Žofinka National Nature Reserve

The Žofinka NNR covers a transition peatbog in a forested complex which lies 2 km west of the village of Dvory nad Lužnicí. The reserve covers part of a larger peat deposit (462 ha) and is an example of the final phase of natural peatbog development with extensive bog pine stands with labrador tea in the undergrowth at a relatively low elevation above sea level.

Parish: Dvory nad Lužnicí (Jihočeský kraj - South Bohemian region)
Elevations: 463 – 478 m
Area: 128.95 ha
Declared: 1975

The basement is formed of white-grey kaolinite sandstones and conglomerates, clayey sandstones and siltstones, clays of various colours and claystones of upper Cretaceous age of 100 – 200 metres in thickness and representing the upper part of the „Klikov formation“ (Campanian-Turonian). An extensive Holocene seam of oligotrophic peat overlies this basement. The peatbog itself lies in an oval-shaped, bowl-like depression in the Cretaceous sediments which formed as this area subsided in relation to the surrounding areas. Directly under the peat we can find intercalated layers of various coloured clays, sandy clays, clayey sands and sands tens of centimetres thick. The peatbog slopes to the north and north-west and the thickness of the peat layer varies greatly. In the past peat was extracted here and a network of drainage channels in various stages of succession can be found in and around the peatbog.

The natural communities of a sub-montane peatbog with pines (Pino rotundatae-Sphagnetum) are multi-storeyed relict stands of bog pines (Pinus rotundata) with a distinctive undergrowth of labrador tea (Ledum palustre), bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), bog whortleberry (Vaccinium uliginosum), cowberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), heather (Calluna vulgaris), the cranberry (Oxycoccus palustris) and sporadic growths of bog rosemary (Andromeda polifolia). Other tree species which are scattered throughout the reserve include Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), silver birch (Betula pendula), alder buckthorn (Frangula alnus) and Norway spruce (Picea abies). Broad bucklerfern (Dryopteris carthusiana), moor-grass (Molinia arundinacea) and wavy hair-grass (Avenella flexuosa) can be found sporadically among the growths of heather family plants.

Only the spiders and some of the beetle families have been studied in detail. Beetles which occur here include the ground beetle Bembidion humerale on the peatbog and the ground beetle Agonum ericeti on the heathland. The peatbog rove beetles Staphylinus fulvipes, Acidota crenata, Bryocharis formosus, Quedius fuliginosus, Quedius molochinus and Lathrobium brunnipes have all been found here. The rare montane spider species Centromerus arcanus and Haplodrassus soerenseni have been recorded here as have the spiders which are bound to peatbogs: Pirata uliginosus, Pirata hygrophilus, Walckenaeria cuspidata, Trochosa spinipalpis, the fishing spider (Dolomedes fimbriatus), Alopecosa taeniata, Alopecosa pulveru­lenta, Harpata lepida, Centromerus arcanus and Centromerus ex­pertus. Typical forest vertebrate species are found in the reserve and 42 species have been documented. The viviparous lizard (Lacerta vivipara) is common here and nesting birds include the goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), black stork (Ciconia nigra) and black woodpecker (Dryocopus martius).

The reserve is predominantly covered with unique bog pine stands. During the 1980s and early 1990s the older bog pines died off en masse and over 80% of the older trees were lost. This resulted in a dramatic decrease in forest density in parts of the reserve and increasing speed of (undesirable) succession. Natural renewal of the bog pines is supported by the planting of bog pines of local origin. The cultural spruce stands on the edges of the NNR are gradually being coverted into more natural forests. The most valuable parts of the primeval bog pine stands are left entirely to natural development. 

Management of the reserve includes slowing the outflow of water and blocking the drainage ditches, which were dug before the reserve was established. Small pools are also built to help to renew the peat formation process. Public access to the reserve is not permitted.

A part of the peatbog was damaged by drainage works when a network of canals of varying widths was built in 1804 – 1811. The forestry melioration projects in the 1970s and 1980s included the digging of deep drainage ditches around the edge of the reserve, which this disturbed the water regime of the locality and led to damage to the bog vegetation. It was previously thought that the bog was fed by resurgences of underground water, but this has not been confirmed recently and it seems that the peatbog is mostly fed by precipitation runoff. The water regime in the reserve is the subject of long-term and intensive monitoring and long-term botanical research is also carried out here. The northern part of the reserve borders onto peaty areas of a similar character with a varied mosaic of forest stands and forest-free and succession areas where peat was previously extracted. This area (90 ha) is being prepared for declaration as a reserve under the name of „Trpnouzské blato“, which would extend the current Žofinka National Nature Reserve to cover further valuable biotopes.