Coming Back To Life
The landscape of the Great Hungarian Plain has changed dramatically over the last five hundred years. This was not due to climate change. On the contrary the changes have been caused by man.
Before the Ottoman Turkish occupation beginning in the 16th century the region was heavily forested and marshy. During the century and a half following the Turkish arrival, the landscape was denuded of forests as both armies and villagers sought timber to build fortifications. The Turks also burnt many of the forests in an attempt to root out partisans. The land soon turned into impenetrable marsh.
Due to the lack of vegetation the soil became depleted. In the 18th and 19th centuries man made change took a more positive turn as marshes were drained and the area resettled. The rivers were straightened to combat flooding.
The landscape of endless grass and cropland you see today is radically different from the forests of long ago.
Entering the area in and around the small town of Szarvas you will notice that the town sits on the banks of a watercourse. This is a backwater of the Kőrös River created during regulation of the river during the 19th century. Such backwaters were once natural and scattered throughout the Great Hungarian Plain.
Today they are much rarer. The changes wrought by man have recreated this land anew.
Speaking of a recreation, it is on the edge of Szarvas where you will find a manmade creation where nature has taken hold and produced incredible biodiversity. The Szarvas Arboretum also lies on a backwater of the Kőrös, known as Kákafok Horseshoe Lake.
First begun in the 18th century by the Italian Pal “Pepi” Bolza, the Arboretum’s most famous area is known as the Pepi Garden. He wanted to recreate the grounds of Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna.
It certainly seems to have met that goal. Here you will find over 1,600 species of flora and fauna. Enjoy strolling through the forest where hundreds of conifers and oaks shade your pathway. Take some time to listen to this forest.
The voices of birds sing, the wind whistles through the trees and before your eyes an enchanting world springs to life. It leads you to believe that this landscape is natural, that it has been here all along. Perhaps it once was back when the Great Hungarian Plain was a very different place.
At the Szarvas Arborétum, that past has come back to life.
written by CHRIS WILKINSON
edited by CHRIS KOVACS
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