Hortobágy National Park

Hortobágy National Park



Location: Hajdú-Bihar county Map

Area: 800 km²


Description of Hortobagy National Park

Hortobagy National Park is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve situated in a Hajdú-Bihar county in Hungary. Hortobagy National Park covers an area of 800 km². Every year the plains of the protected area is flooded by river Tisza turning this land into a fertile ground for Hungarian Grey Cattle. Huge herds were rounded up by Hungarian version of cowboys who became famous for their horseback riding skills and unique outfits. Unfortunately a dam was constructed in the area of Hortobagy National Park in 1846. This stopped regular flooding of the plains and greatly affected biosphere of the region as well as regular peasants. Only in the 50's of the last century some attempts to restore previous biodiversity and way of life were initiated. Many channels were dug to create alternative routes for deliverance of water to the region. It yielded good results. Now over 350 species of birds come back to the protected wetlands of Hortobagy National Park to nest here and raise their young.


Its area of ​​operation includes Hajdú-Bihar, Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok, and Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg counties, as well as the small slice of Lake Tisza in Heves county (Lake Tisza bird sanctuary).

The Hortobágy National Park Directorate is located in the nature conservation management of the largest grassy steppe in Central Europe, the national park in Hortobágy, 4 landscape protection districts and 19 independent nature conservation areas. The entire area of ​​the national park is a biosphere reserve, under the Ramsar Convention, its aquatic habitats

the Hortobágyi-Halastó
Pentezug-puszta (Wildlife Sanctuary)
Angel's House-plain
the Egyek-Pusztakócsi swamps
the northern part of Lake Tisza (Lake Tisza Bird Sanctuary)
the central part of Lake Tisza (Poroszló Basin)
Work chapel
they are also protected internationally. Here, hunting of water birds is prohibited all year round.

The Hortobágy is a landscape that is endowed with its unique history, valuable wildlife and unique folk tradition with characteristic Hungarian features. The former wooded steppe was still under the influence of the Tisza adventuring in the Great Plain a few hundred years ago. Man played a decisive role in the formation of the landscape. Today's image was formed with the water management of the 19th century (regulation of rivers, drainage of swamps), grazing livestock, deforestation and burning of forests, the effect of which evokes the atmosphere of the eastern steppes. The names of the once flourishing settlements, which were destroyed during the Turkish occupation, are preserved by the names of wilderness parts.

The surface of the Hortobágy was shaped by the floods of the Tisza and its tributaries into an almost perfect plain. Viewed from above, the landscape is like a huge carpet, in the middle the Hortobágy River meanders like a silver ribbon. The area of ​​the national park is flat, only in some places low mounds stand out. These so-called kunhalmas (scientifically known as kurgans) were formed by human hands, built by guard nomads from the eastern steppes in the Middle Copper Age as guard hills or burial sites (mound tombs).

The swamps of the Hortobágy do not come from the changes of the Tisza, but of the Sajó or Hernád riverbeds. Most of the sediment comes from Bükk and further north, not from the Tisza. The appearance of the Tisza in the area did not cause any significant change, so Hortobágy can be closely related to the Mezőség in Borsod, which was not affected by the appearance of the Tisza. The previously believed lateral erosion of the Tisza did not take place, the change of bed was a rapid process, the river did not sideways along the landscape, it did not fill it substantially, and not at the beginning of the Holocene, but approx. It occupied its course today, 20,000 years or more ago. According to measurements, Polgár has been around the current riverbed for at least 16,000 years.

Much of the area of ​​the national park is a saline-filled pasture covered with short grass, and only a small portion is arable land wedged in smaller patches. The rest of the countryside is made up of fishponds, swamps, backwaters and reeds. In addition, there are some settlements, roads and, to a lesser extent, forests (residual, planted, floodplain forests) in the area. There are four habitat types here:

saline steppes,
loess steppes,
The soil started to saline due to large drains and river regulations. Mineral salts precipitate from the water that evaporates from the soil and accumulate in the top layer of the soil. This significantly reduces soil fertility. The uppermost loose layer of saline soil degrades, for example, when exposed to rain, resulting in level differences of a few cm, the paddocks being flat. These small level differences are also of great importance for vegetation.

