We want to keep these precious isolated pieces of nature from disappearing from our landscape so that they can remain here for future generations of plants, animals, and people.

This is why we protect and cultivate natural sites that have managed to retain a healthy habitat or have the potential to regain one with the right care and expert management.

In ecology, the word refugium means refuge. A safe space where species can survive. An isolated island of favorable conditions in an otherwise unfavorable environment.

What we do
Buying land, working with locals

Besides caring for the main site, we also always try to gradually acquire the adjacent plots to create a buffer zone between the site and the surrounding landscape. We maintain good working relationships with the local environmental associations or branches of state institutions, who often help us in our efforts.

Biological assessment of the site

When we first get to a new site, whether we found it ourselves or received a tip, our first job is to ascertain what condition it’s in. Sometimes, we can rely on existing surveys and supplement them with our own monitoring, but in other times we are the first to explore the site.

Long-term management of the site

After a site is restored, a rigorous regular maintenance period must follow. As time goes by and nature is able to recover and thrive, care and human intervention become less and less necessary.

Some sites are in such good shape that radical “tools” such as complete restoration aren’t even necessary. In these cases, we just continue caring for the land as its previous custodians have done.

Restoration project

After buying the site and conducting any necessary surveys, the next step is restoration, which should breathe new life into the damaged land. This may entail digging pools, removing invasive plants, and putting an end to drainage ditches and canals. Once a restoration project has been developed, we negotiate with the authorities and only get to work once the relevant permits have been granted. This entire process can take months or even years.

Follow-up activities

As we mentioned in Step 2, once we arrive at a site we immediately try to contact the local environmental community. Our work wouldn’t be possible without maintaining good relationships in the location of each site, not only because local experts are generally our best advisers, but because they result in amazing events such as the several-day-long meeting of natural scientists we organize every year in Slavonice.

Measuring biodiversity

Once a few years have passed after our initial work on a site, we conduct another round of surveys to determine its level of biodiversity. We do this in order to check how much our activities have helped develop species diversity and how long the process took. The data is also an important “piece of evidence” for our investors, who can see that our efforts are having an impact.

Is it needed?
Nature, and its vital importance to humans and the planet in the form of biodiversity and ecosystems services, is in decline around the world. Of the estimated eight million known species of plants and animals, one million are facing extinction. If nothing changes, millions more species will no longer be with us in the coming decades.
This is one of the conclusions of the most comprehensive report to date on the state of the planet’s biodiversity, released in 2019 by the UN’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) panel.

Nearly 500 scientists, including some from the Czech Republic, helped put together the document. They drew on more than 1,500 studies from all over the world, a monumental shared effort.

In its report, the IPBES named the main factors that have caused nature to suffer so drastically:
Land-use change

More powerful technologies have intensified the use of agriculture, livestock farming, fishing, and forest management. Landscape fragmentation and overall land degradation have also increased.
Resource extraction

Did you know that the Earth’s population and the average per capita consumption rate quadrupled between 1970 and 2010? People now need more water and other natural resources than ever before.
Air pollution

Scientists warn that greenhouse gas emissions (mainly carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide) were the greatest driver being air pollution. This problem is directly linked to climate change.
Invasive alien species

Nearly a fifth of the Earth’s surface is at risk from plant and animal invasions. Stronger invasive species have easily displaced native ones. The species composition of entire ecosystems is changing to the detriment of biodiversity.
Climate change

Rising average global temperatures have resulted in the accelerated melting of glaciers, rising sea levels, and ocean acidification. In the Czech Republic, we’re experiencing more dangerous heat days, less snow, and an increase in extreme weather events, especially episodes of drought.
Water and soil pollution

Biodiversity is significantly affected by eutrophication, i.e. overfertilization. In habitats naturally poor in nutrients, the adding of extra nutrients (runoff from surrounding fields) will gradually devastate competitively weaker and rare species.

The IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is available here.
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