Czech Ramsar site removed from the Montreux Record

Czech Ramsar site removed from the Montreux Record

15 October 2002
Czech Ramsar site successfully removed from the Montreux Record

The Czech Republic has accomplished the measures needed for removal of the Ramsar site Novozámecky a Brehynsky rybník from the Montreux Record, the list of Wetlands of International Importance requiring urgent conservation attention, as of 26 September 2002. The fishponds, created in the 14th century, were placed upon the MR in 1994 as a result of considerable adverse ecological change resulting from mismanagement of the site and surrounding areas; following a Ramsar visit and some emergency Small Grants Fund assistance in the construction of damaged works, support from the national government, and an enormous amount of work by concerned officials at the scene, the situation has been turned round and the future seems promising for the site.

Tobias Salathé, Ramsar Regional Coordinator for Europe, reports:

The Novozamecky and Brehynsky Fishponds are semi-natural fishponds in the Czech Republic, created by the damming of valley streams. They were declared a National Nature Reserve and included in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance on 2 July 1990. Habitat includes extensive reedbeds, wet meadows, peat bogs and wet, coniferous woodland. An important area breeding and staging birds, including the White-tailed Sea Eagle and Osprey. The 923 ha site (Novozamecky pond 474ha, Brehynsky pond 130ha) provides habitat for several notable meadow plant species.

The fishponds were added to the Montreux Record on 18 September 1994 because of high-level eutrophication caused by unsuitable management and wastewater runoff from nearby settlements. The lack of conservation management resulted in vegetation changes in the fishpond surroundings with formerly rich flower and sedge meadows changing into reed and willow growths. In 1996, the historical water outflow device of Novozamecky pond was damaged and the pond was kept empty thereafter for safety reasons. With emergency support from the Ramsar Small Grants Fund and then from the Czech Ministry of the Environment, a new discharge device was built in 1997-98 and the fishpond could be filled again.

The Czech Agency for Nature Conservation and Landscape Protection (AOPK) is now controlling the fishpond management, executed by a contracted fisheries company. Suitable fish stock, including carp, pike and pike-perch, was introduced to reduce the eutrophication of the ponds and to enhance the biodiversity of the water plants. Where necessary, wire-netting prevents larger fish from eating too much of the aquatic vegetation. Since 1997, management measures include regular mowing of large areas of previously abandoned meadows, thus improving habitat for waterbirds. Small ponds for amphibians and water plants were created in the meadow landscape. The accumulated sediments in Novozamecky pond will be dredged in a phased approach, in order to monitor more easily its effects on the pond ecosystem. The Ministry supports a specific project to monitor physical, chemical, vegetation and bird parameters in relation to the fishpond management and the meadow mowing scheme.

In this way, the most important steps towards the gradual reduction of eutrophication have been undertaken and the ecological character of both ponds was successfully restored. The diversity of the waterbirds has been enhanced significantly. The water of the fishponds is clean and the fishpond management now corresponds to the conservation needs. Management of the reserve is supported financially by the Ministry of Environment through its landscape management programme. Since 1997, large areas of wet meadows around Novozamecky and Brehynsky fishponds are again mowed regularly. A management plan specifies in detail the maintenance and restoration measures to be undertaken during the period 2001-2012.

Thus, no direct danger to the Ramsar site exists any longer. After consideration of advice and comments from Ramsar's Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP), the Department of Nature Protection of the Czech Ministry of Environment asked for its removal from the Montreux Record on 16 September 2002.

Reprint of the Montreux Record Questionnaire filed with the Bureau, with other materials, in support of the site's removal from the Montreux Record.

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

Montreux Record - Questionnaire

(adopted by the Conference of the Contracting Parties in Resolution VI.1, Brisbane, 1996, accompanying the Guidelines for Operation of the Montreux Record)

Section One: Information for assessing possible inclusion of a listed site in the Montreux Record

Essential items

Name of site: Novozamecky and Brehynsky Fishponds

Ramsar Criteria for listing the site as internationally important: Criteria 1a, 2a and 2b were used, as the wetlands host a set of rare and endangered species.