The stocks of loess steppes have survived on the kunhalmas. Habitats left on the Tiszacsege floodplain, which evoke the image before the regulation of the Tisza, remained.

Despite the fact that the Hortobágy is not a climatic steppe, due to its specific water balance, most of it is still covered by grassland associations. The flora of Hortobágy is colored by water lilies, buttercups, geraniums, water ruca joy and frog eggs. The dry steppe is adorned with saline asters and salt flowers.

Loess steppe grasslands
Remains of loess steppe meadows can be found on the flat ridges and mounds (Szálka-mound, Hip-mound, etc.) mostly covered with rock flour.

In this species-rich association it occurs en masse:
steppe fescue (Festuca rupicola),
Deres tarack wheat (Elymus hispidus),
curling orphan hair (Stipa capillata) (in places).


Different sage species are common:
sage (Salvia nemorosa),
Austrian sage (Salvia austriaca),
field sage (Salvia pratensis).

Other association species:
tarragon (Agropyron pectinatum),
common wine (Thalictrum minus).

Rare and valuable plants:
Hungarian carnation (Dianthus pontederae).
Dominant species of lesser species of loess pastures:
star lawn (Cynodon dactylon),
slender perch (Poa angustifolia),
lean cuckoo (Festuca pseudovina).
Saline steppes
Salt and drought tolerant plants live on salinized soils, typically on solonetz soils. Typical plants of such saline meadows are the saline asters (Aster tripolium ssp. Pannonicum) and the saline marsh (Peucedanum officinale). One of the guarantees of the survival of the saline steppes is the regular chewing and tipping of the grazing animals.

As the humus content of the soil decreases, the loess steppe grass is replaced by the grassy saline steppe.

Its main association plant
steppe yarrow (Achillea setacea),
sparrows (Festuca pseudovina).

Other species:
forked buttercup (Ranunculus pedatus).
On inferior saline soils, an earthy saline steppe forms. Major plants:
Festuca pseudovina (association-forming),
Salem worm (Artemisa marítima) (associate),
Hungarian salt flower (saline salt flower, Limonium gmelini ssp. hungaricum).
saliva (Festuca pseudovina),

Barren saline
On barren salines (depending on their water coverage), two major plant communities alternate:

Honeysuckle vegetation (Puccinellietum limosae) develops on water-level saline flats and solonetz soils. Humus A level is missing from its soil profile; salts accumulate on the surface. Only a few species can withstand high salinity; typically:
saline honeysuckle (Puccinellia limosa),
marsh mite (Eleocharis palustris),
Saxony (Juncus gerardii),
saline plantain (Plantago maritima),
snake tail (Pholiurus pannonicus),
Cress (Lepidium crassifolium),
St. John's wort (Myosurus minimus),
saline (Lotus tenuis),
Thin plantain (Plantago tenuiflora),
medical grass (chamomile, Matricaria recutita).
It “blinds” in the valleys of the swallows, on the extremely salty soil, and only the lamb shoots live on it.

Saline swamp and surroundings
The saline swamp of the Swallow Meadow is located in the deepest part of the steppe. Going out of the open water swamp, the following associations follow each other:
saline reeds,
saline poop,
caterpillar saline meadow (on poorer quality soils),
brush lawn saline meadow (right ground).

Saline oaks
The remnants of the saline oaks on the bare edge are the Ohati Forest and the Forbidden Forest in Újszentmargita. In spring, the dwarf almonds (Prunus tenella), spring starflowers and barley celtics (Corydalis cava) adorn the forest. Later, the veiled female petal (Iris spuria) and the Hungarian chamois flower (Doronicum hungaricum) open.

Carnations (Cucubalus baccifer) and hedgerows (Calystegia sepium), hedgehogs (Echinocystis lobata) live in the floodplains in the shade of old trees. In the backwaters, the protected cicada (Cicuta virosa), white water lily (Nymphaea alba) and watercress (Nuphar) occur. In the swampy, wetlands there are marsh (Carex elata), marsh stork (Caltha palustris), marsh female (Iris pseudacorus), in the deeper waters reed (Phragmites australis), tern (Trapa natans), rence, colocan (Stratoides aloides), Nymphoides peltata).

