An important part of modern nature conservation is the conservation of plant and animal species occurring in the Czech Republic.
Act No. 114/1992 Gazette on nature and landscape protection distinguishes two attitudes regarding species protection: general and special protection.
General protection of species
General protection (§ 5) establishes protection of all plant and animal species from destruction, damage, collection or capture, which leads or might lead to endangering the existence of these species or to their degeneration, to impairment of reproduction ability of the species, to extinction of the population of the species or to destruction of the ecosystem of which they form a part. Intentional dispersion of crossbreeds of plants or animals into the landscape shall be possible only with permission of the nature protection authorities as some species may be endangered by the effect of non-indigenous species in our country.
Birds occupy quite a special position in general protection, which results from EU legislation (Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds 79/409/EEC). While general protection is focused on whole species populations, general bird protection relates to each individual of the wildlife species group occurring in the European Community territory (§ 5). The following activities are prohibited: deliberate killing, collection or capture, deliberate damage to, or destruction of (except for specified bird species, and carried out in accordance with regulations concerning hunting and with this Act), their nests and eggs or removal of their nests, taking their eggs in the wild and keeping these eggs, deliberate disturbance of these birds, in particular during the period of breeding and rearing. This broadening of general protection, which is valid from April 2004, is a significant tool for protection of all individual wildlife birds .
Special protection of species
In the Czech Republic, plant and animal species that are rare, endangered, or significant from a cultural or scientific point of view belong to the category of specially protected species, for which the protection regime is stricter. They are further divided into three categories according to their vulnerability (vulnerable, endangered, critically endangered) and the list of species forms part of regulation No. 395/1992, appendices II and III. In contrast to general protection, the species shall be protected in all stages of development. In addition, it is forbidden to collect specially protected animals and specially protected plants, kill them deliberately, capture or utilize them for commercial purpose. Protection of biotopes, the environment of specially protected species as the elementary existential condition, is a significant tool of special species protection.
An exemption from the prohibitions established in special species protection can be granted in concrete cases (for example in the interests of public health or public safety, air safety, prevention of serious damages). The conditions are specified in act No. 114/1992 Gazette on nature and landscape protection. PLA administrations, as nature conservation authorities, can grant an exemption from the general and special protection in the PLA territory regarding all categories of specially protected species. Outside the PLA and national park territory, they can grant exemption regarding endangered and critically endangered species only. For information about territorial competence outside the PLA and national park territory click here.
Preservation programmes are prepared for specially protected plant and animal species, whose existence is negatively influenced by man to a large extent. Firstly, the biological and ecological conditions of the specific species are considered as well as current dangerous conditions and the extent of its occurrence. Then measures for creating conditions that would lead to reinforcement of the species population are suggested. To succeed, a basic condition is to provide the species a biotope of good quality and adequate extent. It should be a place where the species can find a breeding site, nutrition and shelter. For already approved preservation programmes see their list.
Implementation of the Natura 2000 network has significantly influenced the current system of species protection in the Czech Republic. Both directives establishing Natura 2000, the Birds Directive (79/409/EEC) and Habitats Directive (92/43EEC) are first of all, beside biotope protection, focused on protection of "species of European Community interest". The directives are included in the legislation of Czech Republic through the amendment of act No. 114/1992 Gazette on nature and landscape protection.
The Habitats Directive, despite its title, stipulates wildlife animal and plant species in its two appendixes. Appendix II stipulates species requiring special territorial protection, which is implemented in the form of a so-called special area of conservation. Appendix IV stipulates species requiring strict protection, for which reason they are to be included in the list of endangered and critically endangered species and provided with the necessary conservation requirements.
The Birds Directive includes two forms of bird protection. Firstly it is concerned with general species protection and secondly it imposes the obligation to designate special protection areas for bird species of European importance.
Species protection does not imply only prohibitions and legislative limitations. Nature conservation bodies support, from various financial resources (Czech State Environmental Fund, landscape programmes of the Ministry of the Environment) activities to promote populations of specially protected species. Specific, practical measures aimed at protecting species as well as biotopes are conducted by various subjects.
Information tools form an important part of species protection, although they are often marginalized. The aim is to teach the public about habitats and the ecological functions of specific species in our country. It is a necessary part of protection of those species that can or do cause harm (for example large carnivores). Information tools are therefore focused especially on local people and farmers. They also include educational publishing in regional media, educational stationary publishing, maintenance of nature paths or meetings and lectures on different themes.
Role of the NCA CR
The active protection of endangered wild flora and fauna species is a necessary supplement to the conservation of valuable areas and sites. NCA CR has been appointed to coordinate wildlife species protection at the national level. It monitors the distribution and occurrence of selected priority species and their changes, assesses the drivers of threat, classifies wildlife species, subspecies or populations into Red Data Books and Red Lists according the extinction risk, prepares and implements species-specific conservation measures including recovery programmes/action plans.
By means of the 24 Protected Landscape PLA administrations, NCA CR carries out the State Administration in severely and critically endangered wildlife species protection on the Czech Republic’s territory. NCA CR is a National Scientific Authority of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). It issues expert opinions for the State Administration authorities whether the import or export of specimen(s) of a certain species shall endanger its population(s) in the wild and whether the future owners of the imported plants and animals are appropriately equipped to cultivate or breed them in captivity.
NCA CR is a technical supervisor for preparation of expert data about Sites of European Importance and for Bird Areas management.
NCA CR is a contact point and an expert body for providing compensation of damages caused by selected specially protected animals (Act No. 115/2000 Gazette).