A site of community importance

Due to its remarkable natural riches – the Toplița – Borsec Round Chair area was included in the Natura 2000 network and was declared a “Site of Community Importance”. The site is made up of two separate sections, located just East and West of Borsec, at a distance of approximately 2.5 km from one another. The area extends over 5,466 hectares, covering the entire Round Chair Natural Reserve.

In the area there is a rich vegetation of conifers, fossil flowers and rare plant species. To this there is an added variety of wild beasts, mountain bears, carpathian deer, deer, wolves, lashes, vipers, tritons, a multitude of species of mollusks and fish that draw attention to the former pliocene lakes. The greatest attraction of the area is represented by the richness of mineral water springs, which compliment the amazing landscapes.

Natural values. Karstic systems formed in travertine, alpine flora, rich hunting fauna

Quaternary deposits of travertine occupying an area of approximately 40 ha, affected by karstic processes, have shaped a series of caves and micro-canons.

The karst system in the Borsec depression includes a number of caves:

  • Round Chair, the longest cave in Romania formed in travertine;
  • Ice Cave, with a gallery length of 60 m;
  • Bear Grotto, a microchannel in the travertine resulting from the collapse of a cave, with its western branch, also called the Cerdac of Hell;
  • Cave of Izvoru Vechi

Geographical features: location, climate, relief, flora and fauna

From the biogeographical point of view, the Toplita - Round Chair is located in the Alpine Biogeographical Region and presents all the features of this bioregion (cold climate, forests and rocky peaks) providing the habitats suitable for the existence and protection of large carnivores.
Location and altitude

Site of Community Importance Toplita – The Borsec Round Chair is situated at high altitudes between 730 and 1,400 m, has an uneven appearance and, from a petrographical point of view, it is characteristic of the neo-volcanic formations of the Western Carpathians.

Subalpine climate

The climate of the whole area is subalpine. In the high area the winters are harsh and very cold with cool summers, but, in the lower part of the Borsec Depression the mountain ranges are protected against the strong winds, the climate being somewhat milder, and some local föhn effects.

Hydrographic network

Surface waters are mostly in the form of some mountain brooks and, sometimes, in the lower parts of the depressions are marshy. The rivers in the northwest and south of the area are collected through the local hydrographic network and are tributary to the Mureş River, and the northeastern rivers are tributary to the Bistrita River through Bistricioarei.


The soils of the area are vary greatly, depending on the lithological substrate, the vegetation under which they formed and the mountainous or depression area in which their genesis occurred. Characteristic are the brown-acid mountain soils of the forest, in varying degrees of podzolire, formed on neutral eruptive rocks or limestone, mountain ranges on heights.

Coniferous vegetation dominated by spruce forests

In Borsec Depression there are rare species and rich fossil flowers, identified in clay and marl with levantine and pleistocene coals.

The characteristic vegetation is coniferous, predominantly spruce forests (Piceaexcelsa) and less rarely fir (Albies alba) and beech (Fagus silvatica).

There is also grassland grassy vegetation and secondary mountain meadows, installed in place of spruce forests, where fescue (Festuca rubra v. Fallax), spiny (Nardus stricta) etc., as well as a vegetation of eutrophic and oligotrophic marshes ( Tinoave) with a characteristic vegetation (Sphagnum). There are some species of dwarf birch (Betula nana and Betula humilis), hazelnut (Alnus viridis) and yew (Taxus baccata).

Mountain beech forests are more frequently found in the southern part of the area (towards the Mureş River), along with pine, beech, birch, oak, hornbeam, rhododendron, etc. These include maple (Acer pseudoplatanus), Grassy species like hay (Heleboruspurpurascens), Honey of the bear (pulmonaria officinalis) , violet (Scilla bifolia) ,forest lily (Lillium martagon), anemone (Anemone transilvanica), Mountain peppers (Mountain Gallix Carpaticus) , render homage (Aconicum-moldavicum), honeysuckle (Lonicera xilosteum), Rabbit’s witch (Oxatis acetosella), gențienele flower (Getiana asclepiadea), sedge (Carex sp)., buttercup (Ranunculus acer), forget me not flower (Myczotis palustris ), wild basil (Prunella vulgaris), Field grass (Agroszis tenuis), wild clover (Trifoium pratense), trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), moss (Sphagnum spp)., ferns (Dripoteris filix mas) etc.

