Rosia Montana Heritage (Patrimony)

Some people are born with the rhythm of nature beating through their blood and they embrace every chance at open sky and misty forest like an old friend returning after a long while. For them, nature is a friend and they cannot bear to be apart for long.

For others, the love of nature is an awakening; a moment of awareness that her majesty and mystery is a looking glass into their own life… and death. They sense the eternal in the smell of her rich, moist earth deep in the forest and in the sunlight as it streams through a cathedral of birch and elm and sycamore trees. They know she offers more than what the eyes can take in; their gratitude is sincere.

Rosia Montana is a place that awakens a sleeping heart. If given the chance, she offers eternity in a single moment. Atop her mountains, the world, and life itself, is viewed through a different lens. The blanket of clouds that settle in the valleys below on a cool morning carry with them the voices of centuries past: of Dacia Kings and Roman conquerors, of slaves and tribes and medieval courts. They whisper laments of hardship and pain and sing melodies of joys and celebrations. These are the voices of those who once knew Rosia Montana and shared in her natural glories. For us, they are Rosia’s human story, countless lives held together with the threads of her natural heritage.

The rhythm of life beats well in the mountains and valleys of Rosia Montana. Every trail through her thick woods and curve of country road offers the wanderer an opportunity to self-reflect and self-respect. Every leaf, every stone, every cascading mountain spring gently coaxes the visitor to drop their cares and stressful worries. The struggle of life and death reveals itself in every tuck and turn of willow branch and rocky crevice. Where there is life, death is close behind and from death, life springs again.

Eternity is nature’s blood and it is through her eternal play of life and death that we see our own selves. In the fallen tree, now more earth than plant, we find life arising from the dead cells of what was once a towering canopy of leaves. Colorful mushrooms and uncommon fungi populate the dark humus like fireflies in the night. Life is born from death because, in truth, there is no death; the seed of Life is always present.

Rosia Montana is a monument to Life. She is worthy of our greatest compassion and greatest care. Her natural heritage stretches back thousands of years, indeed, millions of years when her mountains formed from volcanic tempests. It’s a heritage that ultimately joins with man, a reminder of Life’s ever changing story, a story of which we are all a part.

Rosia Montana’s natural heritage is a gift to all of us; to the people who call her home, to Romanians in every city and village, to Europeans and to the world. How we safeguard her treasures will be our legacy to our children and their children, a legacy that can inspire, teach and speak of life’s mysteries.

Then, in the coolness of the morning, as they stand atop the mountains that rise above Rosia Montana, they will watch the clouds settle into the valleys below and hear the voices of the past… our voices.

Roşia Montană is unique not only through its cultural patrimony but also through the beauty of its inherited natural environment. The mountains, the forests, the meadows and the mining ponds of Roşia Montană create a natural landscape appreciated not only by the tourists in search of natural beauty but also by archaeologists, architects, historians, geologists and photographers; they all recognize the close link between the cultural and natural heritage.

1. The  natural environment
The elements of the natural patrimony of Roşia Montană rests in one of the best preserved natural environments in all of Europe: The Apuseni Mountains.

2. Mountains
The seven mountain massifs that surround the settlement have mostly volcanic origin.

North and East of the village are the massifs Rotundu, Şulei, Ghergheleu, Jig-Văidoaia. At the South – Cârnic Massif and Cetate and at the West – Orlea.

From the top of  Cârnic Massif you can see Detunatele, a geological natural reservation and one of the biggest tourist attractions of the region, and Vulcan Mountain – a paleontological and botanical natural reservation.

3. Lakes
The landscape is enriched by “tăuri”,  lakes designed in the past to provide the water necessary in processing the gold ore. Situated at altitudes of 900 and 1000 meters, the lakes are an advantage for tourism.

In the territory of Roşia Montană were identified over 105 such lakes, some of them still present at the foot of the massifs.

The most beautiful and valuable in terms of tourism are: Ţarina, Tăul cel Mare, Tăul Brazi, Corna and Anghel.

4. Meadows
Approximately 80% of the village area is covered by vegetation specific to the meadows. They provide habitats for many plant species of which many are threatened with extinction.

5. The natural landscape
The natural landscape is mountainous with lakes located on forested hills. The villages are situated along steep valleys. The uniqueness of the landscape is due to the historical footprints of the gold mining: eight lakes and many miles of subterranean galleries.

The open-pit mining executed during the communist regime had dramatic consequences not only on the archaeological heritage of the site but also on the natural landscape.

After the exploitation, the Cetate Massif was devastated and even after 40 years, the natural landscape of the settlement still wears the wounds of the  open-pit mine where no reclamation of the land was ever done.

6. Flora
Roşia Montană is a habitat of considerable richness and complexity for a geographically limited area. It is characterized by forests, meadows and wetlands of botanical interest and variety.

In an independent study on the biodiversity of the area six habitats were identified of which 4 are priority habitats for conservation.

Nardus mountain grasslands on siliceous substrates
Mountain meadows
Active raised bogs
Southeast Carpathian hazel hedges
Subcontinent Peri-Pannonian hedges
Alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior

“The habitats state/condition is stable, with excellent and well-preserved structures, with a high conservation value and with elements in a well preserved state. These habitats contain many species from the Red List of the Plants from Romania.” 

