Šerák – Keprník National Nature Reserve

The Šerák – Keprník NNR with its current area of 1170 ha is the second-largest reserve in Jeseníky PLA and lies in the north of the Olomoucký kraj – Olomouc Region.  The territory is located on the northern edge of the Hrubý Jeseník mountain range and includes the summit areas of the Keprník hilly region – the ridge around the peaks of Mt. Vozka, Mt. Keprník (1423 m) and the northern and eastern slopes of Mt. Šerák (1351 m). This is the oldest reserve in Moravia and the first efforts to protect the spruce stands on the mountain ridge of the massif of Šerák, Keprník and Vozka date to the beginning of the 20th century. In 1904 the owner of the estate Jan II from Lichtenstein decided to remove these growths from commercial forestry production and 172 ha of forests were included in a primeval forest reserve where human intervention should be forbidden.

The predominant forest type in the NNR are currently spruce stands of a primeval character with small-reeds and in some areas waterlogged peaty spruce stands with several saddle peatbogs. Remnants of the natural beechwoods with wood-rush have survived at lower elevations but most of the beeches have been replaced by secondary spruce plantations.

The configuration of the relief and the climatic conditions predetermined the formation and functioning of nemo-orographic systems. Within the Šerák – Keprník NNR these are the A-O systems of the Branná and Klepáčský potok streams, as well as a weakly developed system on the Hučivá Desná stream. Due to this phenomenon snow masses accumulate in the cirque-like depressions on Šerák and Keprník in winter and early spring as well as distinctive wind deflation in the summit areas.

The natural Alpine treeless habitats play host to the Alpine matgrass and three-leaved rushes of the Juncion trifidy and NardoCaridion rigidae alliances, which were seriously damaged in the past by the artificial planting of Swiss mountain pine scrubs (Pinus mugo). These pine scrubs have grown and closed so much that the Alpine treeless communities have only survived on the summits of Keprník, Vozka and Šerák. Thufurs with wood-rushes can only be found in the Hrubý Jeseník range on the summit of Mt. Keprník but this unique relict periglacial phenomena is acutely endangered by the spreading scrubs of Swiss mountain pine (Pinus mugo) which act as a thermal insulation, affects the working of the A-O system, changes the local distribution of thufurs and their root systems degrade the frost mounds.

The Carici rigidae- Juncetum trifidi association can only be found in the Czech Republic on the summits of Keprník and Vozka. Species growing on the Alpine treeless areas on Keprník include Alpine hawkweed (Hieracium alpinum), starre sedge (Carex bigelowii), three-leaved rush (Juncus trifidus), the anemone – Anemone narcissiflora, small fescue (Festuca supina) fir clubmoss (Huperzia selago), the crowberry Empetrum hermaphroditum, Alpine juniper (Juniperus communis subsp. alpina), the mountain pansy (Viola lutea subsp. sudetica) and the lovage Ligusticum mutellina. Species which grow in crevices in the summit rocky areas include the Sudetic bellflower Campanula rotundifolia subsp. sudetica, mignonette-leaved bittercress (Cardamine resedifolia), three-leaved rush (Junucs trifidus), the crowberry Empetrum hermaphroditum and other.

The Empetro hermaphroditi – Juncetum trifidi association is found on the peak of Vozka although it is very rare elsewhere in the Jeseníky mountains. Leeward localities affected by the A-O system are covered with sub-alpine tall-herb communities of the Adenostylion alliance with common monkshood (Aconitum plicatum), hedge-garlic adenostyle (Adenostyles alliariae), spotted gentian (Gentiana punctata), mezereon (Daphne mezereum) and others.

The summit areas of Vozka and part of Keprník are natural precipitation accumulation areas. Smaller raised peatbogs can be found here with bog sedge (Carex limosa), hare’s-tail cottongrass (Eriophorum vaginatum), marsh andromeda (Andromeda polifolia), bog whortleberry (Vaccinium uliginosum), cranberry (Oxycoccus palustris) and the crowberry Empetrum hermaphroditum. Common twayblade (Listera cordata) can occasionally be found on the fringes of the raised bogs. Botanical research in the NNR in 2004 – 2005 documented the occurrence of 381 vascular plant species.

The capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) is a very rare inhabitant of the area and other mountain species recorded here include black grouse (Tetrao tetrix), hazel hen (Bonasia bonasia), nutcracker (Nucifraga caryocalactes) and water pipit (Anthus spinoletta). Mammals in the NNR include Alpine shrew (Sorex alpinus) and northern birch mouse (Sicista betulina) as well as the introduced chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra). The community of Alpine butterflies includes the Tortricid moths Clepsis rogana and Sparganothis rubicunda and the pyralid moth Catoptria petrificella.

The red-marked ridge themed nature trail passes through the NNR territory as well as several other marked hiking trails. We can reach the summit of Šerák by chairlift from Ramzová. A tourist chalet is located on the summit of Šerák and a new meteorological station should be built here soon.