In the meadows hidden among the forests, the flowers of the black nightshade (Symphytum officinale), the yellow female petal (Iris pseudacorus), the meadow fescue (Clematis integrifolia) bloom in the spring, and the daisies on the banks of the Tisza (Leucanthemella serotina) bloom in late summer.

Floodplain forests and smaller round forests sporadically inside the wilderness are home to species-rich heron colonies, but are also famous for their rare birds of prey. Besides the blue vultures, a Saker falcon and an imperial eagle live here. The steppe buzzard nested here for the first time in Hungary.

The mounds of kurgans are inhabited by ground squirrels, quails, weasels and ermines. This is where our largest bird, the bustard, lives. The birds of the dry, grassy steppes are the quail, the captive, the capercaillies, the dwindling number of birds of the wet steppes are the barn owl, our bird rarity, the scorpion sparrow, nests on barren salines. The dreaded bird rarity of meadows is the striped-headed reed warbler.

Swamps and fishponds support a rich waterfowl world, with more than 330 species of birds living here. In spring and autumn, tens of thousands of migratory birds rest in the area, accompanied by rare birds of prey. Hortobágy is the largest "bird hostel" in the country. In autumn, the migration of cranes and wild geese can be observed.


Its open water surfaces are cormorants, brown meadowsweet, ducks, warts, sooty, bastard, and white-winged edifiers; they are favorable for red-necked and black-necked grebe, and in the shallower water reeds they spend a bull, a great egret, a spoonbill, a very rare bat, a summer goose and a large number of reed warblers. The treasures of the grove forests used to be mixed heron colonies, which have now moved to the reeds. Black storks and birds of prey also nest here. The bee and the kingfisher spend their time in the high banks of the Tisza.

In forests, fallen trees rot locally, providing living conditions for waiter species. The forest glider and the forest owl also occur here.

Farm animals
The importance of brittle animal husbandry has declined to this day, although the most important economic branch today is animal husbandry. Today, ancient Hungarian gray cattle gulls, rack mothers, mangalica, Hungarian half-breed horse breeds, imperial poultry breeds (Hungarian goose with ruffled feathers) and Hungarian shepherd dogs, pulit, pumi, mud are kept mainly for gene conservation and tourism reasons. the kuvasz and komondor. The kuvasz, the komondor, protected the accommodation, the flock the puli, the pumi, and the mudi.

Landscape Protection Areas
The Satu Mare-Bereg Landscape Protection Area was established in 1982 in the Satu Mare and Bereg plains. The mosaic-structured landscape protection area is located on the outskirts of 37 settlements, its center is located in Fehérgyarmat, in one place with a permanent exhibition presenting the values ​​of the area. It covers 22,246 hectares, of which 2,307 hectares enjoy enhanced protection. The area is home to the valuable wildlife of the Tisza, Szamos and Túr areas.

Central Tisza Landscape Protection Area
Searchtool right.svg Read more: Central Tisza Landscape Protection Area
The landscape protection area established in 1978 on the floodplain between Tiskza Kisköre and Tiszaug preserves the secondary landscape formed on 9,500 hectares in about a hundred years after the regulations. Within this, the Pély Bird Sanctuary, the Óballai and Vezsenyi Nature Reserve, and then the Tiszakécske Partifecske Telep are highly protected.

Hajdúság Landscape Protection Area
The hilly, wooded Hajdúság Landscape Protection Area was established in 1988 in 22 separate areas covering 7,000 ha. Its surface was formed by the northern winds of the last ice age, the so-called so-called. with parabolic mounds, between which there are depressions and valleys in the NE-SW direction. These wet, stagnant, “birch-water flats” may have formed in the later cool-wet period, and until the water level of today they provided shelter for the life of this former age even in the drier, warmer periods.

