Mátra Protected Landscape Area

Mátra Protected Landscape Area

Declaration of protection: 1985

Area: 11,841 ha

Basic data:

The Mátra Protected Landscape Area was declared protected in 1985 an area of about 12,000 hectares it in Heves County and a smaller part in Nógrád County. It includes the smaller western and larger eastern parts of Mátra mountain range, avoiding the busy residential and holiday settlements. The smaller area of Ágasvár, the part of Mátrabérc that is still worth protecting, the other block of Kékes is Keleti – Mátra, a larger, contiguous area rich in natural values. The protected landscape covers the administrative area of 12 settlements (Bátonyterenye, Domoszló, Gyöngyös, Gyöngyössolymos, Kisnána, Markaz, Mátraszentimre, Parád, Parádsasvár, Pásztó, Recsk, Sirok).

Geographical features, geological structure, hydrography

The climate of the mountain range is quite different from the national data due to its special geographical location and weather conditions. Due to the relatively large relative differences in altitude (400-900 meters), the climate is temperate-mountainous. The microclimate mosaics are formed due to the strong horizontal and vertical division of the mountain range, which is made even more diverse by the effect of the forested area. The favorable climatic conditions in the mountain range offer significant medical and health resort opportunities, which the health resorts built in the 1930s - Kékestetó, Mátraháza, Parádfürdő - make use of. Mátra Mountain , which is part of the Central Mountains of Northern Hungary, belongs to the inner volcanic zone of the Carpathians. The main mass of the mountain range is made up of a stratovolcano assemblage of Miocene age (20–13 million years old), mostly consisting of andesite, andesite tuff and andesite agglomerate, several hundreds of meters thick, which was then significantly altered by structural movements. The whole volcanic block tilted towards the south already in the early stages of its operation and started to rise on one side. Finally, its characteristic morphology was formed due to the destructive effect of surface-shaping forces. Special formations have been carved out of the volcanic rock on the mountaintops. The rock walls, stone bastions, debris fields and seas of stones in their foreground were formed during the Ice Age, as a result of the frost shattering the rocks. Csörgő-lyuk cave is the longest (370 m) cave formed in non-karst rock in Hungary. In periods of pauses in the volcanic activity and after its termination, strong postvolcanic activity took place and which rich ore deposits were created as a result in Gyöngyösoroszi, Mátraszentimre, Parád and Recsk areas. Thanks to the volcanic aftermath, there are many sulfur-hydrogen and carbon dioxide springs (so-called “Csevice”) in the mountains, such like the Szent István spring in Parádfürdő (Ilona Valley), the Klarissza spring in Parádóhuta, and the springs in the area of Mátraderecske and Parádsasvár. Mátra is rich in springs and streams, we know about 360 springs. Their water yield varies, largely depends on the amount of precipitation, and the yield of 47 sources reaches 10 l/min. Two rivers, the Zagyva and the Tarna, which can be considered the western and eastern borders of the mountain range, transport the waters of numerous Mátra watercourses to the Tisza. 62 tributaries of the Zagyva and 46 of the Tarna originate from the Mátra. These form the small watercourses of the area. Most of the small watercourses are characterized by a large drop. In time of the spring snowmelting and summer rains streams deliver a large amount of sediment, and in dry weather some of them dries up.

Social characteristics:

Mátra can be considered a well-explored area from the point of view of transportation. Both the Gyöngyös - Parád and the Mátraháza - Galyatető - Hasznos public roads have heavy traffic. People of the mountain settlements, the "holy villages" (Mátraszentimre and its sub-settlements) base their livelihood primarily on tourism, therefore the development needs and ideas appearing here place a significant burden on the nature conservation manager.


Forestry is the most significant branch of management in Mátra. Since the Middle Ages, the forests here have been marked by the satisfaction of human needs. In addition to the need for firewood, building wood, and serrated wood, the production of potash for glass production resulted in the formation of the current forest landscape (large, continuous, same-age, uneven forests) in many places. In the southern peripheral areas, fruit cultivation is carried out, mainly viticulture. At the beginning of the century, the cultivation was carried out with heavy physical work, weeding with a hand hoe, and the grapes were harvested and pressed by hand. Mechanized viticulture has changed the landscape of vineyards. Small-scale cultivation was replaced by large-scale farming. The settlements of Southern Mátra (Markaz, Domoszló, Kisnána) primarily exploit the economic opportunities based on the vineyards and village and wine tourism. Animal husbandry was primarily based on cattle on the north side of the Mátra, while on the south side it was based on sheep.

