Peatlands restoration in Western Czechia

ALFAwetlands continues sharing knowledge, gained by our expert, Vlado Vancura, who had joint synergy meetings and the study tour to wetlands restoration practices in Czech Republic.

In the last decade, Western Bohemia in Czech Republic has already gained rich experience with the restoration of peatlands. Good examples of such a process are the restoration of the Božídar, Pernink and also Na Vrakách peatlands.

History of peatlands use

Božídar, Pernink and Na Vrakách are the names of three bogs located in the Western part of the Czech Republic. This type of wetlands has faced significant degradation since the 17th century. However, their use increased significantly especially after the Second World War. The reason for the large-scale extraction of peat was the need to replace the missing wood, used in the mining and ore industry. The consequence was a lack of firewood for heating houses. Dry peat has become a good and affordable substitute.

In the last decades, as the need for expansion and intensification of agriculture grew, activities connected not only to the extraction of peat, but also to the drainage of wetlands in the vicinity, had grown significantly. The result of the peat extraction and drainage was a significant change in the water regime of the surrounding landscape.

The damage and often complete loss of these ecosystems has disrupted the water balance and subsequently contributed to a higher frequency of flooding. Last, but not least, this process released stored carbon, especially from mined peatlands.

Current restoration practices

In the last decade, abovementioned three peatlands became a part of Natura 2000 network and also Ramsar sites, as the Ramsar Convention establishes an international network of protected wetlands´ sites. Currently, these three peatlands also gained international importance and thus entitled to receive support.

The latest large-scale peatland restoration projects in this region aimed at least partially correct the mistakes of the past. In this context, active restoration became a necessary activity to rehabilitate wetlands ecological functions. Furthermore, such restoration supports biodiversity, mitigates climate change and ensures the environmental stability and resistance of the region to future challenges.

Božídar peatbog complex

The Božídar peatbog is a peat complex located in the very Western part of the Czech Republic and is the largest peatbog in the Krušné Mountains. The Božídar peatbog was declared a state nature reserve in 1965. Today, it has an area of 1161 ha and is the largest reserve in the Karlovy Vary Region.

In the period of 19-20 centuries, the extraction of peat at this place became one of the main sources of livelihood for local residents. During peat mining, fuel was produced – peat for heating. In addition to peat extraction in the years 1980 – 2005, this area was the subject of extensive forest drainage. The reason for these activities was an effort to increase forest productivity.

The subject of protection were the remnants of open raised bogs, degraded raised bogs, bog hollows and ponds, as well as areas affected by previous mining. The protected area today also includes upland bogs with spruce, dwarf pine, dwarf birch, bogs and wet meadows. This remarkable natural area is known for its ecological importance and biodiversity.

This protected peatland offers a habitat for a variety of plant species, including rare and protected species. The area also plays an important role in water regulation and carbon storage, contributing to regional climate stability. The Božídar peatbog was recently (2010-2013) the subject of an extensive revitalization and restoration project. It focused primarily on restoring the water regime and also included the construction of several small dams to raise and maintain the water level.

Excavated Pernink peatland

The extraction of peat from the Pernink peat bog (near the Božídar peat bog) has a long history. It started already in the 19th century and mining continued until the 20th century. There was intensive peat mining in the period 1956-2000, when an area of 38 ha with the layers of peat, 7 meters thick, was extensively mined.

At that time, the main purpose of mining was to get fuel for heating. Mining was intensive and in many areas the peat was completely mined to mineral bedrock soil.

The excavated Pernink peatland became the subject of restoration only in the last decade. This restoration has become a valuable insight into the challenges and successes of revitalizing degraded raised bogs. Efforts also included blocking drainage channels to restore natural water levels. The control of invasive species becomes another priority for the protection of native flora in the recent years. The restoration process also included the selective replanting of original vegetation. 

The restoration of the Pernink peatland involves a complex process with a focus on carbon sequestration, biodiversity protection and flood prevention in the region.

Peatbog Na Vrakách

Peatbog Na Vrakach is another peatland on the ridge of the central part of the Krusne Mountains, not far from Božídarské peatbog and raised peatbog Pernink.

Like many other peatlands in this area, the Na Vrakách peatbog also suffered. The story of peat extraction is similar throughout the territory of the Krusne Mountains, so even in this case the need for wood to meet the demands of the mining industry resulted in severe deforestation. This, in turn, ends up with a shortage of firewood for local communities.

The solution was to use the peat to heat people’s homes. Such a situation lasted for decades, sometimes even centuries. Many peatlands are completely mined, others only with fragments of peat left.

Today, this situation provides an interesting experience that even several decades of spontaneous natural self-regeneration, cannot return peatbogs to a good condition. This experience shows how long and slow the process of self-renewal is. This further stimulates the need to be more proactive and consciously contribute and speed up the recovery process.


Abovementioned restoration activities serve as a promising model for revitalizing critical wetland ecosystems and their ecological benefits. Ongoing monitoring helps to assess further the progress and adjust strategies.

ALFAwetlands will continue discovering best restoration practices around Europe and will share these knowledge with you.

Iryna Shchoka
ALFAwetlands communication manager

This post was written by Vlado Vancura, European Wilderness Society expert, inspired by the synergy meeting and study tour to Czech Republic.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Translate »