Skalická Morávka National Nature Monument

The Skalická Morávka NNM is a unique territory which lies in the Podbeskydská pahorkatina Hilly Land, between the municipalities of Raškovice and Nošovice in the Moravskoslezský kraj (Moravian-Silesian Region). The monument covers an area of 102ha, at elevations of 336-380 metres and exists to protect an exceptionally well-preserved section of the Morávka river. The Morávka river is one of the last rivers in the Czech Republic to represent a wild and unregulated gravel-bearing flow in the West Carpathian Flysh Region.
 
The subject of the protection is the geomorphological type of an unrestricted branching river channel. The river bed is shallow and hundreds of metres wide in places. Gravel banks of varying thickness are separated by branches of the water flow of varying width and form shallow or deep pools in places. The flow has never been regulated or stabilised and during floods the river migrates across its bed and the gravel banks are overlayered with new deposits.
 
The characteristic feature of gravel-bearing river flows are extensive gravel banks without vegetation or in the early stages of succession. The gravel substrate, which reaches high temperatures under the summer sun, represents a unique environment when compared to its surroundings and “warms” the whole alluvial plain.
 
The accompanying riverine ecosystems with populations of rare and endangered plant and animal species are bound to this dynamic biotope. The most notable types are the ash-alder alluvial forests, West Carpathian oak-hornbeam forests and riverine gravel banks with the German tamarisk (Myricaria germanica) and the tiny variegated horsetail (Hippochaete or Equisetum variegata). The Skalická Morávka river is one of only a few localities in the Czech Republic for both of these species. The highly endangered rough horsetail (Hippochaete or Equisetum hyemale) and the reed-grass Calamagrostis pseudophragmites and the endangered horsetail (Hipppochaete or Equisetum ramorissimum), olive willow (Salix elaeagnos) and violet willow (Salix daphnoides) can also be found here.
 
The Morávka river channel, gravel banks and alluvial forest stands are also important and unique biotopes for a range of animal species. Two rare orthoptera species which occur here are the pygmy locust Tetrix tuerki and the grasshopper Chorthippus pullus. This pygmy locust, which lives on the gravel banks is found nowhere else in the Czech Republic. The monument also plays host to significant beetle and spider fauna, especially among the wolf spiders. The wolf spider Pardosa agricola and the jumping spider Heliophanus patagiatus were first recorded in the Czech Republic at this locality. The critically endangered brook lamprey (Lampetra planeri) and broad-fingered crayfish (Astacus astacus) inhabit the river channel, along with the endangered Alpine bullhead (Cottus poecilopus). Otters (Lutra lutra) can be found throughout the Morávka river catchment.
 
At the beginning of the 20th century the Morávka was a natural, unregulated flow with only small amounts of water diverted to run mills and factories. The water regime was negatively influenced after 1964 when the Morávka reservoir was built on the upper reaches. Today the protected area suffers from uncontrolled tourism, local waste disposal and gravel extraction. After the floods in 1997 invasive plant species such as the Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica), giant knotweed (Reynoutria sachalinensis) and their hybrid – Bohemian knotweed (Reynoutria bohemica), and to a lesser extent the Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandiulifera) began their intensive spread through the area.

The national nature monument is a part of the proposed Niva řeky Morávky Site of Community Importance.