“Moravian Amazon” set to enjoy protected status after decades of debate


The confluence of the Morava and Dyje rivers in South Moravia is set to be declared a protected landscape area, the Ministry of Environment has just announced. The “Moravian Amazon”, as it is sometimes referred to, contains the largest complex of alluvial forests in Central Europe – and may even be declared a national park in the future.

Considered one of the most beautiful areas in the whole of Moravia, Soutok (literally “confluence”) contains many rare and endangered species of animals, such as the common hornbill or the golden eagle. However, it is perhaps best-known for the ancient oaks that look on to the meandering flows of water in the surrounding wetlands.

Talks between the local forest administration and environmentalists about whether this area should become a protected zone have been dragging on for more three decades.

However, on Monday the Ministry of the Environment and the regional South Moravian government jointly announced that Soutok will become a protected landscape area.

Deputy Environment Minister Petr Hladík explained the reasoning behind this step.

“The area is home to many types of fauna and flora that cannot be seen anywhere else in Czechia. That’s because they are specifically dependent on this type of woodland biotype.

“It’s necessary to protect these species and this is precisely why we need to set up fitting forest management rules. For example, trees need to be felled on a selective basis, not cut down en masse.”

Lower in terms of protection status than national parks, protected landscape areas nevertheless do enable the state to set restrictions on businesses and local administrations in order to protect the natural habitat which they delineate.

Mr Hladík, who is expected to be appointed minister of the environment later this month, says that Soutok could eventually be raised to national park status.

“However, right now, it makes more sense to go ahead and declare Soutok a protected landscape area, monitor how this affects approaches to local forest and landscape management and, possibly, establish a national park in the core parts of the area.”

In its revised manifesto, published last week, the government pledged to prepare the necessary documentation for the establishment of a natural park in Soutok. It also announced its aim to award the same status to the Křivoklátsko area in Central Bohemia, though there have been few advances when it comes to agreeing on the specifics of the plan with local administrative authorities.

Soutok is already well established as a popular area for visitors to Moravia. The future minister, who previously served as deputy mayor of regional capital Brno, says that this is because the area’s landscape is not just naturally beautiful, but also practical to navigate.

“It’s flat, valley-like terrain makes it very attractive for tourists, especially hikers and cyclists. It is also very close to the Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape.

“I’d say the ideal way to explore this whole area for visitors is to rent a bike and ride through it. The nature of the terrain also makes it a very accessible place for families with children.”

The UNESCO-listed Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape is one of the largest of its kind in Europe and houses the famous neo-gothic Lednice Castle, among the most visited sites in the country.