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  • 1 Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest
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All over the world, rural communities developed mainly stable and sustainable, traditional (extensive) land use systems to manage natural resources. Resource management and related traditional ecological knowledge based on understanding of the functioning of the ecosystem help local communities to maintain important resources, like forests. Forest plays an important socio-economic role in the life of rural communities. Wood is one of the most elemental raw materials used in households, but its non-timber benefits play just as important a role.

We examined sustainable use of forests in a Csángó community in Gyimes region (Eastern Carpathians, Romania), providing insights into attitudes within folk forestry towards natural resources, driving forces, and changes in human relations with the forest.

Wood as a raw material is a resource that largely determines the daily life of the Csángó community, while non-timber products (e.g., forest grazing, forest fruits, herbs) play a complementary, yet important role in Gyimes life. The survey of forest flora and vegetation confirms that Gyimes farmers are familiar with the plant species that reach significant coverage in the canopy, shrub and herbaceous layers, they are well versed in the forest types occurring in the landscape, their dynamics, their most characteristic stages in the succession after felling. Overuse is an undisputed and acknowledged part of the forest-management, threatens social-ecological system-flexibility. As long as natural systems are able to renew themselves (forests can regenerate), there is chance for the further use of this important resource and in a broader context there is chance for the survival of the local community as well.

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