Bihari Plain Landscape Protection Area
The landscape protection area covers four landscape units, parts below Hajdúság, the cross-border area of ​​Érmellék, to the south the Bihari plain, the northern, undulating landscape of Berettyó, and to the west, the northern part of the former Nagy-Sárrét. Some of the protected areas of the Bihari plain evoke Hortobágy: a flat, dry, saline region for most of the year, with mosaic vegetation.

Nature reserves
Baktalórántházi Forest Nature Reserve
The forest lies to the west of Baktalórántháza, in a north-south direction, the contiguous forest covers more than 1,300 hectares, only part of which is protected.

Bátorliget Nature Reserve
In the area of ​​Bátorliget, there are currently 3 nature conservation areas of national importance and several wetlands, which are also considered protected.

Bihari Pasture Nature Reserve
Nature Conservation Area of ​​National Importance since 1986.

Much of the pasture area is dotted with saline, swampy and loess patches. There are several charged backwaters in the area.

Cégénydányád Castle Park Nature Reserve
Courtesy of the park builders, the magnificent tulip tree, sycamore, fern, lily tree, false cypress, yew tree, cyclamen blooms under the foliage.

Debrecen Great Forest Nature Reserve
It is the first nature conservation area in Hungary. In the undergrowth of its lily-flowered oak patches, the downy Celtic, the Hungarian female petal, the grove starflower and the Debrecen warbler also occur.

Egyek-pusztakócs swamps Nature Reserve: the remains of the once nearly ten thousand hectare swamp world with an educational trail.

Light Forest Nature Reserve
The diverse vegetation of the forest consists of oak-ash-elm grove forest, lily-of-the-valley oak, birch bog, steppe sand oak and interlocking sand lawn details.

Hajdúbagos Land Dog Reserve Nature Reserve
The reserve includes the most significant surviving habitat of an extinct land dog, already unknown to the north and west of here.


Hencidai Exchange Forest Nature Reserve
One of the beautiful representatives of the saline oak oaks that have dwindled to this day. In its spring flower flood we find the Hungarian chamois flower, greyhound wine and tuberous stone grass.

Lake Mohos Nature Reserve in Kállósemjén
The alternating open water surface of the lake willow and reed stands bordered by the sand hills. The lake, which has dried up in recent decades, needs to be reconstructed.

Kaszonyi Hill Nature Reserve
The southern half of the island volcano, which is mostly composed of rhyolite, falls on the border of the village of Barabás. Outstanding among the diverse values ​​of its area are the oak patches of silver linden-spear-armed oak.

Kecskeri Puszta Nature Reserve
The protected area includes a lake system surrounded by saline grasslands, with swamps on the west side that are rich in birdlife.

Tiszadobi Floodplain Nature Reserve
It is a weave of varied, fresh, mostly old floodplain forest patches and moths. Heron colony is of significant value.

Tiszadorogmai Göbe Forest Nature Reserve
It remains a beautiful piece of our once more extensive floodplain forests. In addition to the birdlife corresponding to the habitat, the flora of the Tisza, the horseradish of Debrecen and the corncrake are worth mentioning among its flora.

Tiszaigari Arboretum Nature Reserve
It is a rich collection of live trees, the most striking detail of which, in addition to its many attractions, is the large swampy cypress stock.

Tiszatelek-Tiszaberceli Floodplain Nature Reserve
It is a mosaic of soft and hard-walled groves, backwaters and meadows, famous notably for its large earlings.

Tiszavasvár White-Sikh Nature Reserve
It is the northernmost member of the Great Plain chain. Its value is given by its birdlife, but its presence depends on the current rainfall and groundwater conditions.

Lake Vaja Nature Reserve
Its values ​​are basically given by the floating bog and the plant rarities that occur on it, such as the crested shield, the largest domestic stock of which lives here, the onion peel, as well as the creeping nettle and the fibrous shield.

Zádor Bridge and Surroundings Nature Reserve
The oldest of the two most famous stone bridges in the Hortobágy area. It was originally nine-hole, too, but the great flood of 1830 swept away the two outer pillars of each, and has since been five-hole. It has been dry for a long time.