Smědá meanders
The Smědá River meanders through Frydlant and the area beyond, where the Czech border juts out into Poland. The river’s natural undulations, exposed sandy banks, and the surrounding alluvial meadows, groves, and watercourse are home to many endangered plant and animal species.
floodplain meadow
The site is located in the cadastral area of the village of Andělka in the Liberec Region. Part of the relatively large Meandry Smědá Nature Reserve, it occupies a small section of this protected landscape.

The land managed by Refugium is in the shape of a triangle, bordered on one side by a railway line and on the other by the banks of the Smědá River, whose flow is gradually carving them. Its waters slowly enter the site, creating a rich aquatic environment. For the most part, however, the location consists of a floodplain with intermittent lush vegetation, which, amounting to about a third of the land, transitions into woody areas of mostly shrubs and willow trees. The Saňský Brook, which flows into the Smědá River within the site, is also an important feature.
1.6 hectares
Left bank of the Smědá River
The Saňský Brook
Floodplain meadow
The varied composition of this Refugium site has the same characteristics as the entire nature reserve. It spans an area of 137 hectares between the villages of Černousy and Višňová, in the Frýdlant hills north of the Jizera Mountains.
The protected area is dominated by the lower reaches of the Smědá River and its meanders, dead-arms, and pools. It also includes the Dubový Pond (known as Dubák), the largest and one of the oldest water reservoirs in the Frýdlant region (its earliest mention dates back to the 16th century), extensive water-meadows, and the slopes of a valley with mostly deciduous trees.

The area was officially declared protected in 1998. The main reasons for this status at the time (and in the present) are:
The middle, lowland part of the Smědá River, which has the properties of a riverbed with numerous evolving meanders, dead-arms, and pools.
Habitats that exist due to the unpaved flow of the river, especially its sandy edges, high clay banks, and aquatic, marsh, and alluvial non-forest ecosystems.
Dubák Pond—a regionally important ornithological site with a sloping Carpinion grove with a rich herbaceous undergrowth.
The exceptionally high concentration of legally protected or otherwise rare species.
“A total of 120 vertebrate species have been found in the monitored area. Of this number, 43–47 species are particularly endangered, 5 are critically endangered, 18–19 are severely endangered, and 21–23 are endangered. It’s an extremely valuable habitat for vertebrates.”
The area hosts hundreds of species of plants and animals, such as different types of ground beetles (Carabidae). Researchers have found 128 species of this family during monitoring surveys, almost a third of all members of this beetle in the Czech Republic.

The area around the Smědá River is even more valuable in terms of the vertebrates that call it home.
RNDr. Richard Višňák, Ph.D., Meanders of the Smědá River Nature Reserve Restoration Project
A wide spectrum of fish species dwell in the Smědá River. Scientists report dozens of species, the rarest of which are the European bullhead, the burbot, and the Eurasian minnow. Also significant is a strong population of the critically endangered brook lamprey. Amphibians also thrive here, with approximately ten species recorded during monitoring surveys that include the northern crested newt and the agile frog.
In general, the Smědá River’s level of biodiversity is very high in comparison with similar places in the Czech Republic. This was also the reason for its inclusion in the European system of special areas of conservation (SAC). Together with the territory of the nature reserve, the Smědá SAC contains the river’s entire watercourse between Frýdlant and the Polish border.
The area is particularly popular among ornithologists. Already during the survey that preceded the designation of the reserve, scientists confirmed the presence of 66 bird species. More have been added in the following years.
The area is particularly popular among ornithologists. Already during the survey that preceded the designation of the reserve, scientists confirmed the presence of 66 bird species. More have been added in the following years.
“The most important species that regularly breed in the area are the common crane, the western marsh harrier, or the common kingfisher. The rarest species that have been observed to nest in this area only once are the red-necked grebe and the common merganser.”
Meanders of the Smědá River Nature Reserve Restoration Project
Some rare species of waders, such as the common snipe, the common sandpiper, or the green sandpiper, are also sometimes found in the area during the breeding season, and species significantly linked to the riparian vegetation of the Smědá River and the Dubák Pond dam (the spotted flycatcher, the middle spotted woodpecker, the Eurasian wryneck, and the Eurasian golden oriole) nest here regularly.
The highly endangered river otter has been a presence in the area for a long time.
Water arum
(Calla palustris L.)

Dwarf white water-lily
(Nymphaea candida)

Martagon lily
(Lilium martagon)

Alpine pondweed
(Potamogeton alpinus)
Identified specially
protected plant species:
Martagon lily
Dwarf white water-lily
Alpine pondweed
Water arum
Lack of care

In the middle of the 20th century, people were still farming the majority of the land in the Smědá River floodplain, but this activity later largely ceased in this area. Floodplain meadows grow very quickly and require frequent mowing or grazing, which is why they are severely degraded today.

Invasive plants

Invasive plants are massively present in the area, especially in the grasslands. These include Canada goldenrod, Himalayan balsam, the cutleaf cornflower, or the Bohemian knotweed.
Eutrophication & waste

Agriculture, the town of Frýdlant, and other settlements in the catchment area are the cause of the eutrophication of the Smědá River’s watercourse. A less pressing and largely esthetic problem is the garbage that washes out of the river and settles on its banks.
Drainage gullies

In the past, the Smědá River was drained by a system of open ditches, which were likely still maintained at the end of the last century.
Threats to the site:
With the upcoming revitalization project, we want to focus mainly on eliminating and preventing the spread of invasive plants. One of the methods used will be regular maintenance and mowing.

The next chapter will be the drainage ditches that interfere with our site. We plan to fill them in and maintain water storage by creating small retention areas.

We will also work on the Saňský Brook, which flows into the Smědá River on the property. At first glance, it looks like a natural corridor, but appearances can be misleading. Its stream bed is artificial, created at the same time as the railway line. Its apparent organic character is the result of a long process of renaturation, nature’s intrinsic rewilding process.

Unfortunately, the channel is too deep in places (up to 2 meters), which means that the surrounding meadows are draining into it. We therefore also want to revitalize the brook.

The land managed by Refugium is overgrown with invasive plants. From a conservation perspective, it would seem like a bad idea to invest in a site whose biodiversity is overrun by destructive weeds.
Planned measures
We don’t see it that way, however. We would like to create a better future and take advantage of the natural potential for renewal that still lies in wait in this geographical area. We believe that with proper care we can gradually coax the site to return to a condition in which many local endangered species of plants and animals will thrive.
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