Natural values


Mátra is a wooded landscape with diverse forest communities. Its most characteristic forest associations are Turkey-oak and oak forests. At an altitude of 550 m in the north and 650 m in the south, the Turkey-oak trees are replaced by oaks and beech trees. Above 900 m, high mountain beechwood can be found on the northern slopes of Kékes, Galyatető and Piszkéstető. On the coolder northern slopes of Mátra, several alpine species find habitat. The most beautiful beech forest association on the northern side of Kékes provides a habitat for many rare plant species. The Forest Reserve Area has been designated in this old, seminatural beech forest here, where the diverse tree structure and natural dynamics processes of the forest can be studied in full cycle. The red-flowered, thornless mountain rose (Rosa pendulina), the peacock-tailed salmon seal(Polygonatum verticillare) live here. On the northern sides, linden debris-slope forests and gorge forests indicate the specific microclimate. Their plant rarities are the buglewort (Cimicifuga europaea), the blue-flowered, summer-blooming mountain sedge (Clematis alpina), the forest moon violet (Lunaria rediviva) the characteristic plant of stony places, or the three-leaved catnip (Valeriana tripteris). Several protected species of ferns live here, the hairy kidney fern (Polystichum braunii), the lobed kidney fern (Polystichum aculeatum) and the alpine mountain fern (Woodsia alpina), which only lives here in our country., The purple fescue (Festuca amethystina) lives on the ridges extending to the north and can be considered a relic of the Ice Age This is it’S only habitat in the north-eastern mountains, the next closest habitat is in the Buda Mountains. The northern sedge (Asplenium septentrionale)with winter-hardy leaves, the sedge grass (Saxifraga paniculata) with its gray leaves and white or pinkish fringes, around 30 cm in height, the yellow stone rose (Jovibarba hirta) and the crow skin species settle down in the gaps of the rocks in Mátra, the low-growing rock sedge (Alyssum saxatile) only occurs on the rock face of Gazoskő. On the andesite rocks with thin fertile soil, an open rock lawn develops, on the thickening soil, the gradually closed rock lawn grows with stands of rock fescue (Festuca pseudodalmatica) and Hungarian sedge (Poa pannonica subsp. scabra). The rock lawn associations are adjacent to pearly shrubs. The eponymous plant, Spiraea media, forms 1-meter-high, hard-to-penetrate thickets, in which the Mátra bird quince (Cotoneaster matrensis) is also at home. Pastures, then mowing fields, and now species-rich mountain meadows, red fescue, three-toothed grass, hairy grass, and blue-finned bogs have formed in the place of the deforestation. Gentiana pneumonanthe, black anemone (Pulsatilla pratensis subsp. nigricans), Siberian iris (Iris sibirica) and traunsteinera globosa can be found here. The protected specialty of the spring bogs and the small watercourses accompanying them is the mountain sedge (Poa remota), all of which can be found only in Mátra in Hungary, on the southern forecourt of the Galya, and at the northern foot of the Kékes block. Also associated with these habitats are the flesh-colored primrose (Dactylorhiza incarnata), the forest primrose (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) and the primrose (Primula elatior). The checkered lily (Fritillaria meleagris) blooms in spring in its only habitat in Mátra, a Turkey-oak forest covered with water.


