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Life Corcontica Project

Improvement of the pastures and of the small water habitats in the SCI Krkonoše Mountains

The LIFE Corcontica project (2012-2017) is coordinated by the Krkonoše Mountains National Park, in the Czech Republic, in collaboration with the DAPHNE - Institute of Applied Ecology (participating as partner) and the Czech Ministry of Environment. The budget available is 3,588.576 Euros, financed for the 75% by the LIFE + Natura program.

The project activities aims to improve the biodiversity of the reference habitats. Here, over time, despite the maintenance of a stable agricultural activity, the meadows deteriorated because the spread of shrubs such as Holcus mollis and Calamagrostis villosa - which tend to form an impenetrable carpet - led to a loss of the quality forage. The Park's botanists created a map of the territory by choosing the 29 most important pastures where long-term assistance actions could be carried out, such as mowing, mopping up and eliminating the invasive species. A team of operators, strengthened by the presence of local farmers, worked for the pasture organization, with the aim to safeguard the sites where precious orchids grow, such as Dactylorhiza sambucina, Dactylorhiza majalis, Orchis mascula and Gymnadenia conopsea.

Field researches led to the creation of a database which the  management plans for the pastures can be linked to, portraying the sites' natural conditions, surveying the agricultural and grazing activities and planning dedicated conservation actions. Such agricultural plans will also make the farmers' work easier, and will help them sell their products, such as hay pellet, wool and meat cattle.

Anyways, the pasture management is only a page of the "book" Life Corcontica. Significant activities of the project aim to safeguard the small watercourses forming the habitat of the Cottus gobio (European bullhead), a small fish living in the clean streams and which represents an important bioindicator of the water's health. To this end, the project aims to identify the legal solutions besides the technical ones, in order to limit the impacts of the anthropic activities, such as those providing the taking of water for the snowmaking, in collaboration with the administrating society of the water resources, with the Czech fishermen union and with all the socioeconomic realities of the territory. The expected results regard the achievement of a considerable increasing in the Cottus gobio population.

The second target species of the project is the endemic Gentianella bohemica which grows on sparse meadows and pastures with low-rise grass, and on the Giganti Mountains it can be found with sporadic populations in only two sites. The goal is to support the survival of the species and to make the development of autonomous and self-replicating populations possible.

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