Nature of the change in ecological character/potential for adverse change: The site was included in the Montreux Record on 18 September 1994 because of high-level eutrophication caused mainly by unsuitable fishpond management and pollution by wastewater from settlements. Moreover, no conservation management had been undertaken in the Novozamecky Fishpond Reserve, resulting in vegetation changes in the fishpond surroundin8s. Flower-rich and sedge meadows important for birds had been changing into reed and willow growths. In 1996, additional direct threat to the Novozamecky fishpond appeared: the historical wooden discharge device was damaged and the fishpond was not refilled for safety reasons. No means of financial support for immediate reconstruction were available. With the aid of the Ramsar Small Grants Fund and later also with financial support of the Czech Ministry of Environment, a new discharge device was built in the years 1997-98 and the fishpond could be filled again.

However, the above mentioned changes have caused gradual reduction of flora and fauna in both reserves.

Reason(s) for adverse change, or potential adverse change, in ecological character: Until 1989, both fishponds were kept by the Doksy branch of the State Fisheries and were managed intensively (massive input of fertilisers and lime, large fish stock size, additional feeding of the fish). The state nature conservancy did not have much possibilities to intervene in the fishpond management practices, lacking effective legislation tools. Moreover, no sewage treatment plants were available in the surrounding settlements and the wastewater was discharged to tributaries of the Novozamecky fishpond. Nutrients from the surrounding fields which were fertilised intensively were also washed to the streams.

Additional items which may be included
Date Information Sheet on Ramsar Wetlands submitted
Date and source of Information Sheet updates (e.g. National Reports, national wetland inventory, specific survey)
Benefits and values derived from the site
Extent to which values and benefits derived from the site have decreased or changed
Monitoring programme in place at the site, if any (technique(s), objectives, and nature of data and information gathered)
Assessment procedures in place, if any (how is the information obtained from the monitoring programme used)
Ameliorative and restoration measures in place or planned (if any) so far List of attachments provided by the Contracting Party (if applicable)
List of attachments provided by the Ramsar Bureau (if applicable)

Section Two: Information for assessing possible removal of a listed site from the Montreux Record

Success of ameliorative restoration or maintenance measures

After political changes in the country in 1989, the administration of both fishponds was undertaken by the Agency for Nature Conservation and Landscape Protection (AOPK CR). The fishponds were let out to the Doksy Fisheries under conditions set by the Agency. Fishpond management in the area is thus entirely controlled by nature conservancy. A suitable fish stock composition has been introduced in order to reduce eutrophy of the fishponds (mixed stock including carp, pike and pike-perch). To enhance biodiversity of water plants, wire-netting fences were built at places with frequent occurrence of the protected and endangered species. The fences can be entered only by smaller fish which do not restrict the vegetation.

A new sewage treatment plant has been built in the town of Doksy, therefore, the most important source of pollution of the Novozamecky fishpond has been eliminated.

Since 1997, conservation management of the Novozamecky fishpond has been ensured, including regular mowing (both mechanical and manual) of large areas of the previously abandoned meadows and improving habitats of the waterbirds. Six small pools for amphibians and water plants have been made in the meadows, however, they are frequently used also by waterbirds because low vegetation is maintained on watersides.

Removing of mud from the Novozamecky fishpond, using the so-called wet method, is planned. It will be implemented in several steps, in order to be able to monitor and analyse the action properly.

Proposed monitoring and assessment procedures

Both reserves are monitored within several projects of the Ministry of Environment (e.g., Grant VaV 640/8/00). Status of water vegetation and numbers of birds, as well as chemical and physical quality of the water, are monitored in relation to fishpond management.

The development of flora and vegetation and the composition of bird and other animal species are studied at meadows surrounding the Novozamecky fishpond, in relation to mowing of the meadows and cutting of self-seeding plants.

The current projects should be finished by 2003, however, the monitoring is supposed to be continued in the following years.

