Slatinná louka u Velenky National Nature Monument

The Slatinná louka u Velenky (Fen Meadow by the Velenka Stream) NNM covers an area of 1.04ha ad was declared in 1972 to protect the remnants of a typical Labe river valley meadow with notable communities and rare plant species. The territory is also a proposed Site of Community Importance of the same name.

The protected area lies in the Středočeský kraj – Central Bohemian Region, on the western edge of the settlement of Kersko at an elevation of 187 metres above sea level. The meadow has a flat relief and stretches from north to south. The locality is drained by the Velenský potok Stream and an unnamed right-bank tributary of the Kounický potok Stream into the river Labe. The hydrological conditions were disturbed in 1989 when drainage channels were dug to drain the surrounding agricultural lands. One of these channels runs along the western border of the national nature monument.

The geological basement is built of cretaceous sediments of Cenomanian age, which are overlain by Quaternary sediments from the Labe river and humolites. The soil covering is of fenny organic soils. The meadow has a microrelief with elevation variations of up to 50 cm. The macroclimate of the area belongs to the warmest part of the Labe valley region.

The majority of the monument is covered with meadow growths with very high species diversity and the occurrence of several specially protected plant species and others which are included in the “red list” of endangered species. As a result of the drainage works the meadow currently has the character of an intermittently wet moor-grass meadow, with certain fen elements surviving here. The fen meadow is of special significance as two critically endangered plants, which are also species of community interest grow here. The bractless toadflax (Thesium ebracteatum) is only known to grow in the Czech Republic at this protected area. The marsh gladiolus (Gladiolus palustris) grows nowhere else in Bohemia and has its biggest population in the entire Czech Republic here (two more extensive localities in Moravia have lower numbers of these marsh gladioli). The fen character of the meadow is especially visible in early spring, when the rich population of the flowering moor-grass Sesleria uliginosa is not hidden by larger grasses. Of the many orchid species which formerly grew on this meadow, the green-winged orchid (Orchis morio), fragrant orchid (Gymnadenia conopsea) and greater butterfly orchid (Platanthea chlorantha) have survived here. Other protected species growing here include several clumps of Siberian iris (Iris sibirica), although most of these irises grow outside the NNM, in its buffer zone. A rich and notable population of the meadow variety of the large pink (Dianthus superbus) grows here alongside other plants which are becoming rarer, such as the clustered bellflower (Campanula glomerata), round-headed club-rush (Scirpioides holoschoenus), white cinquefoil (Potentilla alba) and the self-heal Prunella grandiflora.

With regard to the small area of the monument only the invertebrate fauna is of zoological significance, although research has only been carried out into certain groups. The discovery of the pill woodlouse Armadillidium zenckeri (3 individuals) is probably of the greatest significance. This woodlouse was discovered for the first time in the Czech Republic here and at the nearby V jezírkách NNM.

The Slatinná louka u Velenky NNM is a fragment of the formerly extensive Labe valley fen meadows, which were mostly drained and converted into arable land in the past. The territory of the national nature monument was probably cut for hay throughout history (except between 1963 and 1973), which is one of the reasons why a high plant species diversity has been maintained here. Nevertheless the species diversity was higher when the monument was declared (1972) than it is now. Several species, such as the marsh orchid Orchis (Anacamptis) palustris, have disappeared as this biotope is no longer suitable for them. These species certainly retreated after a one-metre-deep and open drainage channel was dug along the border of the protected area.

Intensive agricultural usage, especially vegetable growing on the neighbouring fields, and the application of fertilisers and pesticides affects the border zone of the protected area, where the vegetation is becoming ruderalised. The core area shows no signs of degradation.

The NNM has been designated on too small an area,as it only covers the most valuable part of the fen meadow. The slightly drier parts of the meadow with a lower concentration of specially protected species were not included in the national nature monument, even though they make up an integral unit. For this reason it would be beneficial to re-declare the monument in the future on an expanded area to protect the whole meadow.