Budínský V. & Kubec J.: Improvement of Elbe River Navigability – How to Reach it in a Feasible Way?
The navigability of the Elbe River between the city of Ústí nad Labem and the Czech-German border (northern Bohemia) does not meet the requirements for reliable and modern river transport. The disadvantage is particularly serious in comparison with the neighboring German stretch of the river. The slope of the river in its Czech part is considerably higher and the depth of the channel is thus – to some extent – restricted. In order to solve the problem, the project of a weir/lock and dam in the town of Děčín was developed. Consequently, serious differences in opinions between technicians and environmentalists (ship transport v. environmental protection) have quickly emerged.
Meantime, the roots of the controversy became less clear. Nevertheless, the goal is – or at least would be - the same for both the groups, i.e. to save ship transport on the Elbe River in the Czech Republic from a possible collapse or even to allow its further development.
The main problem is the fact that the Děčín weir/lock and dam would change the recent character of the free-flowing river and thus affect nature and the landscape there. A possible solution is based on a reasonable reduction of the slope in some river sections. As a result, a certain concentration of the slope in two intermediate sections (and downgrading of the admissible draft in them) must be expected. The sections can be – nevertheless – bypassed by short canals with low lift locks, inter alia near the village of Malé Březno. In this way, the necessary improvement of the navigability can be reached without any weir or dam and with tolerable impacts on nature and the environment. In addition, the possible solution can improve the whole Czech stretch – while the weir/lock and dam in Děčín has only local range and – as a matter of fact – threatens a reasonable development of inland navigation.
Utinek D.: Coppice and Coppice-with-Standards Forest – Why and How?
Reasons for coppice and coppice-with-standards forest restoration are both biological (biological diversity conservation. maintenance of species and of their assemblages/communities/guilds preferring forests filled with light, management measures recommended for some habitats covered by oaks as the main wood species) and economical (advantageous for small or medium forest owners, low silvicultural operation costs, constant timber production in short intervals). The advantage of the above forest management measure increases as demands for renewable energy sources do.
When restoring the above forest management measure, it is necessary to cope with legal difficulties and obstacles, particularly with the ban to carry out coppicing or reproduction cutting in growths/stands younger than 80 years or with reducing other specific forest management measures necessary for maintaining biological diversity (making forest growths/stands less dense, etc.).
For conversion of the coppice and coppice-with-standards growths/stands from the current silvicultural system, it is necessary to develop a conversion plan following the above principles, highlighting the time schedule and the reason why the process is going to be implemented.
Birklen P. & Jarošek R.: Restoration of the Bílovka Rivulet in the Poodří/Odra River Basin Protected Landscape Area
The project entitled as Restoration of the Bílovka Rivulet in the Poodří/Odra River Basin Protected Landscape Area aimed at restoring the Bílovka Rivulet natural bed in the Poodří/Odra River Basin Protected Landscape Area (northern Moravia) and water regime in adjacent floodplain grasslands/meadows and floodplain forests.
On meadows, a meandering river bed reaching 2 300 meters in length was built. In the future, due to erosion caused by increasing discharges/flow rates and sediment deposit aggradation, it shall have a natural shape related to local conditions. During the increased discharges/flow rates and floods, water shall overflow the river banks and shall be flooded across adjacent meadows which is a phenomenon common in the Poodří/Odra River Basin. General water regime restoration in the landscape was also significantly supported by removing flood control dams and dikes, in total reaching 2 200 meters in length. Thus, the natural water retaining capacity of the area has been clearly improved. The project also included building a water partition facility on the weir, a fish ladder/fish pass and siphon between the Bílovka Rivulet and a fishpond race. The building activities were carried out by the Odra River Basin Management Authority, a state enterprise (owned by the Government) and financed from the European Union funds through the Operational Programme Environment of the Czech Republic (OPE).