Among the snails, some rare species preserve the memory of the Ice Age climate: they survived in cold microclimatic corners, surviving the warmer, drier periods. One such species is, for example, the brown disk snail (Discus ruderatus), which is one of the characteristic snail species of the old mountain beech. The diurnal butterflies are the most spectacular ones in the higher class of invertebrates. The eastern pearl moth (Argynnis laodice) reaches the limit of its distribution in the stream valleys of the Mátra Mountains. This elegant butterfly species no longer occurs west of Mátra. The decorative diurnal butterfly of the dry rocky shrubs is the large white-banded butterfly (Neptis rivularis). Its food plant is the syrti pearl cane (Spiraea media). Among the species of nocturnal butterflies, the highly protected Anker's butterfly (Erannis ankeraria) can be mentioned, the largest population of which in Hungary can be found in Mátra. An interesting member of our butterfly fauna is the tawny owl (Rileyiana fovea), which is found in heat-loving oaks and makes a characteristic chirping sound while flying. The larva of the mountain dragonfly (Cordulegaster bidentata) develops in the cold water streams of Mátra. The black-and-yellow imag prefers the stream sections above 700 meters, where the forest closes above the stream. Among the species of beetles associated with dead wood, it is important to highlight the occurrence of the highly protected hermit beetle (Osmoderma eremita) or the blue beetle (Limoniscus violaceus). Among the amphibian species of Mátra, the highly protected alpine newt (Triturus alpestris) or the yellow-bellied frog (Bombina variegata), the forest and meadow frog (Rana dalmatina, R. temporaria) and the spectacular spotted salamander (Salamandra salamandra) deserve mention. The most valuable and smallest reptile species of Mátra is the pannony lizard (Ablepharus kitaibelii), which finds its habitat in less enclosed heat-loving oak forests or bush forests. The large area of closed forests and the surrounding fringe areas have a very rich bird life. The list of nesting species includes several highly protected species. One of the largest European eagles is the eastern imperial eagle (Aquila heliaca), which is our strictly protected nesting bird. The smaller lesser spotted eagle(Aquila pomarina) also nests sporadically. In addition to the common buzzard (Buteo buteo), the European honey buzzard (Pernis apivorus) and the rarer Short-toed Snake Eagle (Circäetus gallicus) nest sporadically. Among the owls, the eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) and the Ural owl (Strix uralensis) represent the greatest zoological value. The white-backed woodpecker (Dendrocopos leucotos) is a rare bird species in beech forests rich in dead wood. The black stork (Ciconia nigra) is a valuable color spot in the continuous, closed, undisturbed old forests. Many protected mammal species also find habitat in Mátra. Many bat species have shelter in the rotten tree trunks of old, deciduous forests, so the protection of these tree species need special attention in forest management work. Mine shafts and reservoirs left behind after ore exploration are important habitats of Mátra. One of the most important long-winged bats (Miniopterus schreibersi) in the Northern Central Mountains can be found here, which forms a colony with about 3-4,000 common bats (Myotis myotis).

Cultural historical values:

Mátra and its surroundings were already inhabited in BC. This is evidenced by the stone, copper and bronze tools discovered mostly near the settlements at the southern foot of the mountains. One can find fortified settlements and prehistoric earth forts from the early, middle and late Bronze Age (e.g. Ágasvár, Óvár) in many places of Mátra. An important find from a later period is the one discovered in Gyöngyös in 1907 B.C. ARC. century Scythian urn cemetery and the extensive Avar cemetery in Nagyréde. The Middle Ages was a period of intensive fortress construction. Several of these fortresses are located on the territory of earlier, prehistoric ones. The earliest fortress mentioned in the Anonymus-gesta was builted in the 13th century in Gyöngyöspata, but we do not have written records of many fortesses also dated to the Árpád clan period by the archaeological findings. From the 14-15. century we can already find references to the Mátra fortresses (e.g. Oroszlánvár, Hasznos, Bene) in numerous documents, the importance of which began to decrease during the period of Turkish reign. From the 1700s, the population of the surrounding settlements have been carried away their walls as building material, so today we can find wall remains in only a few places.

Nature Conservation in Practice

Habitat Management

The management of Mátra mountain meadows is perhaps the most significant among the nature conservation management tasks. The formation of the mountain meadows is of anthropogenic origin, they arose as a result of deforestations 200-250 years ago, when the wood of the forests was largely used by glass huts, and then the resulting cutting areas were used for mowing or grazing. We carry out meadow management (reconstruction and maintenance) works in the administrative area of Mátraszentimre and Parád settlements, on an area of approximately 60 ha. These works are in different phases, in some areas, after the manual and machine clearing of bushes, stalk crushing is still going on. Other areas, on the other hand, are already suitable for mowing. Interventions are only carried out in order to increase the structural diversity in the native forest stands under the asset management of the directorate, on the other hand, in the forest area with non-native tree species, their transformation and replacement with native tree species has begun. An important part of our tasks is the reduction of invasive species that spread aggressively, partly by mechanical methods (even mowing several times a year, e.g. in the case of hybrid Japanese bitter gourd), partly by chemical control (drilling-injection treatment of acacia).

