All posts by Ondřej Vild

Děvín excursion

On Monday, April 15, 2024, we prepared an excursion for the students of the Boskovice Gymnasium to the locality of Děvín (Pálava Protected Landscape Area).

We went through the different types of forest ecosystems, from warm-loving oak forests on rocky outcrops, through Pannonian oak-hornbeam forests on the southern slopes of Děvín, and through dry forests on the NW slopes of Děvín. We focused on the tree and shrub species that make up the tree and shrub floor, and also looked at some of the important forest understory species.

In particular, the history and present of forest management on Děvín was part of the presentation, with a practical demonstration of the coppice-type forest and interventions in the clearings (see photo), which are created as part of targeted forest thinning to promote species diversity of plant and animal species. We presented the students with methods of data collection in permanent plots, and introduced them to the use of microclimatic sensors and dendrometers.

In the grazing area, we managed to observe a typical inhabitant of the local area – the violet oil beetle (pictured), in addition to species of the spring and summer aspect of the herbaceous layer.

Despite the bad weather and occasional rain, we successfully finished the excursion in Pavlov, where we gave the students and their teachers brochures on forest management and other materials related to the research of forest complexes in Děvín. A short quiz for small gift items was also the conclusion of the excursion.

Voluntary work in Podyjí NP

On Saturday, 23 March 2024, a work in the horse corral was held in Havraníky in cooperation with NP Podyjí, which brought together a total of 14 adults and several children of different ages, as evidenced by the attached photos. The aim of the brigade was to clear the corral of brush, branches and rosehip bushes to make the area more light and more permeable for the Exmoor horses, which help with the removal of expansive grasses and trees by moderate grazing.

In addition, we have been busy cleaning the horse shelter and around the watering trough to make the horses more comfortable. During the work, we also exchanged experiences regarding pasture management, the importance of thinning forests and discussed stumping techniques. All those interested were given brochures with detailed information on the subject.

After the work was done, we enjoyed a well-deserved reward of toasted “špekáčky” and went on a short excursion. Together we enjoyed the beauty of the saved part of the pasture, which was full of flowering coneflowers and sand moss. We thank all the participants for their contribution to landscape maintenance and look forward to more events together!

Excursion to the Radotín Rocks Natural Monument on 15 June 2023 with a Scout Group from Radotín

Radotín’s youngest scouts went again to their favourite forest-steppe site in Radotínské Rocks Natural Monument . Last autumn they helped the site with their work and now they were curious to see how the site looks in the full growing season. The visit to the site included environmental education focused on traditional managements, which are being successfully carried out under the Magistrate of the Capital City of Prague, as well as observation of animals and plants in the area. The children were delighted to catch the herd of sheep and goats that maintain the site.

Raking leaves with Brontosaurs

On the weekend of September and October, an event took place in cooperation with the ROTATE project, the Brontosaurus movement and the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic (NCA), the Administration of the Český kras Protected Landscape Area. In addition to an excursion around the area, environmental education games and the like, a group of fifteen volunteers participated in raking leaves at one of the conservationally important forest-steppe sites (Čihadla above the village of Srbsko). The place is important for its rich population of the orchid red-headed lanceolate. Occasional digging, especially oak leaves, thus helps to maintain a relatively oligotrophic uninvolved lawn under scattered trees. The participants thus tried traditional management in practice and participated in discussions on the reason, meaning and sustainability of this action in broader conservation contexts.


Anacamptis pyramidalis

Early star-of-Bethlehem as a messenger of spring

Early Star-of-Bethlehem. Photo by P. Petřík

On Thursday, March 2, 2023, a check of the site with Early Star-of-Bethlehem (Gagea bohemica) near Hrušovský pond (Brandýs nad Labem) took place with 11 participants of the Písklata scout group. The expert supervision was provided by Petr Petřík, who explained to the children the relict character of the habitat of the legally protected plant and also the threat it faces. In addition to the ongoing removal of the invasive stonecrop, the bushes were pruned here last yeyr.

Scout troop „Písklata“ working in the site of Early Star-of-Bethlehem.

