U Hajnice National Nature Monument

The U Hajnice NNM was declared in 1992 on an area of 0.46ha and covers a small forest meadow on a gentle north-facing slope around 1km south of the hamlet of Libotyně and between the towns of Vimperk and Prachatice in the foothills of the Šumava Mountains and in the Jihočeský kraj – South Bohemian Region. The subjects of the protection are short-stemmed grass-herb communities with the occurrence of a relatively large population of the protected and critically endangered bog orchid (Malaxis monophyllos) and other protected species.
 
The majority of the protected area consists of a forest meadow with stony wasteground on its northern (lower) edge and spruce stands on its southern (upper) edge. The basement is built of leaf gneisses of the monotonous series of the Crystallinicum with zonal brown soils (shallow, skeletal Cambisol) without influences from ground water or springs. The monument lies at elevations between 740 and 757 metres above sea level.
 
The vegetation cover is formed of a collection of species-rich communities from the Arrhenatherion alliance. In a narrow belt along the upper border of the meadow we can find a preserved short-stemmed mat-grass community of the Violion caninae alliance. In the flowery growths of the Arrhenatherion alliance we can find common grass species, as well as mat-grass (Nardus stricta) and downy oat-grass (Avenula pubescens). Flowers which grow in this part of the meadow include spreading bellflower (Campanula patula), harebell (Campanula rotungifolia), the daisy Leucanthemum ircutianum, field scabious (Knautia arvensis), rough hawkbit (Leontodon hispidus), yellow rattle (Rhianthus minor), meadow saxifrage (Saxifraga granulata), zigzag clover (Trifolium medium), tormentil (Potentilla erecta), dog violet (Viola caninae), common milkwort (Polygala vulgaris), pill sedge (Carex pilulifera), slender bedstraw (Galium pumilum) and heath speedwell (Veronica officinalis). In addition to the bog orchid other rare herbs which grow at U Hajnice include arnica (Arnica montana), lesser and greater butterfly orchids (Platanthera bifolia and P. chlorantha), common spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii), broad-leaved helleborine (Epipactis helleborine), serrated wintergreen (Orthilia secunda) and common wintergreen (Pyrola minor).
 
In the unconsolidated low growths of the Violin caninae alliance, which are the home of the bog orchid (Malaxis monophyllos), the moss layer – with the dominant species Rhytidiadelphus squarosus – achieves a high lever of coverage. The population of the bog orchid, which varies in individual years between several dozen and several hundred individual flowering specimens, is concentrated in the upper part of the locality. The number of bog orchids has been lower in recent years but the population is regarded as being stable.
 
The insect fauna of the monument has a submontane to montane character. The rove beetle Domene scabriollis, the leaf beetles Chrysolina geminata and Longitarsus brunneus and the weevil Hypera meles are all abundant here. The pill beetle Cytilus auricamus and the silken fungus beetle Aromaria lewisi also occur here (the latter species has only recently been recorded on the territory of the Czech Republic).
 
The locality was previously cultivated extensively (hay cutting, occasional grazing), which continued in a limited manner until the recent past. As the hay was not completely cut to the bottom edge of the meadow this area became ruderalised. Specific management measures are carried out on the strip at the top of the meadow, where the endangered orchids grow. These interventions include breaking up the turf before the seeds ripen and suppressing expansive species, especially the melancholy thistle (Cirsium heterophyllum).