PROJEKT: Restoration of drought-loving herbaceous communities in the contact area of the Pannonian and Alpine bioregions

There are habitats that handle the current drought better than any other – we call them drought-loving habitats or “xerotherms”.

The species that inhabit them are adapted to drought, since on shallow soils and southern hill slopes, drought is common even in less extreme years like this one. However, it is rare to find such biotopes in good condition, and they are decreasing in our country. They are largely unused and lack livestock grazing.

In Strážovské vrchy this year, in cooperation with a local farmer, we managed to restore approximately 7 ha of drought-tolerant juniper pastures. In addition to several rare plants, there is also a diverse group of butterflies. Butterflies and insects in general react to habitat deterioration faster and more sensitively than plants, so their decline is often a signal that something is wrong, even though it doesn’t seem like it. The types of pioneer habitat and low-stemmed dry-loving pastures with open clay and stony areas are particularly endangered, which rapidly disappeared from our nature together with the demise of traditional land management. Because of this, for example, the Hermit (Chazara briseis) has already become extinct in our country, and several species, such as the iconic mountain Apollo (Parnassius apollo), are only found in small fractions of their historically known locations. And its populations are still disappearing, or many are doomed to extinction due to isolation and genetic drift

That’s why we were happy to hear from the entomologist who visited the restored site in Zliechov: “Great, this site should be saved!”.

There is the dusky meadow brown (Hyponephele lycaon), a small, inconspicuous butterfly that does not attract the attention of the layman. However, it is one of the most endangered diurnal butterflies in Central Europe, it has become extinct in the Czech Republic, it is increasingly rare in Slovakia, and there are fears that our populations will end up the same as those of our neighbors.

There is also a large population here of our largest blue – the large blue (Maculinea arion). This species of European importance is strongly linked to animal grazing and has largely disappeared from Europe, seeing it flying over blooming oregano or sedges (nutritious plants) is therefore always a good sign that the given location is very valuable.

All the above-mentioned species are therefore drought-tolerant and are well adapted to such conditions. However, such a drought does not belong to other biotopes, and we believe that the rains will come and nature will soon be relieved.

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