Limrová A.: The Operational Programme Environment of the Czech Republic at the Turn of Two Programme Periods
The 2007-2013 programme period of the Operational Programme Environment of the Czech Republic (OPE) has been drawing to a close and the start of the new period for the years 2014-2020 is coming near. Currently, the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic (NCA) participates in the OPE as an expert entity pursuing its activities in the framework of Priority Area/Axes 6 and 1 (area of intervention 1.3.2), beginning with consultations arranged for the applicants, reception of the applications and their assessment, and ending with the issue of the opinion for the final statement and its follow-up checking. Since launching the programme, more than 7,000 applications have been received in Priority Area/Axis 6 (1.3.2 only dozens), 4,000 of which have been approved. Since 2010, preparations have been in progress to set the rules for drawing EU and investment funds in the 2014-2020 period, coordinated by the Ministry for Regional Development of the Czech Republic. In 2013, good progress was made on the preparations for the new OPE, which received a well-defined shape, including the priority areas/axes and a list of supported measures. In comparison with the 2007-2013 OPE, allocations in the new period will be cut by half, the content of the programme will be partly changed, the priority areas/axes will be combined, certain measures will no longer be supported (e.g., environmental education, groundwater drilling tests). Most processes are being digitalized, efforts are made to simplify and specify in greater detail the programme´s conditions so as to make them more friendly for the applicants. The role of NCA will be radically changed: the Agency is to become a mediating body for Priority Area/Axis 4 in the 2014-2020 Operational Programme Environment and, in addition to activities which NCA is pursuing under the current Operational Programme it will take over certain activities from the State Environmental Fund of the Czech Republic (SEFCR), such as double assessment of applications, assessment of the financial efficiency of projects, definition of eligible costs and the approval of project changes. It will also participate significantly in the planning, monitoring and evaluation of the programme.
Görner T.: Early Warning System on Invasive Alien Species on the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic´s Webpage Launched
On the webpages on Invasive Alien Species (IAS) run by the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic (http://invaznidruhy.nature.cz), the Early Warning System (EWR) has been recently launched. The EWR aims at early detection of newly arrived IAS and their immediate eradication afterwards. Comparing with established and naturalized IAS eradication, the tool is more effective and economically more advantageous. The EWR presents has been presenting two species – the Water primrose (Ludwiga grandiflora) and the Marbled crayfish (Procambrus fallax f. virginalis). The occurrence of both species has been reported from Germany, the crayfish has been also found in Slovakia. EWR offers the information on both species through factsheets and when they would be found in the Czech Republic, a photo and location can be sent by e-mail or by BioLog mobile phone applications. If the finding will be confirmed, the species shall be immediately eradicated afterwards. To the EWR, more species shall be added, inter alia, pursuant to the new Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species, a new European Union´s piece of legislation on the topic.
Chobot K., Hejda R. & Pavlíčko A.: A Report on Beetle, Butterfly, Dragonfly, Mollusc and Crustacean Species Listed in the European Union´ Habitats Directive and Occurring in the Czech Republic
In 2013, pursuant to Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora, as amended later, commonly known as the Habitats Directive, the Czech Republic as a European Union Member State submitted an assessment report on species and natural habitats. The reports are submitted to the European Commission each six years: the 2013 reports have been the second ones. The article summarizes outputs of the assessment on invertebrate species in the Czech Republic. In total, the information on 51 invertebrate species of the European Union importance was submitted by the Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic. The reports were elaborated by the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic separately for the Pannonian biogeograhical region (south-eastern Moravia) and for the Continental region: thus, 71 reports were prepared because some species occur in both the biogeographical regions. The assessment of the conservation status includes 15 beetle species, 16 butterfly species, 7 dragonfly species, 2 orthopteran species, 7 mollusc species, both native crayfish species among crustaceans, the pseudoscorpion species Anthrenochernes stellae and the European medicinal leech (Hirudo medicinalis). From a point of view of threatened natural habitat types, the species selection is quite representative, covering e.g. dead wood, steppes or open lowland forests.
Among the species assessed, there were more with unfavourable conservation status than with favourable one. Moreover, it does not come as a surprise, when taking into account which species are being listed in annexes to the EU nature conservation directives. Thus, there are only few common invertebrate species covered by the Habitats Directive and occurring in the Czech Republic. Moreover, when comparing the results of the 2007 and 2013 assessments, the conservation status of most species has not been changed. In the Czech Republic, the invertebrate species displaying the worsening in their conservation status inhabit mostly forest and water ecosystems.
Štěrba P.: Memorial/Veteran Tree Database in the Czech Republic
Similarly to other fields of activity, a rapid development in information technologies in the late 20th century influenced also registering memorial/veteran trees in the Czech Republic: paper files have been replaced replaced by digital databases. At present, the memorial/veteran tree database run by the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic can be openly assessed at http://drusop.nature.cz. Pursuant to Article 47, paragraph 3 of Act No. 114/1992 Gazette on Nature Conservation and Landscape Protection, as amended later, and to Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic Decree No. 64/2011 Gazette, basic data on the trees are available there. In addition to the compulsory information, the database also includes technical data on memorial/veteran trees available since 2013: they can be updated at any moment following the changes in real status of the particular tree despite the administrative procedure. Numerical data are interconnected with a map server through the GIS layer. The database provides some other functions, e.g. information can be searched through various filters or statistics; supplements and photos can be stored there. Publishing detailed data on memorial/veteran trees is a step in making the access to nature conservation data open for both experts and the general public.
