Fen meadow
near Mutišov
Fen meadow
near Mutišov
A valuable strip of land between South Bohemia and western Moravia and only a few kilometers from the Austrian border. This inconspicuous shallow valley consists of original wet meadows with small peat bogs, strewn with spots of high natural value.
fen meadow
The land is in the shape of a 570-meter-long strip filled by a stream bed formed by an unnamed tributary of the Mutišov Brook. For the most part, it’s covered by relatively dense meadow vegetation, but in its northwestern corner it transitions into a forest of alder trees. In several places, there are springs around which the original meadows turn into peat bogs, more precisely–fens.
3 hectares
Original wet meadow with peat bogs
A fen is a type of peatland—permanently waterlogged biotopes, where other plants (mostly sedges and reeds) instead of dead peat bogs become covered, cutting off access to air. Peat bogs in fens are darker in color and have a higher pH level. Fens are typically found in lower elevations in the Czech Republic on sites with a higher concentration of calcium and other bases (alkalis). Another important characteristic is that they draw water from below ground and not from precipitation.

This is very much reflected in the patterns that can be seen at the site. Iron is “leached” from the bedrock in the bogs, which groundwater then brings to the surface. However, the conditions topside are rather different from those underground and the chemistry and physical properties of the environment change dramatically. Bacteria, which interact differently with iron elements, also play a big role.
This produces mud ore and various colors that indicate the presence of iron (orange, like rust) and manganese (black) or oily looking stains.
This produces mud ore and various colors that indicate the presence of iron (orange, like rust) and manganese (black) or oily looking stains.
“The presence of Carex tomentosa (sedge) or Serratula tinctoria (saw-wort) likely indicates the prehistoric age of the site, meaning that the meadow we see today would be recognizable to the Celts or the first prehistoric farmers.
The site near Mutišov is a rare strip of nature that survived socialist-era collectivization and gradual transformation. It’s therefore a remnant of the time when wet meadows were a common part of the landscape and formed habitats that often exceeded the quality of todays’ nature preserves. The land is all the more valuable because it has managed to retain a nowadays rare habitat for a very, very long time.
It’s obviously connected to the so-called old settlement area, which included Znojmo and Lower Austria. Its species composition was established at that time and has been preserved to this day—a continuum from prehistory to the present day. This is the greatest value of the site. It’s just part of our natural heritage, but our cultural heritage as well.”

Filip Lysák, ecologist, member of the environmental council
Sites with a deeper peat layer are characterized by fibrous tussock-sedge (Carex appropinguata) and a local sedge species (Carex demissa). The latter is typical of low-nutrient peat habitats, and not known to grow in large populations elsewhere in the Vysočina region.

We are also pleased to find glass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia palustris), a small, white flowering, moisture-loving plant that was long-ago called heartwort, growing here. In folk medicine, it was used to treat heart disease.
The site is home to many rare plant species that have probably survived in isolated populations for thousands of years. For example, the protected bog bean (Menyanthes trifolata) and the broad-leaved marsh orchid (Dactylorhiza majalis) grow here, turning an otherwise unremarkable piece of land into a beautiful flowering meadow each spring.
Protected fauna
and flora
Due to the loss of its original habitat, grass-of-Parnassus almost entirely disappeared from the Czech countryside. Since 2000, it has been classified as a highly endangered species. At the moment, its population at the site is very small, but we believe that with the right care it can multiply and expand in the near future.
The fen meadow near Mutišov is also the habitat of the protected common snipe (Gallinago gallinago), Jack snipe (Lymnocryptes minimus), pool frog (Pelophylax lessonae), and agile frog (Rana dalmatina). The large march grasshopper (Stethophyma grossum) also apparently likes it here.
Speaking of fauna, the site is of especial importance to spiders. Entomologists have discovered 12 species that are on the current Red List of spiders of the Czech Republic, including one that is critically endangered, three that are endangered, and eight that are near threatened.

“From the point of view of arachnology, this is an exceptionally important site, especially with regard to the presence of the critically endangered wolf spider (Pardosa maisa), which was unexpectedly detected here over 80 km away from its traditional habitats in the South Moravian salt marshes and over 40 km away from the habitat discovered this year in Podyjí National Park. Other important finds include different types of preserved wetlands species such as Centromerus levitarsis, jumping spiders (Sitticus caricis), and especially the rare ray spiders (Theridiosoma gemmosum).“

Jelínek, A., Křivan, V. 2017. Survey of selected invertebrate groups at the fen meadow site near Mutišov
The now tiny strip of valuable land was once part of a much larger, roughly 13-hecatre enclave of wet meadows with native vegetation. Human activity has converted the vast majority of its area into agricultural fields.
Threats to the site
The site has also been damaged by a long-term lack of care. Left to grow unchecked, the wet meadows are overgrown with expansive species, in this case mainly bushgrass and the common reed, and will gradually become degraded. If all of the above-mentioned trends were to continue, the remaining rare sites, which now cover no more than a hectare of land in total, would likely disappear completely.
The remaining area thus suffers from both the drainage of the surrounding land and the presence of large amounts of nutrients (eutrophication) and chemical run-off from agricultural use.
Conservationists from the Czech Union for Nature Conservation Kněžnice have been maintaining the site for about 10 years. They provide a full range of practical services, include regular strategic mowing.

“A declining abandoned reedbed becomes a vibrant meadow of flowers. In 2016, in one section of the land invasive reeds were cut down, resulting in a thriving, healthy area. The reeds barely cause any problems now and more than a dozen species have settled in, increasing its biodiversity.”

Filip Lysák, ecologist, member of the environmental council
Our activities
A large-scale revitalization project was created in 2016 and we will be looking to move it forward towards implementation and realization. The work will include restoring wet meadows on the other side of the valley, removing systematic drainage, building pools, and returning the creek to its original state. We also have to deal with agricultural chemical run-off from the surrounding arable land.

Thanks to the conservationists from the Czech Union for Nature Conservation Kněžnice, the site is now in good hands. Together, we are finding out what else needs to be done to improve it and we’ll work closely together to make it happen.
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