National parks and Protected Landscape Areas

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Protected Landscape Area České středohoří

The PLA České středohoří (PLA ČS) and its administration was established 19. 6. 1976. Its main role is to protect the natural values of an area of 1 063 km2 (the overall geomorphological size of České středohoří is 1 275 km2). Situated in NW Bohemica (CZ) PLA ČS has an oval shape with maximum distance SW - NE 70 km. Other than the Doupovské hory, it is the only volcanic region in CZ. The highest point is Milešovka, 837 m, the lowest is the Elbe river in the town of Děčín at 122 m. Geomorphologically the PLA is divided into two main parts by the deep, 50 km long, Elbe river valley (in its southern part it is called “Porta Bohemica“). The NW part is characterized by vast, montaneous noe-volcanic mountainous non-volcanic plateau with the precipitation average of 700 mm/year. The SW part is very diversed, where the sharp shaped volcanic hills (cones) prevail. The precipitation there is lower, reaching 450 mm and it is one of the driest (and warmest) regions in the CZ.

Volcanic rock dominates geologically (different types of basalt, fonolith) and marlite or limestone soil types (clays, chalk or sandstone sediments). Special phenomena are stone debrises at hill slopes, ice holes and ventarols (micro-exhalations of the warm, damp air), special basalt formations (stone organs, bread formations, stone suns) or steep clay slopes (white slopes). Also lots of special minerals can be found here (Czech pyrops, aragonite, olivins, etc.). ČS is one of the protected areas with the smallest afforestation in CZ (28 %), the CZ average reaching 33 %.

Varying conditions (precipitation, geology) are reflected in the botanical richness. Within the area we can find over 600 rare plant and zoological species, some of them of European importance (eg. Cypripedium calceolus, Pulsatilla pates, Adenophora liliifolia, Spermophilus citellus). Primarily rich are south orientated localities (basalt rocks, clays), mainly in the Southern parts of ČS, where dry grassland habitats are found. These localities are rich in different pontic, pannonic or Euro-siberian species (Astragalus sp., Stipa sp. etc). Some species are at the border of their distribution (Helictotrichon desertorum).

From the zoological point of view ČS is significant with the occurence of a number of thermophilic steppe insects and molluscs,mainly in its SW parts. Some of the species penetrate along the Elbe river from Saxonia/Germany such as beaver (Castor fiber). In the last 10 years, thanks to determined management measures, the population of ground souslik (Spermophilus citellus) has increased (Raná hill).

ČS, mainly its southern warmer parts, is one of the oldest intensive agricultural regions in the CZ, part of the land is also called the “Garden of Bohemia“. The area also plays an important role in one of the mainstream traffic routes in the CZ (to Germany - Dresden, Berlin) – with a recently finished  motorway and a main railway corridor etc. Within the ČS or adjacent to it is situated several larger urban areas (Děčín, Ústí n.L., etc.) and industrial estates (chemical industry, power plant). This emphasises the importance of nature conservation within the ČS.

SCI Raná - Hrádek

The three-summit Raná hill (457 m above sea level) located near Louny is one of the larger sites with relatively well-preserved steppe communities. The grassland is made up of rare and protected species of steppe grasses such as Blue Oat Grass (Helictotrichon desertorum) or Stipa pulcherrima. Furthermore, visitors may encounter Pheasant’s Eye (Adonis vernalis),Gentianopsis ciliata, Silver Thistle (Carlina acaulis) and many other rare and interesting species. Monitoring of night moths and butterflies on the Raná hill and in the surrounding area recorded over 650 species although this number is not definitive. One of the rarest butterflies is the Damon Blue (Polyommatus damon), whose occurrence is closely linked to the occurrence of Onobrychis and at present occurs only on the Raná and Velký vrch hill. Other species of butterflies may also be encountered here, such as Hermit (Chazara briseis), Lulworth Skipper (Thymelicus acteon). Also, nearly 500 species of beetles have been recorded here, including an important find of endemic subspecies such as the Ground Beetle (Harpalus cisteloides hurkai). More than 60 vertebrates have been documented here. The significance of the Raná-Hrádek SCI consists of the fact that it hosts the European ground squirrel, a critically endangered rodent, which in the 1960s was still considered a serious pest.

Nonetheless, many species from this area have disappeared as the traditional way of farming – notably grazing – was abandoned here in the late 1980's. Grazing was not reintroduced until several years ago. In recent years, gradual shrub removal has been performed in the overgrown areas.

The top of the Raná hill is a popular place for paragliding and for air modellers and tourists who wish to enjoy the view of the surrounding areas.