Ramsar Advisory Missions: No. 44, Sumava Peat Bogs, Czech Republic (2001), preliminary background information
Special attention is given to assisting member States in the management and conservation of listed sites whose ecological character is threatened. This is carried out through the Ramsar Advisory Mission, a technical assistance mechanism formally adopted by Recommendation 4.7 of the 1990 Conference of the Parties. (The Ramsar Advisory Mission mechanism was formerly known as the Monitoring Procedure and the Management Guidance Procedure.) The main objective of this mechanism is to provide assistance to developed and developing countries alike in solving the problems or threats that make inclusion in the Montreux Record necessary.
Background information on the Ramsar Advisory Mission to the Sumava Peat Bogs, Czech Republic, 5-8 June 2001
The Ramsar Convention gives special attention to assisting Contracting Parties in the management and conservation of listed sites whose ecological character is changing or likely to change as a result of technological development, pollution or other human interference. This is carried out through the Ramsar Advisory Missions (RAM), a technical assistance mechanism formally adopted by Recommendation 4.7 of the 1990 Conference of the Parties (formerly known as the Monitoring Procedure and the Management Guidance Procedure). The main objective of this mechanism is to provide assistance to countries in solving the problems at particular Ramsar Sites related to the maintenance of their ecological character.
On 6 June 2000, the Deputy Director of the Department of Nature Protection of the Ministry of the Environment, the Ramsar Administrative Authority of the Czech Republic, asked the Ramsar Bureau, based on a unanimous decision by the Czech Ramsar Committee on 9 December 1999, to consider carrying out an independent Ramsar Advisory Mission to provide guidance on how best to deal with specific management problems related to the recent outbreaks of bark beetle populations.
On 29 September 2000, the Director of the Department of Nature Protection of the Ministry of the Environment provided the Ramsar Bureau with additional information and a proposal for the composition of the Ramsar Advisory Mission. Taking into account the winter snow cover of the Sumava mountains, he proposed to postpone the mission to the first week of June 2001, and expressed the wish that the Ramsar Advisory Mission would help to evaluate current management measures for forests damaged by bark beetle outbreaks and its impact on the wetland ecosystems.
The Sumava Peat Bogs
The Sumava Peat Bogs Ramsar Site comprises a complex of disjunct peatlands, including three core areas in the granitic Sumava mountains, providing unique ecosystem islands. The area includes high plateau raised bogs, valley bogs, coniferous forest and riparian wetlands of the upper Vltava (Moldavia) river. Bogs on the high plateaus show characteristics of the forest-tundra with low-growing bog pines, open areas, shrub and grass vegetation. Both types of raised bogs (high plateau and valley bogs) are often surrounded by waterlogged spruce forests. Deforested areas are covered by minerotrophic mires with stands of short sedges. Outside the wetlands, the vegetation consists mainly of mixed, beech or fir-dominated forests. The bogs are of considerable entomological and botanical interest, supporting various endemic and rare species, including relict populations of 25 species of butterflies, dragonflies, beetles, Capercaillie, Black Grouse and Northern Birch. Some nature trails exist, although most of the Ramsar Site is closed for public access.
The Sumava Peat Bogs Ramsar Site is part of the Sumava (Bohemian Forest) National Park, established in 1991. Within the National Park, discrete stands of old-growth and natural forests survived. Together with a number of bogs and mires, these original ecosystems form a network of discontinuous patches of non-intervention, core areas, left to natural development without human interference, designated as Zone 1 of the National Park. They are surrounded by a heterogeneous, temporarily managed, transition Zone II, intended to re-develop gradually back into natural ecosystems, eventually to be included into Zone 1. A large Protected Landscape Area surrounds the National Park. Both together form a Biosphere Reserve, managed jointly by a single authority.
The outbreak of bark beetle (Ips typographus) populations in Sumava National Park induced serious problems with regard to forest regeneration and had effects not only on the affected sites, but also on adjacent forests and transboundary areas in neighbouring Bavaria. While the Bayerischer Wald National Park applies a non-intervention policy, bark beetle populations are controlled in the Sumava National Park with well-established methods (sanitation and individual cutting of infested trees in Zone 1, clearance of larger areas in Zone II). This has serious impacts, mainly on Zone II areas, as the increasing clear cuttings are influencing the microclimate, and the removal of trees with heavy machinery is seriously impacting soil ecology and mire hydrology.
Issues to be considered by the RAM
1. The occurrence of bark beetle population outbreaks in the Bohemian Forest, its frequencies and extent (historical and recent data), and its ecological consequences (dying of forests, spread of bark beetle populations and other parasites and their respective predators, etc.).
2. The environmental impacts of different methods of bark beetle control, including the absence of control measures, on forest structure and development, microclimate (clear cuttings), hydrology and soil ecology (through drainage and compacting with heavy machinery to remove affected trees), and biodiversity (through altering the forest extent and structure, the hydrology of peat bogs, etc.).
3. The integrated forest management in the Bohemian Forest, including policies for timber cutting, clear cuts, plantations, no/limited human intervention old-growth stands, drainage and other landscaping measures, and their impacts on bark beetle populations and rare, endemic, threatened and relict populations of invertebrates (butterflies, dragonflies, beetles, etc.), birds and plants representing specific biodiversity values of the Sumava National Park and surrounding protected areas in the Czech Re public and Bavaria.
4. The need for transboundary management, according to the Ramsar guidelines for international cooperation (Ramsar Handbook 9), including coordinated bark beetle population management measures on both the Czech and German sides.
5. Based on points 1-4, preparing a series of concrete recommendations for management measures, evaluation and monitoring procedures (of the management measures applied) and procedures for transboundary data and information exchange, coordination and cooperation.