Wetlands restoration in Slavkovský les

To learn about wetlands restoration practices and build ALFAwetlands synergies with other projects and initiatives, European Wilderness Society have visited various Czech Republic wetlands restoration sites. It was a part of the study tour, organised in October 2023 by the Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic in cooperation with the Carpathian Wetlands Initiative and experts of the Centre for Theoretical Studies, Charles University.

Furthermore, European Wilderness Society´s expert, Vlado Vancura, have developed number of postings regarding restoration practices. One of them is about Slavkovsky les restoration experience, which we are sharing now with you.

Introduction of Slavkovský les

Landscape Protected Area Slavkovský les is located in the very western corner of Czech Republic. The areas is famous by many spa.  It is an area with extensive wetlands, well-preserved forest and the valleys of the meandering streams of the Teplá and Ohře rivers with remarkable rock formations.

The territory is important primarily because of its diverse range of wetlands and water biotopes – uplands, transition bogs, peaty and waterlogged spruce forests, mud forests, wetlands, bogs and peaty meadows, various types of springs, small watercourses and springs of mineral water – these are together with escaping underground gases, a unique local phenomenon.

Wetlands with an international recognition

The wetlands here have also international recognition. The springs and the peat bogs of the Slavkovský les were inscribed into the List of Wetlands of International Importance – the Ramsar Convention sites.

This valuable territory with a total area of 3 200 ha consists of two separate parts – a complex of highlands and forest peat habitats.  These are protected within the national Kladské raseliny nature reserve and a system of non-forest wetlands with numerous mineral springs in the Tepelská vrchovina.

Wetlands restoration

The extensive forests have a modified species composition with prevailing spruce, beech and fir. There are ecologically very valuable raised bogs and wet meadows. Some of these wetland ecosystems are under restoration with the objective to restore biodiversity and water regime.

The main wetlands restoration method is focused on management of water level. Drainage made already several decades ago dramatically decreased water level and permanently changed ecological condition of many wetlands and wet meadows. Restoration of the water regime is one of the main wetland restoration methods, which is applied here as well.

Wetlands in Slavkovský les

Wetlands in the protected area of Slavkovský les are a precious natural asset. These waterlogged ecosystems offer a sanctuary for diverse plant and animal species. They act as a natural filter, improving water quality, and play a crucial role in a flood control. The wetlands also offer a serene and picturesque environment for visitors to appreciate the area’s unique ecological value.

Mineral springs

Slavkovský les is also called a “land of living waters”. It is phenomenon of natural healing springs which has become one of the main objects of protection. Some of them as Novoveská, Farská, Kynžvartské mineral waters springs are subject of special protection.

Nature reserve Smradoch

The wetland nature reserve Smradoch (‘Stinky”) is an example of strictly protected spring connected to several additional interesting natural features such as “mud volcanoes” and vents of carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide. The smell resembling rotten eggs with content of sulphur explain, how this unique place acquired its name. The surrounding vegetation consists of valuable peat bog and waterlogged spruce forests.

Krásenské peat bog

Krásenské peat bog is a site of European importance: Natura 2000 site. It is an upland area that was heavily damaged by surface mining of peat in the second half of the 20th century. Only a small part at the north-eastern edge of the site has been preserved in its original form. The subject of protection is peat forest, transitional peatlands, acidophilic spruces and degraded uplands, which are still capable of performing natural regeneration.

The thickness of the peat layer in the central part of the site reached up to 7 m in the past. The beginning of peat deposition which was determined by the pollen method, goes back 8 to 10 thousand years. There are sediments of water courses in the western part of the territory.

Peat was mined here already in the past by so-called borking, i.e. cutting off blocks (borek). These were subsequently dried and then used for heating. Industrial extraction of peat took place after 1980. After drainage through central and peripheral ditches, the upper layer with the vegetation was removed, followed by surface milling of the peat layers. This large-scale mining was not completed until the late 1990s.

Wetland restoration

Wetland restoration in the protected area of Slavkovský les is a crucial environmental initiative. Restored wetlands provide a habitat for diverse wildlife and play a vital role in flood control and water purification. By reviving these ecosystems, conservationists help to preserve the delicate balance of nature, while allowing visitors to enjoy the area’s unique beauty and biodiversity.

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