Extent to which the ecological character, benefits and values of the site have been restored or maintained (provide details)

Project reports and other studies suggest that conservation management carried out in the reserves by the AOPK CR has positive effect on the habitats. Consequences of the overall eutrophication of both fishponds cannot be removed in a short-time period, however, the most important steps towards gradual reduction of eutrophy have been undertaken. It can be summarised that the ecological character of both sites has been being restored successfully and that there is no danger of an unexpected reverse.

Diversity of waterbirds in the Novozamecky fishpond has been enhanced markedly by the renewed mowing of wet meadows surrounding tile fishpond.

The planned removing of mud from the Novozamecky fishpond will also largely contribute to the reduction of eutrophy, since an enormous amount of nutrients is deposited in the sediments.

Rationale for removing the site from the Montreux Record

In comparison with 1994, when the Novozamecky and Brehynsky fishponds were included in the Montreux Record, the situation has changed dramatically. While both fishponds were highly eutrophic in 1994, which was caused by intensive fishpond management and discharging of wastewater into tributaries of the Novozamecky fishpond, nowadays these negative effects are reduced largely. Both fishponds are administered by the AOPK CR and let out to the fisheries, however, fishpond management is based on a management plan which is prepared every year in relation to the current status of the sites and which is aimed at the overall reduction of eutrophy. The management plan is compulsory for the hirers and nature conservancy is not dependent financially on the rent or profit from fish sale. Nowadays, the water in both fishponds is relatively clean and dominated by vegetation of the Potamion eurosibiricum Koch 1926 alliance. The fishponds are bordered by good-quality reed beds which are not threatened by human activities.

Mud has been probably never removed in either of the fishponds. However, the width of the sediment layer exceeds 1 m, which is inconvenient for both nature conservation and fishpond management. Removing of mud from the Novozamecky fishpond is thus planned. It will be implemented in several years and should further improve ecological status of the site. The Ministry of Environment has already promised financial support through the Programme of landscape management. The Brehynsky fishpond will be probably treated later, with respect to financial and time demands of the procedure.

The areas surrounding both fishponds were not managed by the year 1994. Even this has changed markedly. Since 1997, large areas of wet meadows around the Novozamecky fishpond, previously abandoned because of minimum profitableness, have been being mowed regularly. Consequently, character of waterbird habitats has been restored. Moreover, small pools were built in the meadows which have become favourite habitat for both birds and amphibians. The wetland of the Brehynsky fishpond, hosting critically endangered plant species, is also mowed regularly.

It can be concluded that the status of both fishponds has been largely improved since 1994. Fishpond management practices correspond to the demands of nature conservancy. Conservation management of the reserves is supported financially and there is no danger of a direct threat to the sites.

List of further attachments
Enclosure No. 1 - Photographic Documentation
Enclosure No. 2- Copies of the Management Plans
Enclosure No. 3 - Copy of the article "Novozamecky fishpond - changes in the National Nature Reserve and its management" published in Ziva, the journal of biological work

Prepared by: Dana Turonová, Eva Suchomelová, AOPK CR, Prague, 11 January 2002

"The overall view of the Novozamecky fishpond in 2001: water plants (Nuphar lutea and the endangered species Nymphaea candida) have again appeared on the surface after double wintering of the site in 1997-1998."

"Discharge of the Novozamecky fishpond reconstructed in the years 1997-8 with financial support from the 'Small Grants Fund' of the Ramsar Convention and from the Czech Ministry of the Environment."

"Cutting of the reed expanding into abandoned meadows in the surroundings of the Novozamecky fishpond."

"The overall view of the Brehynsky fishpond. The surface is cover by water plants (Nymphaea candida and Nuphar lutea).

"Before privatisation in 1998, no fish had been stocked in the Brehynsky fishpond, resulting in fast growth of Myriophyllum spicatum. Biomass of this species has been reduced by double wintering of the site (Nymphaea candida has not been much affected.)"

"The endangered white water-lily (Nymphaea candida) has grown inside the fences protecting water plants against the fish and serving as reference plots for monitoring."