Nature and Management
General information about NP Podyjí
|NP Area:||63 km²|
|Protected Area:||29 km²|
|Length of Dyje inside NP:||40 km|
|Highest point:||536 m.a.s.l.|
|Lowest point:||207 m.a.s.l.|
|Forest cover:||84 %|
|Area used for agriculture:||9 %|
|Other areas:||7 %|
Podyjí National Park was declared on 1 July 1991 in the Government Regulation No. 164/1991. A protection zone was set up to manage the park and to ensure the protection of nature on the territory.
The beginnings of the large-surface-area protection of the middle reaches of the Dyje river date back to 1978, when the Podyjí Protected Landscape Area was declared on an area of 103 km2. The majority of this area was included in the militarised border zone and was closed to the general public. After the political changes in 1989 preparations were made to declare this territory with exceptional natural quality as a national park, which was achieved in 1991. Podyjí NP is the smallest national park in the Czech Republic by area as the NP covers 63 km2 with a buffer zone of 29 km2. Podyjí NP primarily includes the valley of the middle reaches of the Dyje river between Vranov nad Dyjí and Znojmo, along the state border with Austria. On 1st January, 2000 the Austrian bank of the river was declared as National Park Thayatal to form a unique, bilateral territory of European importance.
The rugged terrain of the middle Dyje valley forms a part of the hilly country of the South-eastern edge of the Czech-Moravian Highlands, while the eastern edge of the park belongs to the Dyje – Svratka River Basin. The geological basement is predominantly formed of acidic minerals of the Moravicum – the Dyje Arch and the Dyje Massif.
The national park represents an exceptionally well-preserved example of a river valley landscape in the hill country level of central Europe. The canyon of the Dyje creates a unique river phenomenon with numerous meanders, the deeply incised valleys of sidestreams, a wide variety of rock formations, boulder fields and rocky cliffs. Most of the similar river valleys in this country have been modified by the construction of dams, roads, railway lines and recreational areas.
The territory is home to a great variety of plant and animal communities, which is predetermined by the varying slope exposition in the Dyje valley, the complicated relief and the variety of geological basements. The natural backbone of the territory is the Dyje river which has carved a canyon-like valley up to 220 m deep in the rocks of the Bohemian Massif on its 40 km flow from Vranov to Znojmo. The whole valley is almost completely covered by near-natural forests. In the western part of the NP we can find remnants of the native sub-montane beechwoods with firs and yew, which pass into oak-hornbeam stands as we move eastwards and finally into thermophilous oakwoods. As well as the common forest tree species we can also find rarer trees and shrubs, but which are characteristic for Podyjí. Examples are the Mahaleb Cherry, Cornelian Cherry, Cotoneaster and Juniper. In inversion areas we can find European Bladdernut, Alpine Rose and Sycamore. In the warmer south-eastern section of the park the following species occur – Wayfaring Tree, Mezereon, the Oak Quercus dalechampii, Scotch Rose and French Rose. The endemic Hardegg Rowan can only be found in the Czech – Austrian Dyje (Thaya) valley.
The whole territory is significantly influenced by the so-called valley phenomenon, which allows thermophilous plant and animal species from the warm Pannonian region to the south-east to move westwards along the Dyje valley. On the contrary, submontane species migrate eastwards along the valley, where we can find them on colder and shaded north-facing slopes in the valley.
Among the most interesting specially protected plant species we can mention Black Hellebore, Perennial Honesty, Cyclamen, Hungarian Mullein, Great Pasque Flower, Hungarian Iris, Yellow Ox-eye Daisy, Corn Brome, 18 orchid species and many others.