Species conservation

We know of several significant amphibian breeding sites in the Mátra. Important, perhaps the most important breeding sites are the water reservoirs (Csórrét, Haszó, Köszörű-Völgy). Their amphibian fauna is defined by species that are generally distributed in the North Central Mountains (spotted newt, brown toad, grass frog, wood frog, tree frog). As a long-term solution to avoid destruction caused by motor vehicle traffic, concrete diversion ditches and amphibious crossings were built in 2015 along the public road sides in Sás-tó and Hasznos. An old, well-proven method of practical bird protection is the placement of nesting burrows and nesting boxes to appropriate habitats. With the reduction of natural nesting places for many species, this is the only way we can help reduce population decline. As part of the program, we promote the settlement of songbirds, various species of owls, and ospreys by installing burrows and artificial nests for large species of birds of prey. In part, we aim to protect the geological values by preserving and reconstructing the mine deposits in Mátra, but this also serves to ensure the habitat of the bat colonies that live here.

Nature conservation problems:

The formation of Mátra's current forest landscape is the result of human intervention. As a result of glass huts, charcoal burning, and potash cooking, a huge amount of wood was extracted, which led to a declination in biodiversity and in our forested areas. Unfortunately, nowadays the cutting-mode forest management is influenced by economic interests in mind, which is strongly opposed to nature conservation efforts. However, in small and large areas, in several places of Mátra, for example, in the forest block at Parád village, we can meet forest management methods in balance with nature conservation interest. The goal in long term is to ensure continuous forest cover in these areas, the essence of which is to use the appearance and growth of natural regeneration to treat the forests with gradual, gradual felling, leaving space for natural processes, the dynamic functioning of forest patches that collapse and then regenerate in places, as well as dead trees, for organisms that prefer diverse habitats. Currently, one of the biggest problems in addition to the clear-cut forest management method is the overstocked game population, which, in addition to its harmful effects on sensitive places and plants (digging, trampling, chewing), makes difficulties in natural forest regeneration methods and contributes greatly to an equally harmful process, the spreading of invasive plants, and even to the destruction of the soil in some places and as a result, even to the fall of trees.

Tourist investments (ski resort developments, negative effects of snow machines, etc.), the increasing occupation of land by other constructions, various technical sports and excessive, concentrated tourism are increasingly threatening the remaining seminatural habitats.

Research, education

The scientific exploration of Mátra Mountains goes back about three centuries. The first written mention of gold mining in Heves County dates from 1700. More detailed geological and wildlife data can be found in Mátyás Bél's work. Description of Heves County (1730-1735). From the 1800s, it is important to mention the name of Pál Kitaibel nature scientist, who visited Mátra several times during his travels. His diaries provide data on geological values (minerals, medicinal waters), flora and fauna, and even fungies. A more detailed botanical and zoological survey of the Mátra began in the first half of the 20th century, and in the spring of 1977, a detailed survey of the landscape began with the participation of 34 researchers within the framework of the "Natural Image of the North Central Mountains" program. The Bükki National Park Administration started preparing the vegetation map of protected areas in 2006, which is part of the research that establishes the nature conservation management. Nowadays, we carry out detailed research on several previously unstudied or little-studied groups, mainly invertebrates, which, in addition to the discovery of new species, contribute to the development of nature conservation management proposals and regulations. Among the xylophage and saproxylophage beetle species, there are many species with significant conservation value. These are listed in large numbers on both the various European and domestic protection lists. The aim of the investigations carried out since 2009 is to increase the data of these species, and based on the obtained data, to develop nature conservation management proposals for forest planning. Research has confirmed that the preservation of these species requires -among other things- the presence of old forest stands, many dead trees in various stages of decay, and mixed tree species. In recent years, soil zoological studies have also been started in Mátra, which are partly aimed to explore the spider and ground beetle fauna, and partly to monitor grazing in the protected area. Among the arthropods, it is also worth mentioning the examination of the species of butterflies, wasps and dragonflies. As part of nature conservation management, we play a significant role in environmental education, enforcing awareness for nature, and knowledge dissemination. We promote the nature conservation values of the region on our special open days (Bird and Tree Day, Earth Day, etc.) with various thematic presentations for people who interested, we visit schools with lectures, or on guided tours.

Visit the Mátra Protected Landscape Area

The entire area of the landscape protection area can be visited freely on the marked tourist roads, but it is forbidden to deviate from the signed trails in the protected areas. Certain habitats of special value can only be visited with special permission. The public roads passing through the landscape protection area can be used by motor vehicle without restriction. The narrow paved and unpaved roads in the forests are the work roads of the forestry company, driving in only by the permission of the nature conservation authority and the relevant forest company. Bicycles allowed in forests only on marked MTB cycle paths.