A Bubble of Fresh Air For The Birds, Frogs And Residents of Břeclav

Ardea Břeclav, a branch of the national Brontosaurus environmental movement based in the South Moravian town of Břeclav, is working on a major project: the restoration of Krce ecosystems floodplain into a park open to the public, offering activities close to nature and educational trails. Photo credit: Ardea Břeclav, Brontosaurus

Czech Republic, March 2 (BD) – The association asked the city for the loan of land for this purpose, which was granted by Břeclav city council. The municipality will lend 5,000 square meters of land for ten years to support the start of the project. However, the biggest challenges are yet to come; funds still need to be raised, and the long, hard work of volunteers has just started. 

“The area of the planned park was formerly used for agriculture,” explains Martin Václavík, the president of Ardea Břeclav. The plantations of these floodplains, located along the Dyje River, have gradually been abandoned because they were too unpredictable, hard to cultivate and therefore incompatible with modern and intensive agriculture. In addition, problems related to property rights, and the beaver population which has modified the circulation of water in the plain, have led to the complete abandonment of these lands over the past decades.

Unfortunately, nature could not properly recover since, as Václavík explains, “this was followed by strong colonization by invasive plant species, which took up space.” This type of vegetation smothers other plants and therefore does not allow ecosystems to recreate themselves healthily. Indeed, for the latter to function properly, it is essential that a sufficient quantity of different species, what we call biodiversity, coexist in a balance where they complement and serve each other. For that reason, “from a biological point of view, space is now of little value”, adds Václavík. 

A long term challenge

“With a gradual change, we would like to return the original plants,” says Václavík. For example, the association would like to see local varieties of fruit trees appear. This work will mobilise many volunteers, over several years, who will do all the work of restoration and conservation with the strength of their arms and their motivation. “In 2021, we received part of the funds from public collections and thanks to the endowment fund,” says Václavík. Last month, Břeclav city council also took the decision to support the project by lending 5,000 square meters of land to the Brontosaurus movement so that they could implement the Krče floodplain park project. “The city council accepted this plan very positively, and approved the loan. We look forward to the implementation of our priorities and we are happy that Brontosaurus have taken over this place in this way,” said Jakub Matuška, Deputy Mayor of Břeclav.

“But, money, land and work will take several years,” admits Václavík. For the moment, “in order to be able to manage the land now, we can borrow it, the loan is free, the rent is paid,” but the need to raise funds remains. The organisation aims to buy the land little by little, in order to anchor the project in the long term. Even if the workforce is mostly voluntary, it will also be necessary to plan for other expenses, such as buying all the equipment necessary for the good running of operations and working on the water network. “The water network surrounds the entire complex. As part of water management work in the 1970s, major changes were made to the water system. We will use the existing supply and discharge system to which we will connect,” he says. Fortunately, “there is also a high groundwater level, so it is not difficult to transport water.”

The lands around Břeclav and the Dyje River are floodplains. Photo credit: Ardea Břeclav, Brontosaurus

A refuge for fauna and flora

In the long term, the team hopes to make the park a refuge for fauna and flora. “We would also like to attract more water birds and amphibians to the area,” says Václavík. Wetlands and swamps are particularly important places from an ecological point of view, and are home to a large number of species. Some, like birds or insects, specifically need this type of habitat to reproduce. Current pressures due to human activity that weigh on ecosystems, in particular global warming, make them more vulnerable. It is therefore all the more important to offer nature refuges that we take care of. 

The branch of the Brontosaurus Movement in Ardea Břeclav is called “Ardea”, the Latin name for the heron, a long-legged bird that lives in coastal areas and swamps. Photo Credit: Freepik

The park, close to the city centre, should be open to the public during the second half of the year, but the work, the long and meticulous restoration of a functioning ecosystem, will take years. “We want to learn from this site how to acquire similar places, how to take care of them and pass on this experience and know-how to other people. We want to use this example to motivate similar actions and projects in other places,” explains the association.

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