Refugium | News

For a Third Year in a Row, People Who Care About Nature Met at the Slavonice Colloquium

Another year has come and gone and we had the opportunity to welcome a dozen naturalists, friends of the environment, and colleagues from the government and state nature conservation offices to Slavonice. The title of the two-day colloquium was “Stone Upon Stone.”

Although the title may suggest it, the meeting was not about geology. It’s a very loose reference to one of the Nedvěd Brothers’ most famous songs. This time, our meeting was on the transformation of landscapes, stories connected with beginnings and ends, whether of specific animal and plant species, habitats, entire ecosystems or environmental restarts and renewal.

The 40 participants in the colloquium weren’t just locals from Slavonice or Jindřichův Hradec, but visitors from more far-flung parts of Bohemia and Moravia. In addition to the nine presentations, the group also attended the opening of Barbara Hrušková’s photographs, a screening of Water Lost and Returned (Radek Plíhal, 2023) and The World According to My Dad (Marta Kovářová, 2023), and toured the newly revitalized wetland near Maříž, which are managed by Refugium.

Who gave talks and what were they about?

Entomologist Dušan Trávníček from the Museum of Southeast Moravia in Zlín presented the story of the Kurovický quarry, its restoration, and current flora and fauna. The Kurovický quarry natural monument is definitely worth the visit, especially during the May Newt Festival.

Ecologist Pavel Pokorný from the Říční krajina association gave a short, regionally themed presentation on peat bogs, their evolution, and the history hidden within them, which can often only be revealed by peaking below the surface.

Entomologist Pavel Bezděčka from the Museum of Vysočina in Jihlava presented a paper entitled Central European Passage, or Talking About Non-Native Species. He revealed how the continents and our landscape have changed, what species have passed through them, and how this evolution (and changes in the fauna and flora) is continuous and constant.

Vojtěch Čada from the Department of Forest Ecology at the Faculty of Forestry and Wood Sciences of the Czech University of Life Sciences gave a lecture on forest development and how important “disruptions” are for forest ecosystems. He also tried to answer the question of how forests can help us mitigate the effects of climate change and the crisis in biodiversity.

The next presentation was by the ornithologist Kryštof Chmel from the Czech Ornithological Society and manager of the Zbudovská Blata Bird Park, which is the fifth park created by the COS. This once wetland paradise is gradually being restored after suffering a drastic amount of drainage thanks to donors who contributed several million crowns, which went towards the purchase of the land.

Biologist and biodiversity assessment expert Fernando Mateos-Gonzalez from ALKA Wildlife presented a bold paper entitled “Money for Nature.” He focused on the biodiversity credit system and how it could help inject much needed funds into nature restoration.

Jan Matějů from the Museum of Karlovy Vary, a naturalist and important promoter of the fauna of the Doupovské Mountains and Central Poohří gave a talk called “On the Frog and the Digger, or How the Natterjack Toad Lives in Quarries, Pits, and Dumps in Northwest Bohemia.

This was followed by two speakers from Refugium, Filip Lysák and Přemysl Kavan, who prepared a summary of the Maříž wetland revitalization project. Filip, the author of the project, focused on the characteristics of the site, the preparation of the revitalization and its process, while Přemysl spoke about drones, or more specifically how advanced drone imagery of the site and its subsequent processing by the right software can help provide a detailed overview of the changes to it over time.

Martin Škorpík, head of the Department of Special Nature Conservation in Podyjí National Park, concluded the two-day event with a presentation on how the landscape of the entire Central Podyjí region has changed over the last 200 years and what we can take inspiration from today.

A huge thanks to all the speakers, artists, and participants, as well as to our lovely hosts from Spolkový dům Slavonice, who provided us great support for a third year in a row. Looking forward to the next year!