Although Natura 2000 network sites in the South Bohemian region of the Czech Republic and in southern Slovakia have legal protection and base management plans, management is still insufficient in many sites to improve the conservation status of species and habitats of Community importance (including priority ones) that are considered to be of ?unfavourable? or ?unfavourable-bad? status. Until now, habitats have decreased in size and suffered degradation, with resulting negative trends in species composition and population size. The loss of species biotopes, in particular, reduces the possibility of natural population recovery. The main ongoing threats to habitats and species in Natura 2000 networks sites include the abandonment of traditionally-managed pastures and meadows and their overgrowth with dense vegetation, shrubs and trees; the spread of invasive species; changes to water regimes in wetland and peat bog habitats caused by drainage; intensive forest management and the removal of old trees; and the termination of pollarding and grazing in willow stands.
The main aim of CZ-SK SOUTH LIFE is the long-term improvement in conservation status of priority habitats in 25 Natura 2000 network sites in the South Bohemia region of the Czech Republic and in 30 sites in southern Slovakia. Specific project objectives will target a range of species and habitats that are listed as a priority for conservation in the Habitats Directive.
The endemic plant species Gentianella praecox subsp. bohemica*: Expansion of the species? habitat; Stabilisation and further increase of the species? population; and Ensuring sustainable after-life management based on the best practice.
The ground beetle Carabus menetriesi subsp. pacholei*: Improvement in suitable active raised bogs habitat; Expansion of the species biotope; and Increase of the population.
The hermit beetle Osmoderma eremita*: Maintenance of the current species biotopes and their further expansion; and Increase of the population.
Grassland habitats (1340*, 1530*, 6110*, 6120*, 6210*, 6250*, 6260*): Restoration and increasing coverage of the habitats; and Ensuring optimal and sustainable management in the long term.
Forest habitats (91D0*, 91E0*, 91N0*): Restoration and expansion of the habitats.
Expected results: Improvement of the conservation status of priority species: Improving the conservation status of endemic species Gentianella praecox subsp. bohemica and increasing its population by at least 10%; Enlarging the habitat of priority species by 8.8 ha - an increase of 50% compared to the present state; Population of the hermit beetle (Osmoderma eremita) increased by over 10%, with an increase in suitable habitats by 50%; 1 000 existing cavity trees stabilised with improved health conditions, 300 willows with restored pollarding, and 1 500 new trees planted to secure habitat continuity; and Extension of the ground beetle (Carabus menetriesi pacholei) habitat by 20 ha and an increase in the population by 15%.
Priority habitats restored on following areas: Active raised bogs (7110*) restored on 79 ha by sensitive and nature-friendly mowing; Bog woodlands (91D0*) restored on 125 ha and enlarged by 20 ha by restoring the degraded forest stands, with the water regime improved on 13 ha; Alluvial forests (91E0*) restored on over 100 ha, with 31 000 native trees planted to restore degraded areas and invasive plants removed on more than 47 ha; Conservation status of priority grassland habitats improved on 225 ha, sustainable and nature-friendly grazing management restored on 210 ha; 2 000 m of drainage channels removed; and 42 ha of salt marsh habitats with restored water regime.
Moreover: At least 25 new jobs created, followed by significant indirect employment growth; Increased tourist numbers at selected project sites; Strengthened self-sufficiency of at least 10 local communities; Involvement of at least 10 NGOs, and research and educational institutions; Increased public interest and support from local communities and key stakeholders for nature conservation; and Replication of the best practice methods developed by the project achieved on a minimum of 20 other sites.