Mixed forests of Leaota Mountains

Romania has some of the most beautiful, diverse and stable forests in all of Europe and a high percentage of natural forest is in the area of Leaota Mountains. These forests are predominantly composed of beech (Fagus sylvatica), fir (Picea abies) and spruce (Picea abies) with a distribution that varies upon altitude, with beech predominant in lower altitudes starting at 600 m and spruce at higher altitudes beyond 1,400m.

Starting from 520 m of altitude and up to 1,000 m, the forests of Leaota Mountains are represented by pure beech forests (Fagus sylvatica), with scattered individuals of Norway maple (Acer platanoides), sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus), and European ash (Fraxinus excelsior). The upper montane level is dominated by spruce, whose upper limit varies from 1,600 m to 1,750 m of altitude.

The forests of Leaota Mountains are shelter of a variety of species, too. Surveys performed by Wildland showed that the diversity of species is higher in mixed forests than the diversity of species in pure spruce or beech forests. The mixed forest habitats, with numerous species of mosses, lichens, mushrooms, and higher plants provide forage for a wide range of invertebrates and vertebrates. It shelters all wildlife from red and roe deer, chamois, to wild boars, bears, wolves, and lynx. The ecosystems with higher species diversity are more efficient and generally more stable and resistant to natural disasters than those with fewer species. Although the overall conservation status of mixed forests of the Leaota Mountains is good, there are artificial spruce monocultures and some areas that are affected by human interventions (e.g. cutting, grazing in the forest, etc.). Wildland has initiated a process of diminishing anthropic impact on the forests by using a combination of non-intervention policy on natural forests, replanting clear-cuts with the natural species composition, and kick-starting transformation of artificial spruce monocultures into mixed mountain forests.

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