Flowering of the small pasque flower (Pulsatilla pratensis) along the Ipoly river © DINPD


Centralparks in the Hungarian Carpathians

Within the Centralparks project the Hungarian Danube-Ipoly National Park aims to raise nature conservation management capacity through international cooperation and effective, integrated, science-based nature conservation management planning

The innovative tools and methods introduced with the framework if this project will be based on an innovative approach for habitat management planning. The methodologies developed within Centralparks will be tested within a pilot action carried out in the Börzsöny Mountains. Let's get to know this valuable Carpathian pilot site!

Danube-Ipoly National Park

The Danube-Ipoly National Park was founded in 28th November 1997, but most of its area has been protected as part of the Pilis and Börzsöny Protected Landscape area since 1978. The Directorate includes five main landscape regions; Pilis, Visegrád and Börzsöny Mountain, the Ipoly Valley between Hont and Balassagyarmat and the Danube Valley with the Szentendre Islands. The unique and diverse landscape of the national park originates from the three landscape areas, the river valleys, the plain and the mountains. The total administration area of the national park is 60.314 hectares, within which the national park aims to preserve the relatively intact and closed typical picture of the landscape and undisturbed biodiversity, the clarity of natural waters, conserve forest habitats as well as soil and other renewable resources. The national park surrounds Budapest, the capital if Hungary, which provides a unique opportunity and clear duty to engage millions of people who live in the neighbourhood of the national park. 

There are 334 listed caves in the national park, that is why Budapest is also known as the capital of caves. Moreover, the national park hosts two areas of great importance: Pilis Biosphere Reserve and Ipoly Valley Ramsar Areas. Nine forest reserves can be found within the national park, such as the Pilis Hillside, Prédikálószék and Pogány-Rózsás, among others. The national park belongs to the Carpathian Network of Protected Areas, the DANUBEPARKS Network of Protected Areas and the Danube Floodplains Protected Landscape Area cross-border cooperation network. 

The logo of the national park is the Rosalia longicorn (Rosalia alpina). Although insects are not the most widely appreciated animal class among visitors, this insect species was chosen as the ‘heraldic animal’ of the national park, as it is the symbol of the role of nature conservation: to preserve all manifestations of life regardless of emotional attachment to it. Its larvae develops in putrefied trunks, so this beetle is bound to old forests and deadwood. Apart from its attractiveness, the beetle with such a specific needs reflects to the nature conservation aim. Although its coloration serves as good camouflage, visitors can usually see this protected species between July and August. 

Rosalia longicorn © ifj. DaranyiL

Rosalia longicorn © ifj. Daranyi László


A Centralparks pilot area: Börzsöny Mountains

The Börzsöny is one of the main landscape regions of the Danube-Ipoly National Park. Regarding its geological type, the Börzsöny is a volcanic andesitic mountain range. The eroded volcanic shapes were formed 15-18 million years ago, but the caldera of the ancient volcano can be still seen surrounded by the mountain tops of the High-Börzsöny. During the decay of the mountains, the rock on the surface was cut by the ice age’s large temperature fluctuations, and this is how the typical rock-glaciers and the so called ‘sea of stone’ emerged. However, the hardened, tough rock resisted the abrasion: they created fantastic cliff formations. The landscape and the quality of the soil were intensely changed by the power of wind, which also formed the area of the foot of the mountains. It also covered the wider valleys with loess, which can be up to 10 metres thick.

From the Danube floodplain flora to the dry grassland vegetation and the beech forests many vegetation types can be found within the Börzsöny Mountains. The forests mostly consist of closed oak and beech strands. The rare andesitic rock lawns are of high natural value with protected species, such as Minuartia frutescens and Woodsia ilvensis

At the edge of forests lives the Mountain Apollo butterfly. Moreover, the high nature conservation valued old-growth oak forest gives home to the Stag beetle. The stone crayfish is the inhabitant of the oxygen-rich mountain streams. The protected common frog and fire salamander can be found in wet habitats. The black stork prefers the forests of Börzsöny for its nesting place. The endangered, highly protected Geoffroy’s bat hibernates in caves within the national park. The strictly protected lynx was earlier a permanent member Hungarian fauna, but completely disappeared from the beginning of the 20th century because of hunting and habitat loss, with only casual observations in the Börzsöny in the last decade. 


Photo above: Autumn in the Börzsöny Mountains © Potyol Imre; photo below: Csóványos Mountain in Börzsöny © DINPD

LiDAR: Habitat mapping with laser remote sensing

Within the Centralparks project, a laser remote sensing technology called LiDAR will be used to capture unique information about the relief and the surface cover. This method is based upon light emitted through the generation of rapidly pulsating laser beams towards the examined object, after which the LiDAR sensor collects the reflected light. Using this methodology, a very detailed topography model can be prepared which gives the possibility to explore abiotic values, special habitats (rubble grade and cliff habitats) and cultural heritages (ruins of the earth-settlements, historical coal-burning sites, ducts of railways, cuttings). The LiDAR method has been used worldwide for earth sciences, geology and archaeology for decades with very good outcomes. 

Surface cover evaluation is primarily (at the roughest level) made possible by the aggregation of the first reflections of the laser beams; this reveals the height of the canopy, grasslands and reeds, as well as the closure mosaics caused by leaks and inclines. The surface cover is important for the nature conservation management point of view, as for example for many bird species (Natura 2000 indicators, such as the collared flycatcher and the red-breasted flycatcher), the mosaic of the natural clearings are the best territories.

The further refining of data is allowed by the summary of the intermediate reflections, which has great importance in the case of forests: the more intermediate reflections means the more diverse structure of wood, the more layers the forest, and the more natural state of the forest. This is how the LiDAR method can be used for nature conservation purposes. Combining the data collected by LiDAR with the categorically collected biological data allows the identification of areas with the highest nature conservation importance.

Forest state evaluation

Between 2012-2017, Danube-Ipoly National Park developed a forest state assignment method, which is simple but effective to collect data from multiple variables and to analyse different types of forests with it. In the case of Börzsöny, the collected data largely helped the daily work of the national park to monitor several variables such as natural disturbance and forestry interventions, and supported the negotiations with the forest managers and forestry associations. However, the method required several revisions to be more effective, less time-consuming and more goal-oriented. Within Centralparks, a new, simplified method is developed, that allows a fast survey of the effects of changes caused by human intervention. With the help of the new method, the direct negative effect of human impacts can be communicated to the forest and land managers, as evidence-based information. 

Connected to the development of the new forest state evaluation method, the species lists of the Börzsöny Mountains will be updated and expanded so that the new methodology can be easily used in most mountainous forests in Central Europe, either in full or in modified form.

View on the Börzsöny © Lang Petra Zsófia

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