with the new shoots of the aggressively spreading invasives to get enough water. The dry weather in 2009 and 2011 was especially trying for them, but the ample precipitation in 2010 was very important for their growth. To protect the planted and spontaneously growing saplings from the overstocked fallow and roe deer populations and the wild boar, we built a game exclusion fence.
Danube-Ipoly National Park Directorate took over the right of disposal of most of the steppe oak woods, and thus logging stopped for 90 years, which is one of the essential results of the project. The most important steppe woods of Nagykőrös can grow undisturbed for another 85 years, because only conservation management, research activities and visitor guidance take place. Strázsa hill, which is under local protection, but had problematic ownership finally became the property of the National Park. It is also a very important result of the project that more and more people know about the previously unknown natural treasure, not only from Nagykőrös but from the whole country. The establishment of the Pálfája Education Centre and its always smiling ‘hostess’ Mária Sápi environmental educator had a major role in this, providing interesting and useful activities in the woods for the visiting school groups. An easily accessible path that can be explored independently was also built as a result of the project. There is a colourful guide book downloadable free of charge from the website about the methuselah oak tree known as Basafa and the Pálfája Nature Trail.
Danube-Ipoly National Park Directorate ensures the nature conservation activities are continuing, and the Education Centre is maintained by the Nagykőrös Municipality. WWF Hungary continues to organise volunteer programmes and take part in creating awareness and providing information. We hope that this amazing and also unique and valuable forest remains a popular tourist destination, and more and more people realise that this is our natural heritage.
Layman's report of the project is available here >>