“The meadows rich in flowers of the Carpathian region in Romania represent a priceless ecologic and cultural national reachness. Similar grasslands, certainly those found below 1000m altitude, have disappeared from most of Europe. In UK this habitat has been reduced by 90% from 1945 until today. In Eastern Europe, such semi-natural grasslands become more and more endangered. In the case of Roşia Montană these grasslands maintain a multitude protected species and habitats of global importance.

“According to Dr. John Akeroyd, a specialist in ecological restoration/reconstruction, it is impossible to replace the complex of acidic bogs and the swamps associated to them by rebuilding the habitats or through other methods of improvement. These marshes and bogs have developed along thousands of years. The wet pastures would, too, would be impossible to be properly redone.”

An Assessment of the Environmental Impact Study for Roşia Montană Project with emphasis on biodiversity, Dr. Jozsef Szabo – Coordinator, John Akeroyd, Andrew Jones, Robert Geczi, Bodis Katalin – authors

Some of the most important floristic elements are represented by 8 species of pasture orchids of which 6 are endangered (Anacamptis pyramidalis, Gymnadenia conopsea, Orchis coriophora, Orchis ustulata, Platanthera bifolia, Traunsteinera globosa).

7. Fauna
The results of independent studies proves “the extraordinary value of the are in terms of biodiversity and draw attention to the wealth/richness of the natural heritage of Roşia Montană, that deserve to be exhaustively studied in relationship with all the environmental elments and, undoubtedly, it shoul be preserved.”

The list of vertebrates in Roşia Montană is rich in species, and most of them are protected both within the country and in the European Union. In the next years, Romania will be required to report to the EU and to other international forums that it managed to stop the biodiversity decline/the decline of the biodiversity on its territory. Moreover, Romania has priority in many species, with the majoritarian populations in Europe, such as the bear or the wolf. Romania’s obligation is to preserve these species for the future generations.

An Assessment of the Environmental Impact Study for Roşia Montană Project with emphasis on biodiversity, Dr. Jozsef Szabo – Coordinator, John Akeroyd, Andrew Jones, Robert Geczi, Bodis Katalin – authors

The study led by Dr. Jozsef Szabo identified:

  • – 37 species of vertebrates
  • – 7 mammal species whose protection requires designation of protected areas (Natura 2000); two of the are priority species in Europe (Lutra lutra, Ursus arctos);
  • – 8 species of Community Interest – requiring strict protection;
  • – a species of National Interest – which requires strict protection;
  • – two species of Community Importance whose exploitation is subject to some management plans;
  • – 8 species of National Importance whose exploitation requires management plans.

Following the same independent study there were observed 91 species of birds associated with agricultural or forest areas. All species are protected by law, and only a few of them have the status of “game”.

In the Roşia Montană area were observed 22 species of reptiles and amphibians. All species of reptiles and amphibians in the country are protected.

The large size of the underground systems in Roşia Montană and the lack of natural cavities in the region makes these mining galleries a unique shelter for bats. A group of specialists from the Romanian Association of Bat Protection conducted a field research in the mining galleries from Roşia Montană, identifying nine species of bats.

All species of bats are protected under the Bern Convention, the Bonn Convention and on the Understanding concerning the Conservation of the Bats Populations (London, 1991), adopted by the Law 90/2000.

An Assessment of the Environmental Impact Study for Roşia Montană Project with emphasis on biodiversity, Dr. Jozsef Szabo – Coordinator, John Akeroyd, Andrew Jones, Robert Geczi, Bodis Katalin – authors

The most important species of mammals in the Roşia Montană are: bear, wolf, fox, otter, wild cat, lynx, squirrel, mole, rabbit and wild goat, field mouse, ferret, weasel.

The invertebrate fauna of the area was studied briefly in the fall of 2004, from September 19 to 26, as part of the Summer University of Protection of Nature (12 species of ants, 9 species of  spiders, 13 species of mollusks).

Find the experts’ critical analysis of Roşia Montană Gold Corporation’s Environmental Impact Study (in Romanian) here:

The protected natural patrimony of Roşia Montană is represented by two rare geological formations and an aven:  Piatra Despicată (The Cleft Stone), Piatra Corbului (The Raven Stone) and The Aven from Hoanca Urzicarului.

“The fascinating interplay of the rich cultural heritage with elements of spirituality in a natural setting specific to the Apuseni Mountains transform this settlement in a treasure of the universal patrimony.”

The Raven Stone –  declared a “monument of nature” in 1969, is a massif made of a rock called dacite breccia, located at an altitude of 950m on the southern slope of Cârnic mountain, placed within a protected area of 5 hectares.

Within this massif took place Daco-Roman works fire, water and vinegar in order to crack the rock and expose the gold.

The name of the monument comes from the shape of the stone, suggesting a raven’s head, but also from the fact that the area is home for many ravens.

The Cleft Stone – declared a “natural monument” in 1954, is a geological composition is different by the geology of the area.

It is an andesite block of several tons located over the dacite rock of Cârnic Massif . It is believed to have gained its present position after a volcanic explosion during the last phase of the Neogene around 15 – 20 million years ago.

The Aven of Hoanca Urzicarului
Located near the village of Vârtop is one of the largest and deepest potholes in the country.

The pothole is a natural cavity with predominantly vertical development, formed in soluble rocks (limestone).

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