Autumn excursion to NPR Děvín

On October 21, 2023 and October 28, 2023, long-awaited excursions for the general public took place in the Pálava Protected Landscape Area, during which the participants learned how traditional farming was done in the Czech Republic for centuries, or in most lowland forests in Europe. During both excursions we moved on the northeastern slopes of the Děvín National Nature Reserve, where a forest called oak-hornbeam spreads. This forest has been managed as a coppice for many centuries (it is characterized by regular cutting of trees at relatively short intervals, the trees are then renewed from stumps or roots). During walks through the forest we made several stops, during which we said something about oak-hornbeam in general, about what coppicing actually is and what benefits it has, during a short stop with a tour of the ruins of Děvičky Castle we talked about the history of this type of management in our area and finally we went to see the new clearings from spring 2022, where we discussed the present and hopeful future of coppicing in the Czech Republic. During the excursions, brochures “Growing from their stumps” were distributed, in which the participants could obtain more detailed information on the whole topic and deepen their knowledge.

ROTATE project meeting in Ulvik (26-27 April 2023)

Our visit to Norway was a continuation of the exchange of experiences that two of us had last autumn. This time six Czech participants from two institutions (Institute of Botany of the CAS and Faculty of Environment of the Czech University of Life Sciences) took part in the meeting.

Czech team in Bergen. Photo by O. Vild








After a meeting in Bergen with our colleagues from Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research and a fascinating stop at the Steinsdalsfossen waterfall, our first study stop was at Arne Fykse’s farm. As well as running a hospitality business, he is musically gifted, as we were lucky enough to judge. Arne introduced us to the various joys and sorrows of his livelihood, giving us a tour of his farm, which focuses on apple growing and pollarding (cutting trees for buck).

Farmer Arne Fyksa demonstrating his piece of art made from pollarded tree. Photo by O. Vild

He continues the family tradition with enthusiasm, despite relatively low support (about NOK 100-500 per tree per year). He described to us the main tree species that can be used in this way for fuel or as fodder for livestock. (He used to raise sheep, but now focuses only on primary production.) These are mainly ash trees, which unfortunately have been dying in recent years from ash necrosis caused by the fungus Hymenoscyphus fraxineus. There are also linden trees (mainly the bark from the branches is used), elm, birch (which cannot be completely pruned as it is sensitive), oak (which lives to a ripe old age) and willow (which provides nectar for bees even in early spring). The wood can also have a high aesthetic value, as Arne showed us in his carvings made from old dead logs. He also showed us a special tool called a hovold, which was used to pull down bundles of branches to make them easier to handle. In the process, the wood was put in salt water so that it could be bent. Old oaks grow on his property, providing habitat for other tree species such as birch and mountain ash.

Czech scientists studying interesting merging of three woody species. Photo by P. Petřík
P. Szabó and P. Petřík admiring pollarded tree. Photo by J. Doudová

After the farm, we continued on to the Uranes Nature Reserve, which was established in 1984 to protect the forest in the central part of the Hardanger Fjord area. Uranes protects one of the most valuable deciduous temperate forests in Hordaland because of its size, species richness and variability. The steep slopes are covered with oaks, lindens and birches with a varied herbaceous undergrowth and in some places even spring gardens. Traces of game activity were also evident, peeling the bark and nibbling the seedlings. On the twisted or several-headed tree trunks we admired lichens of the genus Lobaria, otherwise rare in our country, resembling lungs by their name.

Lichen Lobaria pulmonaria. Photo by P. Petřík







Old tree with many stems in the Uranes reserve. Photo by J. Doudová

The following morning was already filled with discussions about the ongoing project. Jana Doudová, the project leader, presented us with the progress and an overview of publications. In particular, we discussed the long-term effect of burrowing on biodiversity in forests, specifically whether weather extremes or management effects have a greater impact. Fride Høistad Schei introduced us to the basic characteristics of Norwegian nature, the oceanicity gradient and the distribution of phytogeographically important plants. The results of repeated records from ash dominated plots presented by her showed minimal changes in the species composition of the understory despite significant ash mortality. Jørund Johanssen talked about a socio-economic study involving 12 pollarding farms. Even though it is not the main activity for 2/3 of them, these farmers own an average of 50 trees per farm. It was also interesting to note that they use the leaves from pollarding as medicine for their cattle. There was a debate on whether the practice of pollarding trees in forests is sustainable. It involves thinning the whole forest, which may seem uneconomical, but the ecological benefits are considerable because of the increase in biodiversity. Radim Hédl presented an overview of coppicing for the Czech Republic and the results of a multitaxon study of coppiced areas, where the organisms studied responded differently to lightening and coppicing can be an important tool for the conservation of some of them. Finally, there was a discussion under the chairmanship of Ondřej Vild on the publicity for the project.

