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Keywords:

  • Abandonment and intensification;
  • endangered species;
  • EU policies;
  • habitat management;
  • industrial agriculture;
  • Lepidoptera;
  • natural forests;
  • nature conservation;
  • semi-natural habitats;
  • steppic grasslands

ABSTRACT

Global biodiversity is decreasing as a result of human activities. In many parts of the world, this decrease is due to the destruction of natural habitats. The European perspective is different. Here, traditional agricultural landscapes developed into species-rich habitats. However, the European biodiversity heritage is strongly endangered. One of the countries where this biodiversity is best preserved is Romania. We analyse the possible changes in Romania's land-use patterns and their possible benefits and hazards with respect to biodiversity. As model group, we used butterflies, whose habitat requirements are well understood. We determined the ecological importance of different land-use types for the conservation of butterflies, underlining the special importance of Romania's semi-natural grasslands for nature conservation. We found that increasing modern agriculture and abandonment of less productive sites both affect biodiversity negatively — the former immediately and the latter after a lag phase of several years. These perspectives are discussed in the light of the integration of Romania into the European Union.