A diverse fauna, rich hunting fund

The cold climate, forests and rocky peaks of the area are a good habitat for a rich fauna: brown bear (Ursus arctos), Carpathian deer (Cervus elaphus carpaticus), deer (Capreolus capreolus), wolf (Canis lupus), boar (Sus scropha) , but also: wild cat (Felis silvestris), lynx (Lynx lynx), squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris), numerous bird species: the mountain rooster (Tetrao urogallus), the birch cock (Lyrurus tetrix), dormouse (Nucifraga casyocatactes), The fowl hawk (Accipiter nisus), ouzel (Turdus merula) and others, as well as various species of rodents, fish (Trout – Salmo trutta labrax m. Forio), reptiles (vipers or tritons), invertebrates (lepidoptera, insects) etc.

Economic Values. Sustainable development through balanced exploitation of mineral water resources

Mineral water bottling, the only industry with potential in the area that can be developed in accordance with the principles of sustainable development.

The declaration of a Natura 2000 site does not mean its isolation and the conviction of that area to economic autarchy. Economic, cultural and social interests in the area concerned are taken into account, allowing economic activities that are in the spirit of sustainable development and do not affect the favorable conservation status of the site. Moreover, it is considered that certain species and habitats of Community interest have emerged and have been sustained as a result of human activities of exploitation of natural resources and the locals take pride in being part of this European network being able to offer,at the same time, significant economic opportunities.

Integration and economic structure

The structure of the area’s economy is relatively unilaterally developed, typical of Harghita County, the main productive component being industry, followed by agriculture and services. As agriculture is largely subsistence and the tertiary sector is still in its infancy, we will focus mainly on the factors that determine the productivity of the industrial sector.

The site’s economic values consist of natural resources usable in industry, to which tourism can be added (although tourism infrastructure is currently underdeveloped to provide a stable income to the local community). Natural resources can be divided into two main categories, namely land resources (agricultural products, wood and other usable forest products) and underground resources (useful rocks and mineral waters).

Based on these resources, the main related industries, namely the mineral water bottling industry, the construction rock exploitation industry (especially travertine), and the wood processing industry have developed. It is probably obvious that the only one that can develop in accordance with the principles of sustainable development is the mineral water industry, due to the possibility of extracting it without damaging the environment.

Travertine exploitation was stopped a few years ago in the Borsec area due to the negative impact these mines had on the environment and mineral water sources. It is also known that raw wood processing is an important source of income for the Harghita population, unsustainable forest exploitation being a major threat to the Toplita – Borsec Round Chair.

Cultural values. Architecture and craftsmanship

The Borsec resort is a lively example of the 18th-19th-century balneal architecture, present both in existing villas and in springs protection pavilions.

In addition to the spa architecture, which is particularly important in the area due to the existence of numerous natural mineral water sources, we can also mention the following cultural values:

  • Crafts and the technique of using wood in construction, the best example being the typical wooden gates built in the 18th-19th centuries;
  • Religious architecture is characterized by a great variety due to the many cults that have developed in this area. It is also noted the construction techniques and materials used, consisting in both stone masonry and the use of brick or wood;
  • Civil architecture, represented by houses and mansions, made in both urban and rural areas, as a testimony to the way of life typical of the 18th-19th centuries.

The Romaqua Group Borsec - custodian of the Natura 2000 site

Natura 2000 is a program initiated by the European Union to preserve nature in different geographical areas. It has designated 383 sites of community importance and 148 special Aquifaunistic protection areas, including the Toplita – Borsec Round Chair. The project was born in order to preserve countless serene landscapes, while providing long-term protection to animal populations (especially large carnivores) in the area.

Site of Community Importance Toplita – Borsec Round Chair was assigned to Romaqua Group S.A. according to the Custody Convention concluded with the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

Topliţa Community Site – Borsec Round Chair (ROSCI0252) was established through OM no. 1964/2007 (Annex I) on the declaration of sites of Community importance as an integral part of the Natura 2000 ecological network in Romania, modified by OM no. 2387/2011. The second body of the Natura 2000 site ROSCI0252, located to the east of Borsec, with an area of 75 hectares, was declared a mixed reservation, IUCN IV category at the level of 2000, by Law no. 5/2000 (Annex I) on the approval of the National Territory Planning Plan – Section III – Protected Areas. This area corresponds to the surface of the Round Chair (Scaunul Rotund) reservation.