Discussion on the traditional methods in forests. Photo by P. Petřík

On the last day we stopped at a farmer’s house in Ulvik. Besides pollarding, he is involved in gardening and sheep grazing and has a great knowledge of biology. He maintains a diverse range of habitats with different uses on his land. The Norwegian colleagues then took us back to Bergen, where we have already spent experiences and discussions, e.g. on pollarding, which is also used in urban greenery care, but is still not appreciated here. 

Written by Petr Petřík

Managing the locality of Radotínské skály with scouts

On 12.11.2022, the youngest children from the scout group 5. květen Radotín gathered for a long-awaited event where they could experience what management supporting protected natural habitats can look like. The fieldwork followed a spring field trip to the same locations, during which the children learned about what makes a site valuable from a natural history and conservation perspective and how they can help. Although the children could not wait to pick up their tools, we first visited a nearby important site with fossils – Nature park Orthocerový lůmek and then we took a small hike through the surrounding countryside to Radotínské skály. During the snack, the children recalled interesting species of plants that grow here and which are the focus of the management. Although they were mostly pre-school children, they managed (with the help of the leaders) to do a nice job. The scouts removed several shrubs of the Golden chain tree (Laburnum anagyroides) – an ornamental shrub, but also an invasive plant that is capable of gradually overgrowing the steppe (along with other species), including several dozen seedlings of this species already. They then removed the branches with many seeds (and potential new plants) from the site, preventing further spread. They also managed to clear 2 oak trees from the surrounding scrub, thus brightening up areas where Lady orchids were growing. The children really enjoyed the work and are already looking forward to coming back in the spring to see how the orchids are doing.


Raking the leaves with the Brontosaurus Movement

On the weekend at the turn of September and October, the ROTATE project event took place in cooperation with the Hnutí Brontosaurus NGO and the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic, Administration of the Český karst PLA. In addition to an excursion around the area, environmental educational games etc., the group of fifteen volunteers participated in the litter racking on one forest-steppe locality of conservation importance (the Čihadla locality above the village of Srbsko). On the site there is a rich population of endangered orchid Anacamptis pyramidalis. Occasional litter raking, especially of oak leaves, thus helps to maintain a relatively oligotrophic grassland under the scattered trees. The participants thus experienced traditional management in practice and participated in discussions about the reason, meaning and sustainability of this management in a broader conservation context.


Pyramidal orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis)

Management of the site with endangered species Early Star-of-Bethlehem in cooperation with the Scout Institute

Early Star-of-Bethlehem (Gagea bohemica) at the locality near Hrušovského pond, 16/03/2022. Photo P. Jiras

The small locality at the Hrušovský pond near Brandýs nad Labem is one of the disjunct ones in the Czech Republic for the critically endangered species of the Early Star-of-Bethlehem. Around 70 flowering individuals and many sterile ones grow here. In addition, there are also a number of thermophilic species preferring open habitats (e.g. rush skeletonweed). The site was gradually overgrown with bushes, and the invasive species of the ornamental plant, the Caucasian Stonecrop, also contributed to the reduction of the area of ​​rocky outcrops of the valuable habitat. Cooperation has therefore been established with the Scout Institute with the local branch of the Scouts from Brandýs nad Labem, the site has been be monitored from spring 2022, and management in the form of cutting and removing invasive stonecrop is also taking place here. Petr Petřík led a botanical excursion to the site on April 9, 2022 in cooperation with the Czech Botanical Society, and then organized a separate event for smaller scouts on April 19, 2022. Prior to that, we managed to arrange the pruning and removal of bushes with the Technical Services of the city Brandýs nad Labem, so the place became brighter and we expect the development of the rock steppe.

A rocky slope above the road overgrown with bushes and an invasive species of Caucasian stonecro, among which the remnants of the population of the Early Star-of-Bethlehem survive, 9/3/2022. Photo D. Hrčka
The slope above the path after tree cutting, 19 April 2022. Photo P. Petřík
Scouts working at locality with endangered species. Photo Kleki 14/10/2022