LIFE+ Lounské Středohoří Steppes
Active conservation of sites of European significance with thermophilous species in Lounské středohoří hills.
Steppes and its conservation
Louny is a part of České středohoří hills, which is from the point of view of a biologist one of the most significant site in the world. We can find severeal steppes – dry grassy areas traditionally maintained by regular pasture – on the slopes of local hills.
Most of these steppes are located on southern slopes of volcanic hills where the soil is very shallow a stony and the climate is extremly dry and hot. These areas have therefore never been suitable for growing crops or afforestation and thus were being used for pasture for many centuries. The pasture (mainly the pasture of sheep and goat) prevents the steppes of becoming overgrown with woody plants (mainly of foreign origin) and helps to spread plant seeds. Our steppes are therefore a good example of natural environment that requires a human management.
What species of plants and animals lives there?
The steppes are a home of a whole range of rare and protected species of plants and animals. The silver shell that ripples with the wind and covers the steppes every june is in fact a feather grass (Stipa pennata ). There are all seven czech species of this grass growing in the region, some of ithem very rare. It is next to impossible to distinguish between them for a layman. By contrast, the yellow Pheasant's eye, or very endangered Small pasque flower bohemica can be easily identified by any visitor.
Even though there is a whole range of endangered plants in the steppes, there are even more invertebrae residents of steppe's grass. Enormous and distinctively coloured butterflies such as scarce Swallowtail, or Old world swallowtail flutter around the hils' tops. You can be pleasantly surprised by an encounter with a beatifully coloured Ladybird spider in July. Amongst the most rare animals, for which our steppes are one of the last refuges in the Czech Republic, belong: the Hermit (Hipparchia briseis), the Damon blue (Polyommatus damon), the Eastern baton blue (Pseudophilotes vicrama), the Nickerl's fritillary or czech subspecie of locust - Stenobothrus eurasius.
Why are the steppes endangered?
There has been a serious reduction of agricultural animals in Czech Republic at the end of 20th century and pasture as a traditional way of farming unfortunately almost ceased to exist. Precious steppe areas therefore has been becoming overgrown with Briar, Hawthorn, Dogwood and Ash tree for more than two decades. There were also several species of foreign origin being planted in the past such as Locust or Black pine tree, which are quickly spreading at the expense of other indigenous species. There is a danger of progressive loss of many rare species bound to the dry steppe grass and white hillsides because of that. White hillsides is a term commonly used for slopes where natural landslips expose chalky base of soil (for example Třtěnské hillside and many small areas), which provide suitable environment for a lot of specialized protected species.
Project's objectives are
Securing maintance of steppe habitats of european significance with the use of traditional ways of farming especially by pasture of goat and sheep.
Augmentation of quantity of target species and general diversity of species by means of renewal and management actions.
Improvement of general public's interest about the issues of sustainable care of thermophilous species.
Expected results of the project
- Creation of functional structure of thermophilous habitats consisting of areas of different sizes and character (ranging from vast crucial areas to minor steppe fragments with the representation of different phases of succession) distributed in the intensively agriculturaly cultivated region of southwestern part of České středohoří hills. This will apply to an area of 320 hectares.
- Expansion of functional steppe habitat areas of selected species of organisms and improvement of communication between metapopulations of target species. The aim is to increase the area of functional steppes, especially habitats 6210 - Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometalia) and 6110* - Rupicolous calcacerous or basophilic grasslands of the Alysso-Sedion albi
- Familiarization of general public with the problematics of steppes in an agriculturaly cultivated area and the importance of traditional forms of farming (target subjects: 12 municipalities, 30 local farmers, 10 civic groups, other public – educational excursions for a total of 1200 persons. Involvement of local farmers /agricultural subjects) to care about project localities.
Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic
Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic
1. 1. 2011 - 31. 3. 2017
Total project cost
Financial participation of European Commission
Financial participation of Czech Republic (MŽP ČR)
Grant n. LIFE09 NAT/CZ/000363.
Affected cadastral territories:
Bělušice u Mostu, Charvatce u Loun, Chraberce, Chožov, Hořenec, Hrádek u Loun, Jablonec u Libčevsi, Kozly u Loun, Lahovice u Libčevsi, Libčeves, Milá, Mnichov u Loun, Mnichovský Týnec, Nečichy, Odolice, Raná, Sinutec, Třtěno, Všechlapy u Libčevsi, Želkovice u Loun
Ing. Vladislav Kopecký
telephone: +420 95 142 4312
cell-phone: +420 723 249 399