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Bořena Team has been protecting nature in České Středohoří for thirty years already

Ústí nad Labem - 15 September 2009

 At the end of September 1979, a group of students from Bílina and Prague established the Bořena Team with the aim to get acquainted with nature development in České Středohoří. Thus, this association, originally informal, will celebrate thirty years of its existence this year. "Originally, we wanted to study nature development since prehistoric times up to the present, with the aim to reconstruct the form of the environment surrounding the prehistoric people (1). A few years later, we found that it would be more useful to protect the existing nature from complete destruction through industrial activities, and, in 1983, we started to prepare the transfer of endangered plant species from the places in front of the Radovosice dump of the giant coal mine Maxim Gorkij, nowadays Bílina Mines," described the beginnings of the Bořena Team its founder, RNDr. Jindřich Petrlík. Nowadays, after thirty years of activity, eight of the nine transferred endangered plant species do well in the new sites (2). "Thus, we succeeded, for example, in maintaining the western border of the natural range of rare golden flax, the site of which was originally protected by the nature reserve Belak, which does not exist anymore," specified Petrlík.

Doc. RNDr. Karel Kubát, CSc., a botanist who provided an expert consultancy to the Team from its beginnings, said, concerning the plant transfer by the Bořena Team: "I supported this project from its beginning, although I'd rather not promote plant transfers otherwise. However, in this case, extensive biotope destruction will take place, and, because of that, plant transfer was the better option."

"We were also sorry that plants and animals in the Radovesice Valley near Bílina could not stay in their original sites. We had read about examples of foreign environmental movements and organisations trying to prevent similar destruction of nature, and to stop projects similar to the Radovesice dump in time. When we found out that, within the framework of the supervised official structures, this was not practically possible, we established an environmental initiative Děti Země (Children of the Earth) in September 1989 (3), and, in a number of cases, we succeeded in preventing similar projects in their early stages already. However, simultaneously, we have taken care of the sites where we transferred the endangered plants from the Radovesice Valley," explained Petrlík the further development of the Bořena Team.

In the present time, the Bořena Team is a land trust incorporated into the Nature Protection Programme of the Arnika Association, established by a part of the former members of Children of the Earth in 2001 (4). Bořena is a continuation of the First Republic tradition of the so-called land trusts establishing a kind of private nature reserves. Protection within the framework of the land trust resides in taking over "auspices" over certain site in the way that the trust buys or rents the land it intends to protect. "This is a well-tried way of nature protection in concrete sites. Its aim is maintenance of species diversity of the local landscape damaged by long-term coal mining, but also by other insensitive human interventions, such as disproportionate construction activities, drainage of land and stone mining," characterised the subject of activity of the land trust Ing. Jana Vitnerova, leader of the Nature Protection Programme of the Arnika Association.

The volunteers and members of the Bořena Team pay attention, in particular, to three sites - the so-called white slopes in Kankov and under Lipska Hora, and to the wetlands under the hill Holibka near Razice. A part of the care provided by the Bořena Team to the above-mentioned sites is an annual cutting of grass, and, optionally, removal of spontaneously growing woody plants and overall cleaning of the sites. "Plant transfer, and subsequent care of their new sites, is the most visible activity of the Bořena Team, however, it is not the only success of the thirty-years period of its existence, by far (5). The people from the Bořena Team contributed to gathering knowledge about environmental impacts of the Radovesice dump as a whole, and collected important information on white slopes in the western part of České Středohoři," mentioned Jana Vitnerova.

This activity could not be possible without help of volunteers - dozens of them contributed to the Bořena Team activities during the thirty years. "People may contribute not only through their personal work, but also financially - through symbolic sponsorship of plants, or contribution to the Bořena Team activity. The obtained financial means will then enable, for example, buying or renting other pieces of land, ensuring their protection and development, and promoting activities for protection of České Středohoří nature," added Jana Vitnerova. The contribution may be made, for example, through an internet market on Arnika's web pages (6). This week, further regular working weekend will also take place (7), and the Team plans to extend its activities to further sites.

 


Notes and annexes:

(1) The Bořena Team continued the activities of the former archaeological group at the high school in Bílina, working under the supervision of archaeologists from the District Museum in Teplice since 1976.

(2) The eight successfully transferred species:

  • golden flax (Linum flavum) - highly endangered, protected 
  • ground clematis (Clematis recta) - endangered, protected 
  • European michaelmas daisy (Aster amellus) - endangered, protected
  • black salsify (Scorzonera hispanica) - highly endangered, protected
  • snowdrop anemone (Anemone sylvestris) - endangered, protected 
  • spider plant (Anthericum ramosum) -  endangered, protected 
  • spring snowflake (Leucojum vernum) - endangered, protected 
  • Alpine squill (Scilla bifolia) - highly endangered, protected
    For more information about these plants please see
    www.biodiverzita.arnika.org/kvetena.

(3) The first newspaper article about Bořena Team and Children of the Earth was published in the Svobodne Slovo newspaper on November 18, 1989.

