Restoration of floodplain habitats increases recreational value of the Tovačov Lakes

DSCN4149Birdwatchers in Central Moravia (the Czech Republic) can add to their  favourite patch a brand new cosy birding hide, just in time for the coming winter season. Late autumn and winter are the best times to watch migratory waterfowl at the Tovačov Lakes, cluster of gravel pits operated by Českomoravský štěrk (HeidelbergCement in CZ).

The wooden construction was designed jointly by the company and the Czech Society for Ornithology (BirdLife Partner in the Czech Republic). It was opened for visitors on 5th of October, as part of the EuroBirdwatch event.

The hide is smaller than what we planned originally, said Zdeněk Vermouzek, Director of CSO/BirdLife Partner. As the entire site is located in flood risk zone, no buildings are allowed, except for light constructions as ours. Nevertheless, the new hide was already very positively welcomed by the local birdwatchers”.


Central Europe has lost nearly all of its natural wetlands and floodplains as a result of flood protection measures and building of infrastructure. As a consequence, many important habitats, biodiversity and ecosystem services were lost. Nowadays every natural or semi-natural wetland deserves protection and attracts many birds and birdwatchers. Habitat restoration and management are very much needed to improve the conditions and manage pressures by other land uses.

The birding hide is just one small result in a bigger project. Next steps include the creation of a 6 ha island where a promontory in one of the lakes will be „cut“ from the shore by a canal. The island and the surrounding area is already covered by floodplain forest. Birds and other animals can use this new undisturbed area for nesting and roosting. Then, part of the shoreline will be remodelled to create a shallow littoral zone giving more suitable conditions for shore birds to feed.

The Morava river plain near Tovacov , showing the extent of agriculture impact on the floodplain landscape. Only remnants of the once extensive floodplain forests remain (c) GoogleEarth

The planned works will be done gradually by 2020. They are self-financed, as all costs are covered by revenues from the extracted gravel. All these measures are included in the Biodiversity Management Plan for the Tovačov gravel pits, a mining site of high biodiversity value.

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