The Slovak mountains hide small treasures, which many have no idea that they exist in our country. They are wild orchids, and it is the Strážovské and Súľovské vrchy that can boast one of the highest species diversity in Central Europe. Even in the middle of the last century, botanists from all over Czechoslovakia came here to admire the beautiful blooming meadows. We can thank our ancestors for this gem. They cultivated their fields, mowed and raked hay by hand, and grazed cattle on the steep slopes, foothills and ridges of the mountains. Even though these plants have very specific requirements for their growth, there were still so many of them that people plucked them into bouquets. But today many species are rare, protected, critically endangered and in some areas also extinct. The charm of orchids has attracted many who have devoted themselves to them all their lives, and all point to a downward trend in the number of populations and habitats. Why? What has changed? Just look at Karol Plicka’s photos or old maps from seventy years ago. The nature of the landscape and its use has changed beyond recognition. Just like orchids, small farmers who would follow in the footsteps of their great-grandfathers are a rare and endangered „species“. Without them, the country withers. Wetlands, pastures and rocks are overgrown, borders are plowed and large areas are built up or intensively used.
They survived the last oases of life, literally the last square meters worth saving for future generations. With the help of the LIFE Endemic PANALP project, our association is also trying to restore and expand suitable habitats and return animals to the wild and to low-yielding lands. We remove encroaching trees, non-native species, mow, build fences and support local farmers and young promising farmers. However, the main goal is for our results to be an inspiration for others, who will become more interested in their surroundings and engage in the matter from their own convictions. If we want to be proud of what we have behind the threshing floors, we need a living country.
Orchids, with their variety of colors, shapes and ingenious survival strategies, have lured many botanists around the world and forced them to fight for their survival. (Neotinea ustulata and Ophrys holubyana)
Restoration of biotopes, or pastures with rare species of plants and animals (before and after)
Construction of an electric fence
Return of goats to the country. They cut grass, reduce bushes, expose rocks, spread seeds with their hooves, brighten forest edges, prevent the succession and spread of invasive species, expose rocks and enable the life of hundreds of species of organisms