Rašeliniště Jizerky National Nature Reserve

The Rašeliniště Jizerky NNR (The Jizerka Peatbogs) was declared in 1960 on an area of 112.21 ha, with a buffer zone of 71.25 ha to the north-west of the mountain settlement of Jizerka in the Liberecký kraj – Liberec Region. The reserve is spread across the flat, wide basin between the Vlašský hřbet ridge and the Střední Jizerský ridge at an average elevation of 880 metres above sea level. The backbone of the reserve is the meandering channel of the Jizerka stream and its tributaries, the Pařezitý, Jílový and Safírový streams. The NNR consists of two segments which are joined by a buffer zone. A forest road, the “Jizerská highway” joins the settlements of Jizerka and Smědava and runs through the territory. The subject of the protection is the extensive areas of waterlogged and peaty spruce stands, growths of native pine scrubs and especially the extensive areas of forest-free peaty meadows, active peatbogs with pools and the occurrence of many significant plant and animal species.
 
The climatic conditions here are not only extreme within the realms of the Jizerské hory mountains but within the whole Czech Republic. The mean annual temperature is only around 4 ºC and winter temperatures often fall below -30ºC (a temperature of -42ºC was measured in Jizerka in 1940). Precipitation levels here are also extreme with a mean annual total of around 1600 mm (2201 mm was measured during the year 1926). The snow cover usually lasts for more than 150 days and reaches heights of 150 cm and more.

The basis of the geological structure is the Krkonoše – Jizera massif with a predominance of porphyritic granodiorite. Holocene sediments formed by its weathering products have modelled the flat terrain of the Jizerka basin. A completely unique phenomenon in the area is the large number of minerals found in the gravels of the Jizerka and especially its tributary the Sapphire Creek. Many of them are among the precious stones and their extraction in previous centuries made Jizerka a well known place. As well as sapphires, which gave the locality its name, other precious stones which were panned here include rubies, zircon, spinel, pleonast and many others. The typically black precious stone – ilmenite – was originally named after this locality as iserine. Predominantly histosols have formed on the poor bedrock. The active raised bogs in the NNR are among the most extensive in the Jizerské hory mountains and the peat layer is up to 450 cm in depth.

The extensive forest-free areas are an element which gives the reserve its character. The raised peatbog “meadows” have a well developed morphology, including peatbog pools, and the largest “meadows” are the Klugeho louka, Dlouhá louka and Vyhlídková louka. The forest-free floodplain of the Kyselé roviny (“Acidic flats”) stretches along the Jizerka highway with characteristic growths of matgrass (Nardus) and moor-grass (Molinia). In the past this area was used for extensive grazing. The predominant forest types in the NNR are peaty and waterlogged spruce stands. Pine scrubs on the peatbogs cover approximately 22 ha. Other interesting tree species include rowans (Sorbus aucuparia) and groups of Carpathian birch (Betula carpatica) and the unique presence of the dwarf juniper (Juniperus communis ssp.alpina).

The flora in the reserve is comprised of the peatbog species which are typical for the Jizerské hory mountains. Examples are bog sedge (Carex limosa), hare’s-tail cottongrass (Eriophorum vaginatum), common cottongrass (Eriophorum angustifolium), deergrass (Trichophorum caespitosum), round-leaved sundew (Dosera rotundifolia), bog whortleberry (Vaccinium uliginosum), marsh andromeda (Andromeda polifolia), the cranberry Oxycoccus palustris and crowberry (Empetrum nigrum). Of special significance are the rich populations of rannoch rush (Scheuchzeria palustris) and the extensive growths of cross-leaved heath (Erica tetralix) on the Klugeho louka meadow or the only locality where the inundated clubmoss (Lycopodiella inundata) grows in the Jizerské hory mountains.

The animal populations here are also of species which are bound to the peatbogs and forest-free areas. Relict invertebrate species can be found here with many notable beetles, butterflies, dragonflies and spiders. Nesting bird species include the snipe (Capella galinago), scarlet rosefinch (Carpodacus erythrynus), redpoll (Carduelis flammea), meadow pipit (Anthus pratensis) and whinchat (Saxicola rubetra). The black grouse (Tetrao tetrix) is relatively common here and uses the open spaces on the peatbogs for its mating displays.
 
The environment in the NNR is very well preserved, even though it developed in close proximity to the glassmaking and later logging settlement of Jizerka. We have already mentioned the former grazing and the panning for precious stones in the stream gravel banks. The forests, especially those in the buffer zone have also been affected by forestry activity. A small forest railway line ran along the NW border of the NNR until the 1960s. Until the 1960s small quantities of peat were cut for balneological purposes for the nearby spa at Lázně Libverda. Today Jizerka is popular with tourists. Rašeliniště Jizerky NNR is accessible for the public along the marked Jizera highway but especially by following the themed nature trail Bukovec – Jizerka – Rašeliniště Jizerky. This trail will introduce you to the main natural and historical points of interest in the area. The active raised bog on the Vyhlídková louka is accessible along a wooden boardwalk. Visitors can obtain more information by visiting the small museum in the former school in Jizerka.