(4) The organisational development of Bořena Team was historically interesting, and, to certain extent, documents also the development of the environmental movement in the Czech Republic:

1979-1981 – informal group of students focusing rather on research work

1981-1985 – group of students organising summer camps within the framework of the Brontosaurus Movement on the Faculty of Natural Science of the University of J.E. Purkyne in Brno (now, Masaryk University)

1985-1989 – basic organisation of the Czech Union for Nature Conservation in Prague (in the Teplice district, activity of the Bořena Team was not permitted within the framework of the Czech Union for Nature Conservation)

1989-2001 – one of the branches of the citizens association Children of the Earth
2001-2007 – basic organisational unit of the Arnika Association
since 2008 up to now – independent project of the Nature Protection Programme of the Arnika Association

(5) Successes of the Bořena Team:

1982-1986 – mapping and description of the most abundant site of endangered St. Bernard's Lily (Anthericum liliago) in České Středohoří

1985-1994 – transfer of 9 endangered plant species from the places in front of the Radovosice dump to new sites

1984 – study Radovesice Dump and its Impacts on its Surroundings placed first in the Student Scientific Expert Activity on the Faculty of Natural Science of the University of J.E. Purkyně in Brno, and it became also the first summary study assessing environmental impacts of the dump

1986 – study Landscape Analysis and Synthesis for the purposes of nature protection on the territory of České Středohoří with original geomorphological map of the western part of České Středohoří

1996 – Bořena Team gained auspices over the first site with the transferred plants - white slope under Lipska Hora

Bořena Team contributed to designation of nature reserve Trupelnik (designated in 2001) in the way that it transferred some of the endangered plant species of white slopes just to this site, and it has regularly monitored it.

2007 – mapping of the state of the so-called white slopes in the western part of České Středohoří and near Ohre river, i.e., of often neglected sites with typical occurrence of a number of endangered plant species

2008 – Bořena Team gained auspices over another white slope - in Kankov.

(6) For details, please see: www.biodiverzita.arnika.org/sponzorovani-ohrozenych-rostlin

(7) During the weekend dated September 19 - 20, the Bořena Team, together with German volunteers, will carry out autumn maintenance of sites where protected and endangered plants species occur, in the so-called white slopes. The programme will include grass cutting, removal of spontaneously growing woody plants and cleaning of the sites, and then, on Sunday, guided excursion focusing on white slopes flora. For details, please see: www.priroda.arnika.org/akce/vikendovy-tabor-s-tymem-borena

Bořena Team pages: www.biodiverzita.arnika.org/pozemkovy-spolek-borena  



Annex: Article of J. Petrlík for the magazine Nika (1994)

State and Communist Party authorities decided to destroy Radovesice Valley in close neighbourhood of the Protected Landscape Area České Středohoří in the 1960s. Giant brown coal mine near Bílina in northern Bohemia had to place somewhere tons of waste rock from almost two-hundred-meters thick layer over the brown coal seam. Thus, it was decided to bury Radovesice and the surrounding landscape.

The Radovesice dump is the same disaster for the valley of the same name as big dams for other valleys in the world. In South America, WWF (World Wildlife Fund) transferred animals from tropical forest sacrificed to dam construction to safe places. Bořena Team, established in 1979 already by a group of students of high school in Bílina, has been transferring endangered plant species from the places in front of the growing mountain of waste rock since 1985. Whereas the Bořena Team is saving plants in northern Bohemia, bigger animals are able to escape without assistance. However, the small ones, especially spiders and mites, are lost just after being discovered as completely new species in the biological world.

Until now, we succeeded in transferring in total nine plant species from three different site types. Seven of them have already settled in their new sites.

From the former protected locality Belak, the following species has been transferred to new so-called "white slopes": golden flax (Linum flavum), European michaelmas daisy (Aster amellus), snowdrop anemone (Anemone sylvestris), black salsify (Scorzonera hispanica), ground clematis (Clematis recta), and spider plant (Anthericum ramosum). Spring snowflake (Leucojum vernum) and Alpine squill (Scilla bifolia) were moved from Lukovsky creek to Mukovsky creek. The more-or-less rutted field road near Radovesice was the only place in the Czech Republic where a small grass Juncus sphaerocarpus (rush) occurred. We tried to sow it in a new site, but its ecesis there has not been successful yet.

Recently, attention of the Bořena Team has moved in particular to sites where the plants found their new refuge. It has auspices over them, and is trying to maintain suitable conditions for survival of the plants there.

However, our experiences show that nature cannot be simply transferred to some place where it will more suit us, and "obstruct" less. Because of that, the Bořena Team is trying to maintain it in the places where it still fulfils its function of living fabric of landscape.  The landscape from which human beings demand more and more.

Because of that, and in addition to transferring endangered plant species, the Bořena Team has started to be involved also in preservation of a specific ecosystem with occurrence of a number of protected plants - so called "white slopes" - this year. The first step in preserving white slopes in our landscape is determination in which state they really are nowadays. This determination was carried out by students from the Bořena Team and volunteers who came to help them, during August touring camp.

Additional Info
Arnika: Nature Protection Programme