The unique heathland and steppe grasslands in the south-eastern part of the park were formed in medieval times after the native thermophilous oakwoods were cut down and these areas were then grazed by cattle, sheep and goats. These heathlands are especially significant due to the occurrence of a large number of rare thermophyte plant and insect species as well as the shrubby growths of Heather, Hairy Greenweed, Regensburg Broom etc. This type of heathland growing in xerothermophilous (hot and dry) conditions is of an endemic character and does not occur anywhere else. A total of 65 mammal species have been recorded on the NP territory (e.g. the Otter, Brandt’s Bat, Field Vole, Bi-coloured White-toothed Shrew) and 152 species of birds, of which around 2/3 nest here (e.g. Black Stork, Hoopoe, Honey Buzzard, Tengmalm’s Owl, Eagle Owl, Kingfisher). The most notable of the 7 reptile species are the Tree Snake and the Emerald Lizard. Of the amphibians the most significant are the Fire Salamander, Great Crested Newt and several frog species. The fish are primarily represented by the Brown Trout and the Grayling. Several native fish species of the “barbel belt“, including the Barbel and the Nase, still survive in the Dyje, where they had always lived before the construction of the Vranov Dam further upstream, which changed the river into a “secondary trout zone“. Bullheads are also common in the natural flows of the Dyje.
The national park is the home to an unbelievable variety of insects and the specially protected species which live here are the Praying Mantis, the Owlfly Libelloides Macaronius and the Mantisfly. The butterflies include 13 specially protected species (Southern Festoon, Swallowtail and Scarce Swallowtail, Clouded Apollo etc.). The beetles are also represented by specially protected species such as the European Rhinoceros Beetle, Stag Beetle, Great Capricorn Beetle etc.
The territory of the NP is divided into 3 zones with special protection regimes.
Ist zone (strictly natural) – includes the core territory of the NP, which is mostly the valleys of the Dyje river and its tributaries. The nature here is only a little disturbed and influenced by man. Most of the Ist zone covers near-natural forest stands on the valley slopes such as rocky steppe, relict pinewoods, talus and ravine forest and fragments of sub-montane primeval forest. The nature in this zone is left to natural development and in the interests of nature, all human activity is forbidden here. Access to and movement in this zone is only possible on marked tourist trails.
IInd zone (targeted natural) – includes a large proportion of the forest complex and the most valuable forest-free areas (heathlands and meadows). The aim of management in this area is to achieve a near-natural condition of the forest stands. The botanically unique forest-free localities must be maintained in the desired condition by professionally targeted management (grazing, cutting and other biotechnological interventions). The rules for visitor movement in this zone are the same as in the Ist zone.
IIIrd zone (marginal) – this mostly fringes the IInd zone in the outer sections of the national park and is the most influenced by human activity. The marginal zone also covers the agricultural areas around Lukov and Čížov villages and the fringes of the forest complex. These lands can be utilized, in a reasonable manner, for agriculture, forestry and tourism but the targets and interests of nature protection must always be in first place.
Buffer zone – surroundings the whole territory of the national park. Its main function is to protect the territory of the park from civilisational effects from the surrounding area.
Small-surface-area protected areas
In Podyjí NP such protected areas have not been established because intensive protection of the area is ensured by other methods (zoning, targeted management etc). The following protected areas have been declared on the territory of the buffer zone.
· Horecký kopec Hill Natural Monument – a steppe area on the border with Austria with the occurrence of xerothermophilous plants and animals and a high species diversity (1.41 ha).
· Horáčkův kopeček Hillock Natural Monument – a steppe area with the occurrence of the Dwarf Iris (0.29 ha).
· Fládnitzké vřesoviště Heathland Natural Monument – a complex of xerothermophilous heathlands and steppe areas (4.00 ha).
Other small-surface area protected areas in the close vicinity of the national park.
· Cínová hora Hill Natural Monument – the locality is a former quarry with the occurrence of protected species of xerophilous plants and animals.
· Červený rybníček Pond Natural Monument – a shallow depression of artificial origin. The Fairy Shrimps Streptocephalus torvicornis and Pristicephalus carnutatus occur here on the northern border of their ranges (0.14 ha).
· Pustý kopec (Suchý vrch) Hill Natural Monument – a granite hill with steppe grasslands and the occurrence of protected animal and plant species (1.57 ha).
· Skalky Natural Monument – a steppe locality with the occurrence of protected species of plants and animals (1.52 ha).
· Šafářka Natural Monument – a meadow with natural vegetation, including specially protected plant species.