Sponsored by:
Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt & European Commission DG Environment

Interns & Volunteers


We are very happy about the support of the following people:

Simone Leitmann
ERASMUS trainee Sept. - Dec. 2014

Student in the department of sustainable economic development
office AT mozaic-romania.org

"My name is Simone Leitmann and I'm pursuing undergraduate studies in Politics and Economics at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany. In the MOZAIC Association, I'm carrying out a three-month ERASMUS internship. During that time, I live near Cluj in the beautiful village Luna de Jos with Family Rus, who are running a subsistence farm, what is quite typical for this region.

Until the end of November I will do a research concerning the development possibilities of the green basket and agri/ecotourism approach, but above all about how the local population feels about these ideas.

The topics are quite known nowadays: In order to create an additional income for the locals, thus supporting the small farmers to stay in the villages, it could be an option, to sell some of their products in a "green basket" directly to interested people who normally don't have the chance to buy such high quality food.

The vegetables, fruits, milk, bread and so on are produced in a traditional way and in small quantity, in season and sometimes even organically. The necessity of supporting traditional farming and small to medium sized farms results of their immanent contribution to maintaining the biodiversity and beauty of the rural landscape.

Another possibility of rural economic development could be to show the remaining farmers that their knowledge, hard work and contribution to the cultural and natural heritage is highly appreciated by people interested in a sustainable tourism. Hosting tourists or teaching interested people (from abroad) how life in rural areas works could create a base of fundamental understanding about the value of sustainable food-production and self-sufficient lifestyle.

The question is, if these ideas can prosper in the rural areas (of Romania) and how motivated the local people are to follow this path. Transylvania is a region that is rich in culture, history, wildlife and biodiversity, but is also facing many problems that are threatening its valuable heritage, for example the rural exodus of the young or decline of agriculture, especially cattle breeding.

The interviews I'm going to carry out with the support of Cosmin Ivascu (PhD student at Babes-Bolyai University Cluj, Faculty of Biology and Geology) are ment to be an information source for the inhabitants of the communes Dabaca and Borsa, but also a possible basis for future projects of rural development."

Claire Wolff & Beatrice Biro
Volunteers October/November 2014

clairebea AT uni-muenster.de


Ecosystem services in a traditional Transylvanian cultural landscape

"Are you proud of your village and its surroundings? What do you do when you are out in the countryside?  Do you consider the mediul înconjurător beautiful? "- These are just some of the questions inhabitants of Luna de Jos answered during our three week stay in the wonderful Transylvanian countryside near Cluj-Napoca. We, Beatrice and Claire, are students from the University of Münster, situated in the north west of Germany. In October/November 2014 we went to Romania in order to gather data for our research project, which is part of our master program in landscape ecology.

Over the last years, we have been concerned with different branches of landscape ecology, especially botanics, but given the opportunity to freely choose a research topic, we both wanted to start exploring a new field, namely socio-ecology. As Beatrice has already been involved with the Mozaic Association we decided to locate our project in Luna de Jos. The topic of our project is ecosystem services with a focus on cultural services.

Ecosystem services (ES) are the benefits that people get from the ecosystem they live in. These benefits can be material, like wood, food, water etc., or non-material like recreation, aesthetic value, social value and others. The latter ones are those so-called cultural services we were so interested in.

Some researchers say that if you want to preserve a traditional landscape where links between nature and people have evolved over long periods of time, you have to respect those links and if necessary reinstate new ones. Those links are, on one hand, the land use techniques employed by humans and, on the other hand, the direct ecosystem services humans get in return from nature. Consequently, in order to preserve a particular socio-ecological system you have to identify present ES and ideally find possible new ones. It is said that with the knowledge of the ES the protection/management of this ecosystem can be performed more efficiently. Furthermore, the knowledge of the ES should lead to fewer conflicts between the different interest groups involved in this ecosystem, e.g. farmers, villagers, conservationists and others. Thus, the interests of all of the stakeholders would be more respected in the process.

This paradigm really caught our attention. As the species diversity of the Transylvanian landscape is of great importance for whole Europe and as this region is often taken as an example for an intact cultural landscape, we want to unveil which ecosystem services are present according to the inhabitants. Hence, we did semi structured interviews with focus on cultural services. Cultural services are more "threatened," and once lost they cannot be easily replaced.

During our stay, we visited and interviewed a range of inhabitants of Luna de Jos from all walks of life. Our informants include different age groups, male and female inhabitants and people from different occupational groups. We were always received very friendly and it was a pleasure to do the interviews in such a nice atmosphere! Currently we are processing and analyzing our data and hopefully we will be able to present you some interesting results in 2015!

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