Conservationist project provides pears for heirs

Illustrative photo: Josemanuel CC BY-SA 2.5

Conservationists in the National Park Bohemian Switzerland in north of the country are busy these days collecting wild pears. While they might not be exactly tasty for people, they are an important source of nutrition for a number of forest animals. The national park conservationists are now trying to collect as many seeds as possible in an attempt to re-introduce the once common fruit variety back into the park’s forests.

Illustrative photo: Josemanuel CC BY-SA 2.5
I spoke to Tomáš Salov, who is in charge of the project:

“We have to look back into the past, because most of the forests in the Czech Republic have been regarded, at least for the past 300 years, as a source of timber, so the foresters focused on timber production.

“It is not unusual to find forests with monocultures, for instance spruce monocultures. Some tree species which are typical for natural forests disappear or are quite rare to find. So that’s why we have been trying to bring these species back into the national park after it was founded in 2000.”

What trees are we talking about? Can you be more specific?

“It is quite a wide variety of trees but in this particular case we speak about wild pears, forest apples and wild cherries.”

How common are these trees in the Czech Republic nowadays?

“Well, nowadays, they are quite uncommon and if we find such a tree, we will most likely find it in a cultured landscape, such as in the field, but not very often in the forests, since most of them are still meant for timber production.”

Why is it important to have these trees in a forest?

Bohemian Switzerland,  photo: CzechTourism
“If we have monoculture forests, it has a negative impact on the biodiversity of the biotope so if we bring in a wider variety of tree species it is very likely that the biodiversity of the forest will be enriched. So simply said, it is an important source of food for lots of animals.”

How exactly does this conservation process look like?

“Actually it is a little bit like gardening. We find the tree, we collect the fruits, we bring it to a gardening school in Děčín and we get the seeds and grow small plants. And after they grow a little bit, we bring them back and find a good location to plant them.

So have you already started planting the saplings?

“Yes, we have already started. In the National Park we started three years ago with wild pears.”