in Mácha Country
in Mácha Country
In the northern part of the Kokořín region, near famous Lake Mácha, lies the less well-known Heřmaničky Pond. Aside from conservationists, it’s visited only by locals and a few intrepid hikers. But even they are unlikely to notice the land that lies below the dam of this pond.

This once precious environment has been severely damaged by human behavior. Left untended, it’s rapidly becoming overgrown and is in a very poor condition. We would like to work hard on making it better.
Former wetland meadows
The land is located on the northern edge of the Kokořín-Mácha region, in a shallow valley below the Heřmaničky Pond dam. In the past, it must have contained a large amount of water that never ran off, but was retained in and on the soil. In many parts, it has a peaty character. It’s estimated that the site formerly consisted of moor and sedge meadows, peat bogs, and possibly a small wetland.

5,4 hectares
Drained meadows
Non-native birch trees
Small peat bogs

The land’s original vegetation may have resembled that in the Okřešické meadows—a natural monument only a few kilometers away. These are lovely wet meadows, home to a number of species of meadow orchids (e.g. the broad-leafed marsh orchid, heat spotted-orchid, lesser butterfly-orchid), the Siberian iris, and dozens of specially protected animals, most of them invertebrates.
When it comes to our site near Heřmaničky Pond, unfortunately the Mácha region didn’t avoid the last century’s systematic drainage of land on a massive scale. Even today, five open drainage ditches remain and function very efficiently, sadly to the detriment of nature.

They all flow into a larger drainage ditch that runs roughly down the axis of the valley below the dam and serves as an outlet when the pond is fished out, and so it’s full of mud.

Old issues
The drained site also has to deal with the decades-old problem of eutrophication. It was previously surrounded by fields (now pastures), which brought large amounts of nutrients to its soil. Other undesirable nutrients were then released by the gradual decomposition of the drained, drying peat bogs.

All of this, combined with the long absence of farming, has given rise to expansive plant species. Much of the degraded grassland has gradually disappeared under dense infestations of birch strands, shrub willows, reeds, and rushes. Unfortunately, there is no preserved or valuable vegetation left anymore.
This is also true for the water violet (hottonia palustris), which grows in one of the open drainage ditches and clearly likes it there. This herb seeks out mesotrophic (medium nutrient content) stagnant or slow-flowing waters, typically ditches or the arms of rivers.

In the Czech Republic, the water violet is a rare plant and, as an endangered species, is protected by law. Therefore, we’re very happy that it’s thriving in our site.

All is not lost, however. The site is still home to species of animals and plants worthy of our attention. Some have even managed to survive in difficult conditions, and others have even found refuge and thrived here.
of hope
In recent years, biological surveys have also confirmed the presence of other rare species. These include the plants sharp-flowered rush (Juncus acutiflorus) and the shining meadow rue (Thalictrum lucidum), the highly endangered butterfly scarce large blue (Phengaris teleius), or the critically endangered common crane (Grus grus).
Our priority is to restore its water retention system, its grassland biotope, and create and provide conditions for a wide range of biodiversity.”

“The condition of the site below Heřmaničky Pond requires a radical solution, but one that respects the good things that remain on the land or have been newly created, such as the relatively large population of water violets in the drainage ditch or the remnants of more valuable strands of moor meadows that attract rare bluebirds.

Plan for
Filip Lysák, Refugium ecologist and author of the upcoming project
Our goal of protecting and restoring conditions for grassland and wetland biodiversity can be boiled down to four main points:
Remediation work

First, it’s necessary to reduce the number of woody plants (especially the non-native birch strands) on the site. The previous owner had already started this work in order to make the site more attractive to potential buyers. This process ceased during the course of the sale, but now needs to continue and be completed.

It will also be necessary to significantly reduce the dense strands of reeds and other expansive plants that thrive in this nutrient-rich valley. We can do this by removing sod and detritus.

Among other things, this should lead to an awakening of the seed bank and play a role in the gradual return of native species.

Restoration work

We will start by filling in (disturbing) the drainage ditches in such a way as not to harm the water violets that grow in some of them. Then we will use the soil collected after dredging several pools to fill in the ditches.

The main, large ditch, which is owned by local fishermen, will also require some work. We hope to reach an agreement with them on draining the pond so that a large amount of mud won’t enter our site.

Moreover, we will focus on the creation of a more natural, meandering revitalized channel to replace the artificially straight drainage ditches, support the small peat bogs that still remain in the northwest corner of the site, and create a wetland in place of the reedbed in the middle of the land.


All of our efforts won’t have a lasting, sustainable effect without follow-up care and tailored management.

The plant community in the restored areas needs to be helped by regular mowing, which will not only ensure a good amount of light for seedling plants and allow a wider range of species to thrive, but will also remove excess nutrients from the site.

To restore native, natural species to the site, we’re also thinking about using hay or seeds collected from the nearby meadows in Okřešice, which are similar in nature.

Target condition

At the end of this several-year-long journey, the landscape should be free of the damage committed to it in the past and of any negative phenomena and influences. The result will be a landscape that’s ready to regulate itself and continues to thrive without much external human maintenance.

“I’m hoping that the water retention system will be fully restored and we’ve also proposed another pond that will help the site during periods of rainfall deficits. I believe the project will create a diverse mosaic of grassland and fen habitats that will provide a haven for many rare plant and animal species. Simply put, a refuge in the best sense of the word.”

Filip Lysák, Refugium ecologist and author of the upcoming project
The Kokořín region is known mainly as a landscape with many sandstone rock formations. It’s an exceptional place with an equal amount of forested and non-forested areas, a wide variety of ecosystems for such a relatively small territory, acidic rainforest pine trees (especially around Doksy in its northern part), and extensive wetlands.

We’re well aware that it’s an area with a very high natural value that has been cared for by many people from the past to the present in order to preserve it for future generations. We therefore began by consulting our plans and vision for the site with conservationists from the Kokořín-Mácha region, a regional workplace of the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic.

Our site is located near Česká Lípa, on the northern edge of the Kokořín-Mácha region protected area.

It’s one of the larger protected landscape areas in the Czech Republic and consists of two unconnected territories—the bigger Kokořín region, which became a PLA in 1976, and the smaller Mácha region, which was awarded this status in 2014 and includes the popular Doksy and Mácha lakes. Our site is located in the smaller of the territories.

Wider context
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