In relation to the entry of the Czech Republic into the European Union, a duty arose in the area of the environment to join the network of protected areas of European importance called Natura 2000. This network is based on two European Directives: 2009/147/EC on the Conservation of wild birds, and 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora. The network comprises two types of locations, largely overlapping.
Special Protection Areas (SPA) were selected based on ornithologists’ expertise and announced in 2004. The Šumava Special Protection Area was declared for nine bird species: the western capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus), the black grouse (Tetrao tetrix), the hazel grouse (Bonasa bonasia), the corn crake (Crex crex), the black stork (Ciconia nigra), the black woodpecker (Dryocopus martius), the Eurasian pygmy owl (Glaucidium passerinum), the boreal owl (Aegolius funereus), and the three-toed woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus). The black grouse is among the most threatened species, as its quantity has been dropping recently. In addition to being disturbed by man, one of the main causes of its disappearance is also the loss of suitable biotopes. The black grouse’s habitat is a mosaic of peat bogs, open areas of alpine meadows or clear cut areas, as well as forests of various ages. The bird has also been afflicted by draining peat bogs and waterlogged spruce forests where suitable sites with a sufficient food supply can be found. Some project activities directly focus on improving the black grouse’s habitat (regeneration of peaty biotopes, pruning of successional areas, mowing of secluded wet meadows).
Following the estimation of the current situation, carried out by mapping in accordance with a unified methodology in 2000–2004, the most valuable parts in the territory of the Czech Republic were proposed as future Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) within the Natura 2000 network in combination with sites allotted by experts for species of European importance, giving rise to the National List. It was presumed – and has become a reality – that most sites suggested had already been located in protected areas (NP, PLA, small-area PA). And it is only logical that both the Šumava National Park and the Šumava Protected Landscape Area have been added.
The most valuable (priority) biotopes protected within the Šumava SAC are bog forests and active raised bogs. A significant portion of them are included in the areas covered by this project, as most mires have been damaged by draining in the past, and the project will contribute to the improvement of their condition by re-establishing the water regime. These biotopes are also home to the Ménétries ground beetle (Carabus menetriesi pacholei) – a priority species, subject of SAC protection. The beetle is almost strictly bound to forest-free, sufficiently waterlogged sites with dominating sphagnum moss. So it should also greatly benefit from the restoration measures to be carried out as part of the project, leading to the regeneration of wetland biotopes.
In addition to outlining its own sites within Natura 2000, the Czech Republic is also obligated to continuously monitor all subjects of protection and report to the European Commission every 6 years. We anticipate that once the project is finished, the effect of measures implemented will be shown in the subsequent evaluation report.