Broumovské stěny National Nature Reserve

Area: 1179.4 ha
Elevations: 620 – 773 m above sea level
Parishes: Bělý, Hlavňov, Křinice, Martínkovice, Bužanov, Slavný, Suchý důl (Královéhradecký kraj - Hradec Králové region)
Declared: 1956
The ridge of the Broumovské stěny walls is around 12 km in length running from the north-west to the south-east, with the Honské sedlo ridge (589 m) at the NW end and the Machovský kříž (669 m) at the SE end. The Broumovské stěny cliffs form a natural border between two important districts – the natural and historical border between the Police nad Metují district and the Broumovská kotlina basin. The walls are built of block sandstone of Mid-Turonian age, the layers of which are tilted to the south-west. Due to this tilting, the slopes towards the Police basin are gentle, whereas the ridge falls to the flat Broumov basin in the form of vertical rock walls and very steep slopes up to 300 metres in height, and these „walls“ gave the Broumovské stěny their name. The highest point of the Broumovské stěny is Božanovský Špičák (773 m) which rises out of the eastern part of the ridge. Typical features are the rounded rock pillars and boulder fields on the plateau. The north-eastern part is typified by its wild morphology with vertical walls and deep ravines. The rugged morphology has also led to the formation of many underground spaces such as caves and abysses – of which 26 have been recorded.

The soil cover is not well developed in the extreme conditions found among the block sandstones. In most areas the soil is of the lithosol type, consisting only of a shallow humus horizon on the rocks. In places where deeper soils have formed on the rocks, it is of the podsol type. Pseudogley soils can be found in wet areas around springs and streams. Peat has accumulated in some of the ravines between the rocks, and the deepest peat layers formed in the boreal and pre-boreal periods. Sand is often washed down from the rock surfaces and tourist paths during torrential rainstorms and the spring thaw.
The herb layer in acidic localities is usually of low species diversity and consists of wavy hair-grass (Avenella flexuosa), bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), cowberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), heather (Calluna vulgaris) with hairy small-reed (Calamagrostis villosa) in damper areas. Species which occur in the ravines and damp boulder fields include clasp-leaf twisted-stalk (Streptopus amplexifolius), interrupted club-moss (Lycopodium annotinum), fir-clubmoss (Huperzia selago) and Alpine buckler fern (Dryopteris expansa). A rare occurrence is the Alpine sow-thistle (Cicerbita alpina). Typical species in the herb-rich beechwoods include wood fescue (Festuca altissima), dog’s mercury (Mercurialis perennis), woodruff (Galium odoratum), yellow archangel (Galeobdolon montanum), wood barley (Hordelymus europaeus) and less frequently martagon lily (Lilium martagon), nine-leaved toothwort (Dentaria enneaphyllos) and coralroot (Dentaria bulbifera). A rare plant on the rocky slopes is the hard shield fern (Polystichum aculeatum), with pendulous sedge (Carex pendula) around the springs. The most interesting moss species is the relatively rare bristle-leaf moss (Brachydontium trichodes). The sycamore-beech stands on the north-eastern slopes have an especially well-developed moss layer.

The Broumovské stěny NNR lies in the fir-beech to spruce-beech vegetation levels. The rock phenomenon is less notable here and means that there are smaller areas of relict pinewoods and a lower occurrence of plants which are bound to inversion localities. The majority of the reserve could be characterised for reconstruction purposes as acidophilous or herb-rich beechwoods. Sycamore-beech stands have been preserved in some areas on the steep north-eastern slopes and some of these stands have the character of natural forest with very old trees. Notable shrubs in the reserve include black-berried honeysuckle (Lonicera nigra), alder buckthorn (Frangula alnus), mezereon (Daphne mezereum) and the rare occurrence of the Alpine rose (Rosa pendulina).

At present the forest composition is dominated by Norway spruce (Picea abies) – around 80%, with a significant representation of silver birch and beech. The forests include lower numbers of Scots pine, sycamore and other deciduous trees and with scattered silver firs in places. Introduced species include European larch and also douglas fir. Windward areas on the ridge and on the south-western slopes were affected by bark beetle infestations during the 1980s which followed damage from imissions. Extensive cleared areas were planted with silver birches to prevent soil erosion. At present we are improving the unfavourable forest species composition in the NNR by planting deciduous trees and firs.
A total of 27 mammal species have been recorded in the NNR and include the striped field mouse (Apodemus agrarius) and Alpine shrew (Sorex alpinus). The fat dormouse (Glis glis) and the hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) are more common around Božanov. The Broumovské stěny walls have large populations of game animals, especially red deer and wild boar. The Badger (Meles meles) and the fox (Vulpes vulpes) find an ideal home in the deep, inaccessible forests in the reserve and most of the small predators can be found here too.

The invertebrate populations in the reserve are also of great significance. A whole range of beetles are bound to the remaining deciduous forests, especially with beech trees. Notable species include the stag beetle Sinodendron cylindricum and the large crane fly Ischyropsalis helwegii. The hunting pits of the antlion Myrmeleon formicarius can often be seen in the sandbanks under the rock formations. The glacial relict spider Bathyphantes similis has been recorded in the damp ravines. The montane gastropod Discus ruderatus can be found on the fallen tree trunks in the remnants of natural forest, whereas the Carpathian gastropod Monachoides vicinus has penetrated as far as the damp lower part of the reserve.

As the reserve has relatively low visitor numbers (in comparison with the Adršpach and Teplice rocks nearby), this provides the peace and quiet which many demanding vertebrates require for their breeding. Wavy birds which find ideal breeding sites here include the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), raven (Corvus corax), Eagle owl (Bubo bubo) as well as Tengmalm’s owl (Aegolius funereus) and pygmy owl (Glaucidium passerinum). Notable animal species which thrive in Broumovské stěny NNR also include Alpine newt (Triturus alpestris), fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra) and viviparous lizard (Lacerta vivipara).