Environment Ministry Designates New Protected Landscape Area in South Moravia

The government pledged in its policy statement that Soutok would become a national park. Photo credit: JMK.

Valtice, Mar 6 (CTK) – A new protected landscape area is to be designated at the confluence of the Morava and Dyje (Thaya) rivers in South Moravia, the Environment Ministry and the regional authority told journalists today. The area, known as Soutok, is ecologically significant as the largest extent of floodplain forests in Central Europe.

The ministry has agreed on the mode of protecting the area with local mayors and the South Moravian Region.

The government pledged in its policy statement that Soutok would become a national park, and the protected landscape area is the first step towards this status.

At present, there are 26 protected landscape areas in the Czech Republic.

Environmentalists have been calling for stronger protection of the floodplain forests in the locality for decades.

Deputy Environment Minister Petr Hladik (KDU-CSL) said that in over three decades, the political will had not been found to provide comprehensive protection of the unique area, compared to Amazonia due to its rare ecosystem.

At present, there are just two small national reserves with floodplain forests at the confluence of the rivers, on land belonging to the Czech Forestry company.

“In the updated policy statement, we pledged to extend the ​​protected landscape areas and prepare documentation for the declaration of the Soutok National Park,” Hladik said.

“This is why last year, the Environment Ministry took a number of steps with a view to determining the most appropriate form of comprehensive protection. After an expert assessment and discussions with local mayors and officials of the South Moravia Region, we have proceeded to declare a protected landscape area here,” he added.

Hladik also said that during the next three months, practical affairs such as zoning would be dealt with. There will then be a “round-table discussion” of all the parties involved to discuss the project.

The ministry will subsequently launch the process of designation. It is the government that declares protected landscape areas, said Hladik, adding that this could happen later this year, but more likely sometime in mid-2024.

The area will encompass about 10 municipalities.

The “Moravian Amazonia” is the largest surviving floodplain forest area in the Czech Republic, and is home to huge ancient oak trees, though scientists have warned that their number is falling rapidly.

Between 1990 and 2009, more than a half of ancient forest stands disappeared. The Czech Forestry company has dismissed criticism, arguing that the present-day floodplain forests in the area are the result of over 300 years of forest management.

“The Soutok protected landscape area will be the first step towards turning this unique area into a national park one day. What matters now is to agree on this, not to get stuck in the debate on whether it will be a protected landscape area or a national park. The main thing is to provide the area with comprehensive protection,” Hladik said

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