Blaník Protected Landscape Area as an example of an associative landscape
Lubomír Hanel, Radovan Cáder
Many places in our country can boast unique genius loci, acquired through important historical events or personalities who lived or worked there and who impressed them with their distinctive seal. Such places are often accompanied by valuable monuments and/or natural landscapes, and sometimes by characteristic myths and legends. An example of such an associative landscape is the Blaník Protected Landscape Area. This territory is closed linked to our spiritual history and is also inherently linked with the founding of the modern Czech nation. They can therefore rightly be classified as “Regions of National Memory”.
The gravel-carrying Morávka river – a disappearing phenomenon in our landscape
Václav Škarpich, Tomáš Galia, Jan Hradecký, Stanislav Ruman
Today the Morávka river is one of the last gravel-carrying rivers in the foothills of the Moravian-Silesian Beskydy Mountains, with preserved sections of braided river channel. This type of channel is characterized by the separation of the river’s flow into several dynamically developing branches. At the turn of the 20th century this type of river channel was typical for most sub-montane stretches of river on the Czech side of the Carpathians, as well as on some of the wider intermontane valley floors. Long-term human influence has resulted in their fundamental transformation, together with the degradation of the river channels. In times of climate change it is even more important to consider the sediments in the river channels as integral parts of the river system and to adapt water resources management accordingly.
Changes in the approach to care for the Slanisko u Nesytu salt marsh. After several lean years are better times ahead?
Slanisko u Nesytu NNR, with its area of nearly 17 ha, is the largest salt marsh in the Czech Republic. The locality is not only important from a botanical perspective, but a whole range of rare animals also occur here, including the grasshopper Aiolopus thalassinus, which has its last locality in the country here. In recent years the form of management has changed fundamentally. The gradual increase in the intensity of grazing, especially by horses, has brought the expected benefits. Further management measures include opening up the dense poplar stands. Several inconspicuous species of halophilous plants, which were previously considered to be missing, were found here during botanical research carried out last year in September.
Changes in the forest ecosystems in Slavkovský les PLA in the years 1974 – 2015
Tomáš Fiala, Jana Rolková
The forest ecosystems in the Slavkovský les Protected Landscape Area represent significant phenomena in the landscape character, as all of the national nature reserves here cover forested areas. The continuity of the local forest landscapes is evidenced by finds of the indicator species of weevil Acalles pyranaeus, A. hypocrita and A. camelus in the Podhorní vrch Nature Reserve and Holina NR, despite the Medieval mining of ore and the later development of spas in the region. Even today we can find sections of the forest where the nature has retained its original appearance with minimum effects from human activities. From the evaluation carried out, we can see that the best preserved forests in the Slavkovský les PLA cover approximately the same areas as the most valuable First Zone of the PLA. Measures to improve the species composition of the forests are also financed from the Landscape Management Programme. This especially involves reducing the representation of spruce and increasing the proportions of beech and fir.
Revitalisation of the Sedlnice river
Radim Jarošek, Petra Legindi
The majority of the tributaries of the Odra river in Poodří PLA were modified by water resources management. Therefore, the revitalisation of some of these tributaries was proposed in the Plan for the Upper Odra Basin. The Revitalisation of the Sedlnice River Project, the investor in which was Povodí Odry, state company, was completed in 2015. The source of financing was the Operational Programme “Environment”. The revitalisation involved creating a shallow, meandering channel for the Sedlnice stream with a variable morphology and several pools, in planting the banks with the accompanying trees and shrubs and creating meadows on the floodplain. The revitalisation was an essential initial phase, but the river channel will be allowed to develop spontaneously in future years.
The braided river Skalická Morávka – a dynamic, stable and endangered environment
The conditions of the braided Skalická Morávka river are dynamic in their changeability, the stable and diverse mosaic of biotopes and the rapid regeneration of communities. This is also a habitat in danger of being lost. This can all be seen from the results of the hydrobiological inventory research carried out in the years 2011 to 2013. For certain species the results of the inventory research give reason for optimism. On the other hand, the populations of relict species of beetles are declining, and the numbers of ecologically non-native species of invasive neophytes are increasing. The consequences of unsuitable management measures (such as transverse weirs in the river channel) include the reduced amount of dead wood and the erosional deepening of the water flow. Thus, the Skalická Morávka river is an example of a place where well-meaning measures also lead to negative effects requiring remedial management.
Wildcats are returning to the Czech Republic, and what next?
The wildcat, which was once a common species in our nature, probably paid the price for the transformation of our natural forests and diverse landscape structures into spruce plantations and extensive fields. In the past wildcats were even hunted as “vermin”. At the end of the 18th century the wildcat began to disappear rapidly and has been considered a rare animal since the early 19th century. Its sporadic occurrence was attributed to wandering individuals from the neighbouring Slovakia or Germany. Thanks to photo traps we have evidence of their current presence in the Šumava Mountains, in the Javorníky Mountains, in Český les (Bohemian Forest), and in other places. The results of recent discoveries suggest that the wildcat is slowly returning to this country and that its presence in surrounding countries should help its return. What is needed is the interest of experts in this small predator.
The stories of old maps of caves
Old maps have always held their magic. They often depict something, which no longer exists, or lead us to places cloaked in mystery. Many historical maps are surrounded by legends or mysteries. Old plans are often works of art, even if the places depicted on them do not reflect the reality. In other cases they are surprisingly accurate. We can also find all of the aforementioned attributes on historical maps of the Bohemian and Moravian caves. And many of them are accompanied by unusual stories. The history of mapping the underground dates back to the Early Medieval period, although the subjects documented on these maps were mine workings. Many maps have been lost forever, but even today we can often find forgotten or unknown maps in the archives.
Elephants on the defensive. Great census reveals that the icon of the African savannah is disappearing at a frightening speed
František Pelc, Jindřiška Jelínková
The African Elephant is one of the indicators of the level of preservation of the natural environment in Sub-Saharan Africa. During the last century, the largest terrestrial mammal has disappeared from more than 90% of its original range. In the last decades they have suffered a dramatic decline and during the elephant survey carried out in the years 2013 – 2014 in 18 African states by Paul G. Allen and his team, using relatively accurate aerial census techniques, it was proven that the numbers of surviving elephants was not the predicted 434 000 - 500 000 elephants, but only around 350 000 individuals (Chase et al. 2016). What must be done immediately to stop the rapid decline of the African Elephant in the near future? To restrict poaching, to rigorously prosecute the illegal trade in ivory, reduce the extent of the destruction of natural habitats, to improve nature protection in national parks and other protected areas, where these truly majestic creatures live. The development of ecotourism may also help, as it provides incomes for local people.
Nature conservation on privately-owned land – the hope for the future of Western Ecuador´s threatened forests?
Although Western Ecuador is considered to be a biodiversity and endemism hotspot, over the last 50 years it has experienced one of the most drastic forest conversions in Latin America. Nowadays, the last stands of native forest are mainly found in a few public protected areas in a region which is generally not able to sustain the adequate protection. As a consequence of this situation, private initiatives in nature protection have been growing in numbers in the region, with the aim of protecting the last stands of native forest outside of public protected areas. Today, we can find more than 40 privately established protected areas, covering more than 50 000 hectares in total, which are mainly established and managed by non-profit organisations or local enthusiasts. Although these reserves are generally small (median <240 ha) and lack any connection to larger forest stands, they significantly contribute to the protection of the last stands of forest in this region.