A short legend
Some say Mercheasa was not chosen randomly by the mighty oaks to grow here. Legends talk about a moment in history when giants used to roam free in these lands, hidden from the human eye. There were not that many people around also, back in the days when forests used to spread from shore to shore on the European continent. One day a giant that was passing through the village of Mirkavasar, came through at night and tripped over the bell tower, spilling some of its special giant seeds on the surrounding pasture. Eventually the seeds would grow and capture the essence of these lands, they will see the rise and the fall of empires, they will listen to people stories quietly, and lather on they will become the old oaks that they are today, inspiring me to envision their story, and try to come up with a make-shit legend.
A natural reservation
Leaving the legend aside, the estimated age of 500 old oaks that inhabit the pasture surrounding Mercheasa, vary from 400 years old up to 930 years old. The Carpathian Elder, the oldest of them all is a natural monument and is the symbol of the entire man-made ecosystem of hay pastures and old oaks. A really inspiring work to comprehend the entire pasture has been done by some really passionate biologists including Dr. Tiobor Hartel, a university professor from Cluj. He dedicated a lot of time in visiting and documenting the pasture from Mercheasa which is considered after all the research that has been done, to be one of the largest of its kind in Europe. His work has been done also with international aid, with collaborations from English biologists that also look up to the value found here. The entire old oak pasture is documented on the https://arboriremarcabili.ro/en/map-and-trees/show-map/ website.
There are numerous visits from worldwide biologists that come to study the area of Mercheasa and to discover its importance. Some of them recognize the generosity of the local DNA and collect the acorns to be studied and planted in other areas where the Quercus Robur and Quercus Petraea might flourish in such a stunning way, as in Mercheasa.
One of the directions of the environmental agencies from the area is to decide if granting the area the status of reservation will guarantee ecological continuity or it will reverse the effects of grazing and man made pastures, considered the essence triangle in forming the present ecosystem. There is also a debate of how building a reservation will be achieved and managed, considering the bureaucratic challenges.
For the passionate, the best way of visiting the entire pasture is by foot or by bike. Taking a guided tour on an ebike is maybe a new idea that first of all has to settle into a persons mind as the best way to do a tour of the pasture. The way it feels when you are for the first time on the pasture is similar to walking into a Gothic cemetery. You are surrounded by hundreds of “tombstones”, all the oaks have their own story to tell, they give you a feeling of imposed respect knowing the age and doing a quick scan of its bark and branches. The comparison with a cemetery is not accidental, the rotten heart on most of the oaks shows their tendency to keep an apparent life while actually being dead on the inside.
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