The life of the dignified professor

There is no doubt that professors are very busy! We are often convinced about this fact by our professor Karel Prach who among all his obligations, teaching and writing of scientific articles does not forget about some joys. Before he left to France, he spent a couple of days with a world's leading expert on succession, Lars Walker. Their busy program included among others the oldest abandoned arable fields in the Czech Karst or Radovesice spoil heap. When we asked him to share their some of their experiences with us, we received only a laconic reply: "We walk into the field, sit in pubs or work (we also sleep a little)... Greetings, K"

Difficult life, isn't it? :)

Sheep on the island - second edition!

Experimental plots for the restoration of dry grasslands on the island in the middle of the Cep II sand pit were grazed again with a small flock of sheep. But this year, there were more sheep and nearly a month earlier than last year. Sheep do not like Lotus corniculatus, which started to expand in certain plots, and Calamagrostis epigejos too much and therefore it was necessary to start grazing when it is very young and juicy. And we can say that the grazing management was successful! Even Pinus trees were deprived of needles. We thank not only the management protagonists themselves, but also Alena Bartošová, the cheerful shepherdess! Last but not least, our thanks belong also to employees of the mining company - Mr. Blafka and the ferry driver who smoothly transported sheep to and from the island.

Seminar on landscape restoration after mining in Olomouc

A seminar on restoration of post-indistrial landscapes took place on 11 February in Palacký University in Olomouc. The seminar was designed not only for students and academics but also for state administration employees, NGOs and mining companies. Members of our working group - Klára Řehounková and Karel Prach - actively participated at the seminar. They presented the results from their long-term research, including current projects. Similar meetings of experts from different spheres are currently more and more abundant and ecological restoration will be hopefully more frequently used in practice.

Cep II sand pit is becomming a role model!

In today's press you can read about how it works in the Marokánka sand pit in Královéhradecký region. After finishing mining activities, most likely only forestry reclamation will be performed which is common in this country. However, there are efforts to change that and they seem to be successful. A big surprise for us was that the author of the above mentioned article gives the Cep II sand pit, our "laboratory in the field", as an example of a good practice which is visited by scientists from all around the world.

Is forestry reclamation necessary?

We, biologists, already know whether forestry reclamation in sand pits is necessary - it is not! However, new arguments need to be constantly acquired to convince also others, especially miners, foresters and land owners. One of the most common arguments for forestry reclamation in sand pits is that rapid tree planting prevents colonization by invasive tree species present in the close surrounding. Spontaneously developed areas may be prone to invasions of alien species. We know from our experience that even forestry reclamations are not totally devoid of alien species which start to grow rapidly after first thinning that creates gaps for them.

Our new student, Míla Prošková, likes this topic very much and she intends to test resistance of differently aged spontaneous and forestry reclaimed sites to invasive species in the South Bohemian sand pits.

And so, at the time of Advent, when one should reflect on his life and reassess his priorities, the Restoration ecology group established its very first, and hopefully also the last, forestry reclamation!

 

(Foto: Jiří Migl, Českomoravský štěrk, a.s.)

Preparation of the island in the Cep II sand pit

During sheep grazing on the island in the Cep II sand pit this year, we realized that the sheep don't like the vegetation that much. We have therefore chosen a radical approach and mow the whole island, cut down small Pine trees and rakes litter and mosses out. Hopefully we ensure more juicy and tasty vegetation for the next year.

We learned two important things from this experiment: 1) there is only one suitable donor locality for psamophytic vegetation - Vlkov sand dune. Lužnice terraces from which we also took biomass are already too mesophilous. 2) Transferred biomass should be dispersed in very thin layer. If the layer is too thick, it helps expansion of competitively strong mosses.

German spoil heaps up close...

We made a field trip to sample spoil heaps in Germany! Not enough to wonder how beautiful they are and how many interesting habitats and species can be found there. Together with Anita Kirmer, a colleague from Hochschule Anhalt, we travel around old spoil heaps after brown coal mining near Halle (Saxony-Anhalt). The mine pits have been usually flooded and the surrounding spoil heaps have been reclaimed to forest. But the result is not bad. Especially due to the spontaneous colonization from the surrounding area. Islands and peninsulas have been modelled in the mine lakes, banks have shallow littoral zones and if local reclamation companies did not use non-native species of shrubs and trees in the plantations (e.g. black locust, Canadian poplar or common sea-buckthorn) the impression of the new hetegouneous landscape would be great! Greetings form Klobikau spoil heap and mine lake Geiseltalsee!

Karel Prach's research fellowship in Seattle is coming to an end...

Our Restoration Ecology group works also abroad. As an example, Karel Prach has just completed his field work on a former dam on the Elwha river in the Olympic National Park in the west of Washington. He did his research during his six-month stay at the University of Washington in Seattle. On the Elwha river, two dams were demolished a few years ago because such constructions should not be in the National Park. At the same time this should enable migration of several salmon species which are traditional commodity for the Native Americans and other inhabitants. The works are part of a broader project and are coordinated by the Administration of the National Park. The goal of the project is to compare the current course of spontaneous and directed succession (sowing and planting of native species) and to answer the question whether the direction is to restore the native forests composed mainly of Pseudotsuga menziesii, Tsuga heterophylla, Thuja plicata, Acer macrophyllum and Alnus rubra. So far it seems that they can rely on spontaneous succession and thus possibly save on costly sowing and planting. On the other hand, they are a kind of advertising for the National Park and also provide jobs. However, they are not harmful to the nature, like the majority of reclamation works in our country.