Botková K. & Unnsteinsdóttir E.R.: The Arctic Fox in Iceland
The Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) occurs in two main habitats within the circumpolar Arctic regions, namely within the coastal zones and Arctic tundra. It is not only an animal of great beauty and elegance but also a mammalian predator well adapted to life in ice and cold habitats. In Iceland, the Arctic fox population reaches about 10,000-12,000 individuals in the autumn and about 5,000-6,000 individuals of all ages are harvested every year. Fox hunting in Iceland has had a long tradition since the time of the first human settlement. The highest Arctic fox density in Europe can be found in the Westfjords of Iceland, in the Hornstandir Nature Reserve. There, in an area of 580 km2, 40-50 pairs mate and forage mainly on cliffs enriched with bird life. The Arctic Fox Centre, established in 2007 and since 2010 located in the nearby village of Súdavík, is a non-governmental research and educational organization, which, inter alia, monitors the Hornstrandir Reserve population every summer season, studying parental behaviour and the tourist effect on fox bionomics. The reserve definitely is the best place for fox-watching in their natural habitat in Iceland.
Kolařík P.: The Northern Territory: Across Australia from the Kakadu National Park to Uluru/Ayers Rock
Located 240 kilometres east of Darwin in Australia’s tropical north, the Kakadu National Park is Australia’s largest terrestrial national park, covering almost 20,000 square kilometres. The protected area extends from the coast and estuaries in the north through floodplains, billabongs and lowlands to rocky ridges and stone country in the south. The landscapes there are home to a range of rare and endemic wild plants and animals, including more than one-third of Australia's bird species and one-quarter of its freshwater and estuarine fish species. The tall termite mounds, woodlands and waterfalls are popular tourist attractions in the Litchfiled National Park. The termite wedge-shaped mounds are aligned in a north-south direction as a response to the environment. The termites which build them feed on grass roots and other plant debris found in plains which are seasonally flooded. The MacDonell Ranges is a more than 600 km long series of mountain ranges located in the centre of Australia, consisting of parallel ridges running to the east and west of Alice Spring. The mountain range offers many spectacular gaps and gorges as well as areas of aboriginal significance. The Uluru-Kata Tjuṯa National Park is the location of a world-renowned sandstone monolith, which stands 348 metres in height and bears various inscriptions made by ancestral indigenous peoples.
Pelc F.: Burn Horns, Save Rhinos
In 2006, it seemed that most of African and Asian rhinoceros species have overcome the most critical moments in facing the danger of extinction. In that year, “only” 60 rhinos were poached across whole Africa. Moreover, due to continuing marketing in South-east Asia, where rhino horn is erroneously believed to contain beneficial medical properties, even against cancer the demand has not declined there, but on the contrary, it has been increasing. Consequently, one kilogram of rhino horn can fetch a price higher than gold or cocaine on the black market. Thus, rhino species are again quickly pushed to the brink of extinction by skyrocketing poaching. The Czech Republic is a major transit point for rhino horn trafficking: public authorities have in recent years seized rhino horns worth an estimated CZK 100 million (approx. USD 4.1 million) there. On September 21, 2014 the first-ever rhino horn burn in the European Union and a part of “Burn Horns, Save Rhinos” campaign aiming at reduction demands on rhino horns in consumer countries was organized at the Dvůr Králové nad Labem Zoological Garden (eastern Bohemia). The event was attended by a lot of VIPs including John Scanlon, the CITES Secretary-General or Tony Fitzjohn, the well-known African nature conservationist, founder of Wild Life Now and one of the leaders of the campaign. More than 53 kilograms of rhino horns from stockpiles of illegally traded ones were destroyed. The burning attracted massive media attention worldwide and the campaign was debated in China and Vietnam.
Pavel Pešout: 150 Years since the Birth of Luboš Jeřábek
Luboš Jeřábek, the author of the first proposal for protected area network in what is now the Czech Republic was born in 1864. He considered natural and cultural heritage in a holistic view. Therefore, in addition to huge efforts to protect cultural monuments, he was deeply involved in nature conservation and landscape protection. As early as in 1920, Jeřábek published a modern concept of establishing a protected area network in the former Czechoslovakia.