The Meadows of the White Carpathians

Ivana Jongepierová

Summary: Only some meadows occur naturally in the landscape, without human intervention. These treeless woodlands are only found where unfavourable conditions prevent the growth of trees.

Some of the most extensive and species-rich meadows are found in the White Carpathians Protected Landscape Area in south-eastern Moravia on the border with Slovakia. The reasons for this richness are the subject of research conducted mainly by the scientists from Masaryk University, who assume that the origin of the White Carpathian grasslands is prehistoric.

Because of the rich representation of the orchids — both in the number of species (over 20) and in population — they are also referred to as the White Carpathian Orchid Meadows. An integral part of these meadows are scattered woody plants — solitary oaks, birches or limes or groups of trees and shrubs.

Grasslands also often include spring outcrops and meadow wetlands. Their vegetation varies according to the dynamics of the water regime and water chemistry. Countless invertebrates, especially insects, are also associated with the meadows. The existence of these grassland communities depends on regular mowing or grazing.

Just like any meadow in other parts of our country, the White Carpathian meadows had been negatively affected by socialist agriculture policies. At present, the meadows are mowed mainly by the owners and those who use the land.

Since the mid-1980s, hundreds of unmaintained hectares have been restored on steeper slopes, landslides and inaccessible areas where mowing with agricultural machinery is difficult.

Botanical monitoring has shown that on dry sites it takes only a few years to restore the original grassland. Over the last thirty years, the area of species-rich grassland has increased not only through managed restoration in unmanaged areas, but also through the grazing of arable land.

Continuous care is necessary to preserve the existing cultural and natural heritage that the White Carpathian meadows represent. Thanks to the care dedicated to the local meadows, suitable conditions for hundreds of species of plants and animals are created.