Czech Republic to have more primeval forests

Virgin - or primeval - forests are rare in this part of the world where logging and tourism have taxed Nature to a considerable extent. Now there are efforts to try and restore Nature's bounty for future generations. In addition to protecting existing nature reserves Czech environmentalists are trying to create new ones. If all goes well in several hundred years' time there should be new primeval forests in the north and eastern parts of the country.

Photo: Nový prales
Two years ago environmentalists in North Bohemia set about transforming an ordinary piece of forestland into a virgin forest such as existed before the onset of extensive agriculture. They are helping Nature to re-create a multi-culture forest where nothing will be touched and where trees will fall and deteriorate in a natural way. The idea was well received and members of the public even bought primeval forest gift certificates to help the project financially. Plans are now afoot to create a primeval forest in the eastern part of the Czech Republic, on roughly 30 hectares of forestland. It is already a multi-culture forest where there's been no logging for years which makes it an ideal site. All it will need is a little extra help and a lot of protection. Frantisek Barta, who heads the Zelezne Hory Nature Reserve explains more about the project:

"The aim is to preserve the best parts of forestland for future generations -by protecting them from all human intervention. It is important to let Nature take over and not to plant any breeds that were not originally here, which means that we are striving for a multiculture of firs, beeches, spruces, but also linden trees, maple trees, ash trees, elms and yews. And we need a mix of trees of all ages -which is something you rarely get nowadays because of logging and re-planting. Also this diversity in age breeds a diversity in animals and insects -which are linked to diversity in flora."

Since mushroom picking and walking in the forest are popular pastimes in the Czech Republic people are naturally curious about whether the establishment of primeval forests will restrict their movements. To some extent it will, although people will not be asked to stay out altogether. The rules will be the same as those in existing nature reserves - some parts will be off limits, in others people will not be allowed to stray from the established paths for hikers. Certainly picking forest fruit will be prohibited. But environmentalists promise that the sacrifice will be worth it - if not for us then for our descendants who will be able to admire a real virgin forest in 300 years' time.