near Maříž
near Maříž

Water-soaked meadows, alder carrs, and wetlands cared for by a beaver. A mosaic teeming with life. It has escaped human influence for many decades, allowing the original habitat to recede and a new diverse wilderness to take its place.
Currently without special legislative protection, the land is located near the village of Maříž on the historic tri-state border between Bohemia, Moravia, and Austria. Čihadlo Hill rises above it and about 3 km to the southwest lies Slavonice, a picturesque town in the Jindřichův Hradec district.
9.2 hectares
wet meadow
alder carr
“It all began with Maříž. When I started out, it never occurred to me to create an entire portfolio. Instead, I focused on a single site in order to help the amphibians thrive there and this is what I keep coming back to even now.

I searched and searched and found only meaningless plots with no water located in the middle of fields, until I found a site that changed everything. The wetland exceeded my expectations in every way, not only in the species that live there, but in the overall spirit of the place—a pristine patch of nature where everything is in harmony. In short, something very rare today. In hindsight, it’s as if I sent a signal to the universe and it responded.”
Prokop Svoboda
Founder of Refugium, a. s.
The land is a valuable natural site of local importance and irreplaceable significance.
Of significant and irreplaceable value is the healthy alder carr without any signs of eutrophication, an increasingly rare find today. The wetland is maintained by a beaver, representing a shift towards wildlife and the creation of natural self-regulatory mechanisms.
“The site’s exceptional biodiversity blends original wet meadows with endangered and protected animal and plant species.
Such a large habitat with an exceptionally well-preserved water regime provides ecosystem benefits such as water retention, self-cleaning, cooling, and biodiversity to the maximum extent. Due to its location and size, it can function on its own rather than as a fragment, which is very valuable in today’s environment.”

Mgr. Filip Lysák, Maříž Survey Report, June 22nd, 2021
The beavers took advantage of the green belt left behind after the fall of the Communist regime. The belt caused a low embankment to be created in the valley behind the above-mentioned pond, which included a culvert that the beaver plugged, resulting in a very decent sealed wetland. Today, water flows freely over the overgrown and beaver-cut embankment of the former Iron Curtain. The flooded alder growth is gradually drying up as the beaver cuts down the trees along the banks and gnaws on the herbaceous vegetation around the wetland.

Beavers moved into the area after the removal of the Iron Curtain. The original wet meadows above the pond, which border the site, were overgrow with alder trees at the time. Parts had also degraded to stands of wood scabious and reed canary grass.
Wetland maintained
by beavers
Something else the beavers’ activities have caused is that this part of the site is now less accessible and visible, which is a good thing for the environment. The site is now wild and largely impenetrable, a poignant metaphor for how the border used to function.
Beavers’ return to Czech meadows is significant from a biological perspective because the animal helps revitalize the landscape. Habitats created by beavers have a far better quality of biodiversity than those that are man-made.
Tufted loosestrife
(Lysimachia thyrsiflora)

Bog bean
(Menyanthes trifoliata)

Marsh cinquefoil
(Comarum palustre)

(Tephroseris crispa)
and endangered plants
Tufted loosestrife
(Lysimachia thyrsiflora)
Bog bean
(Menyanthes trifoliata)
(Tephroseris crispa)
Marsh cinquefoil
(Comarum palustre)
European tree frog (Hyla arborea)
Common spadefoot (Pelobates fuscus)
European toad (Bufo bufo)
Agile frog (Rana dalmatina)
Common frog (Rana temporaria)
Edible frog (Pelophylax esculentus)
Pool frog (Pelophylax lessonae)
Northern crested newt (Triturus cristatus)
Smooth newt (Lissotriton vulgaris)
Alpine newt (Ichthyosaura alpestris)
Smooth snake (Coronella austriaca)
Grass snake (Natrix natrix)
Slow worm (Anguis fragilis)
Viviparous lizard (Zootoca vivipara)
Species confirmed
by a zoological survey
European fire-bellied toad (Bombina bombina)
– based on current records in the vicinity of Landštejn, previously in Slavonice based on archival records (AOPK database)
Moor forg (Rana arvalis)
– current findings confirmed its presence near the site’s boundary
Amphibian species
we support
In cooperation with the Wetlands Association, we also excavated eight amphibian pools in the wetland park. In just a short time, they were occupied by the smooth newt, the agile frog, and the European tree frog.
Under the supervision of Mgr. Filip Lysák, we are preparing a project for the complex, large-scale revitalization of the site. One of the main objectives is to prevent agrochemicals and unwanted nutrients from the surrounding agricultural land from entering the site. We also want to restore the water regime in some parts of the site.
Our activities
With the help of the entire Hotel Pivoňka team, we also carry out regular habitat maintenance drives—sensitively pruning trees, mowing meadows by hand, and caring for the creek bed.

We are happy to leave much of the management of the wetland park to the beaver and his family. Their natural impact on the site is far better than anything humans can do, and so we’re making sure that beavers continue to thrive here.
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