Status and Trends of Biodiversity
In spite of its relatively small size (78,866 square km), the Czech Republic (CR) is characterized by a high wild plant and animal species richness and diversity. This results from its geographical position at the boundaries between several biogeographical regions, morphological and geological diversity and also from historical and cultural developments.
Of the total area of the country, 67 % lies at an altitude of below 500 m and 32 % between 500 and 1,000 m above sea level. Only 1 % lies at altitudes greater than 1,000 m. The average altitude in the CR is 430 m above sea level. The country is one of the most important crossroads on the migration routes. The biological diversity is well described by the following numbers. There are more than 2,700 vascular plants, 2,400 lower plants, 50,000 invertebrates, and about 390 vertebrates in the Czech Republic. According to the IUCN category, 19% of mammals, 50% of birds, 55% of reptiles, 43% of amphibians, 40% of fresh water fish and 43% of vascular plants are threatened.
Important habitat types include natural forest, peat-lands, major river basins, lakes and fishponds, wetlands, and several types of meadows and grasslands. A third of the country is covered by semi-natural and production forest, while about half is covered by intensively managed agricultural land, 5% by semi-natural meadows and extensive pastures and 12% by other land uses. Only approximately ¼ of the estimated total area (1,300.000 ha) of wetlands remains due to extensive drainage of the landscape for agriculture and forestry. The country has designated 12 Ramsar Sites. However, in evaluating the state of nature in the CR from a pan-European point of view, it is necessary to stress that intensive agriculture and intensive industrial development have detrimentally affected the overall state of the environment.
Number and Extent of Protected Areas
There are 4 National Parks and 25 Protected Landscape Areas in the Czech Republic, a third of which have been declared as UNESCO Biosphere Reserves or Wetlands of International Importance. Furthermore, there are more than 2,000 small-scale protected areas of national, regional and local importance. Overall, protected areas cover 15.9% of the Czech territory (in 2003). The expansion of protected areas (including Natura 2000 sites) is currently under way and coverage is expected to increase to 20.4%.
Percentage of Forest Cover
The Czech Republic is a county with an average forest area, which covers approximately 34%, or 2.6 million hectares, of the country (the OECD average was 34.4% in 2000). It is the 8th most wooded OECD country in Europe. Most forest land belongs to the State, which manages 60% of forest land, and the remainder belongs to municipalities and regions (15%), forest co-operative (1%) and private owners (23%). This situation has remained almost unchanged over the last ten years. Overall, 76% of total forested areas are recognized as economic forest and the rest provide non-productive forest functions.