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Landscape attribute

The Pavlov Hills, in Czech also Pálava, surrounded by fertile vineyards, with their white limestone rocks, irises flowering in rock steppe bathed in sunshine, oak groves, ruins of medieval castles, unique architecture of the historical town of Mikulov and wine cellars in the surrounding villages are among the best-known and most frequently visited places in the Czech Republic. Little wonder, these features and the dry and warm climate give Pálava an almost Mediterranean character that cannot be found anywhere else in Bohemia or Moravia.

The Pavlov Hills are situated in the middle of the ancient cultural landscape of southern Moravia, which is one of the oldest inhabited areas in the Czech Republic. A hunting camp of the Stone Age mammoth hunters was situated between the modern-day villages of Dolní Věstonice and Pavlov, and lots of mammoth bones and remains of fireplaces, but also the world-famous Věstonice Venus statuette were left behind. The farmers appeared in this area very early, already in the Neolithic period, and in the 2nd century, a Roman military campsite existed on the flat hill above the left bank of the Dyje River near the no longer existing village of Mušov. One of the most important centres of the Great Moravian Empire was situated in Pohansko downstream of the town of Břeclav, while Mikulov/Nikolsburg was one of the most important towns in Moravia during the Middle Ages and to this day remains a centre of Moravian wine production. Despite the intensive human activities, valuable parts of natural landscape have been preserved in the midst of the intensively cultivated countryside, mainly on the slopes of the Pavlov Hills and in the mildly rolling Milovice Hills east of Mikulov, serving as a refuge to many endangered flora and fauna species. Pálava and its surroundings are therefore a good example of a balanced relationship between humanity and the nature, which resulted in the creation of a picturesque cultural landscape.

The Pálava Protected Landscape Area was established in 1976 on 83 km2 in order to protect natural and cultural monuments in the Pavlov Hills. Ten years later, it became the third place in the today’s Czech Republic to be listed as a UNESCO biosphere reserve as a part of the Man and Biosphere Programme. The Křivé jezero National Nature Reserve, located in the Dyje floodplain downstream of Nové Mlýny, is a part of the wetland of international importance protected according to the Ramsar Convention. The entire area is included in the list of European Important Bird Areas and is likely to be included into a Special Protected Area according to the Birds Directive within Natura 2000. These facts show the exceptional importance of this small piece of nature and landscape in the Czech Republic.

The Pavlov Hills consist mainly of hard Jurassic limestone, which in certain places form scenic rock cliffs. The altitude difference between Děvín Hill, with 554 m a. s. l. the highest point in Pálava, and the level of the lower water reservoir in the Nové Mlýny system of 390 m makes the limestone ridge of the Pavlov Hills a true dominant of the South Moravian lowland. Mesozoic limestones are surrounded by deposits from the Tertiary period, including mainly flysch argillites and sandstones that form the rolling Milovice Hills east of Mikulov. Calcareous loess from the last ice age has been preserved in many places; thick layers of loess with buried fossil soils were uncovered in the so-called Calendar of Ages near Dolní Věstonice. The northeast part of the protected landscape area protrudes into the Dyje floodplain, which consists of river sand and gravel from the Quaternary period mostly covered by flood loams and clay.

As Pálava is situated in the northwest edge of the Pannonian Lowland, in the warmest and almost the driest part of the Czech Republic, winegrowing is possible here, and many flora species that could not grow anywhere else in the Czech Republic occur here. The patchwork of dry rock grasslands, thermophilous forest fringe communities, xeric scrub, and thermophilous oak forests on the slopes of Děvín Hill, which is partially a result of grazing, is referred to as karstic forest steppe. The Milovice Hills are covered mainly with Pannonian thermophilous oak forests on loess, supporting species-rich undergrowth, on north-facing slopes and in valleys replaced by Pannonian oak-hornbeam forests. The hardwood forests of lowland rivers with the Pedunculate Oak and Narrow-leaved Ash and small patches of Continental flooded meadows have been preserved in the Křivé jezero National Nature Reserve in the Dyje floodplain. The remains of halophilous vegetation, which used to be quite common on saline pastures in southern Moravia, still survive on the western bank of the Nesyt pond near the village of Sedlec.

The Dwarf Iris (Iris pumila) flowering on the rock steppe of Děvín Hill is a traditional symbol of spring in the area and attracts the attention of many visitors. The remarkable plant species of Pálava include the Sandwort Arenaria grandiflora, which apart from the rocks on Děvín Hill cannot be found anywhere else in the Czech Republic, the Oat Grass Helictotrichon desertorum, which has survived on Šibeničník Hill near Mikulov since the last ice age, and Mediterranean Sage (Salvia aethiopis), known in the Czech Republic only from Stolová hora Hill near the village of Klentnice.

Due to the geographical position of the Pavlov Hills and the great diversity of habitats, many species that cannot be found anywhere else in the Czech Republic or species that were scientifically described for the first time in Pálava live here. Common Stag Beetle (Lucanus cervus) and Grand Longicorn (Cerambyx cerdo), both disappearing from other parts of the country, are still among frequent species in the region. Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius) and Old World Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) are also very common here. Numerous species of bats find their home during summer and winter in fissures and caves in limestone cliffs, in hollow trees, and buildings. Pálava is also a home to the largest population of Syrian Woodpecker (Dendrocopos syriacus), Barred Warbler (Sylvia nisoria), and Corn Bunting (Miliaria calandra) in the Czech Republic.

The most valuable parts of the landscape are protected as thirteen nature reserves and monuments, four of which are included in the strictest category of national nature reserves, five are nature reserves, and four are nature monuments. Declaring the Calendar of Ages a national nature monument is currently under preparation. The historical centre of Mikulov with its valuable architecture enjoys the status of a historical town reserve, and the village of Pavlov is protected as a historical rural reserve.

However, not even the landscape in Pálava was spared a number of ill-judged and detrimental interventions in the past. The large parts of Turold and Svatý kopeček hills were destroyed by limestone quarrying, and Janičův Hill was mined out completely. Large areas of soil on sloping land are suffering from erosion, while the character of the landscape in other places has been disturbed by terracing the land. While the game preserve on Děvín Hill was abolished a few years ago, two similar preserves with excessive numbers of game still exist in the Milovice Hills east of Mikulov. Despite these sad facts, the Pálava Protected Landscape Area is still an example of a place that is being used without devastating effect on the preserved natural environment.

Nature reserves and nature monuments

  1. National Nature Reserve Děvín-Kotel-Soutěska
  2. National Nature Reserve Křivé jezero
  3. National Nature Reserve Slanisko u Nesytu
  4. National Nature Reserve Tabulová, Růžový vrch a (4a) Kočičí kámen
  5. National Nature Monument Kalendář věků
  6. Nature Reserve Liščí vrch
  7. Nature Reserve Milovická stráň
  8. Nature Reserve Svatý kopeček
  9. Nature Reserve Šibeničník
  10. Nature Reserve Turold
  11. Nature Monument Anenský vrch
  12. Nature Monument Kienberg
  13. Nature Monument Kočičí skála
  14. Nature Monument Růžový kopec

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