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Scientists: Czech landscape needs wisents, wild horses, aurochs

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Prague, Aug 7 (CTK) – Tens of millions of crowns may be saved if large ruminants such as wisents, wild horses and aurochs are reintroduced in the Czech landscape, according to the Alternative Ecosystems Management, director of the Czech Landscape, Dalibor Dostal, has told CTK.

The large animals may be used in the military training areas and postindustrial areas for the maintenance of non-productive agricultural land and large protected areas, Dostal said.

Money is often spent on contracts for mowing of meadows or grazing by domestic animals, he added.

The results of the Alternative Ecosystems Management project have shown than instead of artificial imitation of management, which often does not work, natural mechanisms should be used for the care, Dostal said.

The applied research project was sponsored by the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic. It focuses on steppes, natural and semi-natural meadows and pastures.

Scientists have identified 145 suitable areas for the Czech Republic.

The three most important types of ruminants contributed to the shaping and maintenance of the open landscape for hundreds of thousands of years, Dostal said.

“In the Czech Republic, a similar landscape type has been on the wane for long. Along with this, this affects a number of threatened species,” Martin Salek, from the Institute of Vertebrate Biology in Brno, said.

In the countries with European top nature conservation, the animals have been successfully used for landscape conservation.

In the Czech Republic, there is a pilot project in the former military training area Milovice, central Bohemia.

Thirty adult wild horses, six adult aurochs and eight adult wisents live on two pastures of 160 hectares in total at present.

However, with a rising number of their young, the reserve will have to be extended as soon as possible to secure enough grazing land for all the animals.

In Western Europe, this type of landscape conservations is applied in Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. In the latter country, wisents and wild horses maintain a landscape measuring several hundreds hectares on the outskirts of the town Haarlem.

The grazing of large ruminants is not suitable for the localities under 20 hectares.

Some Czech protected landscape areas, national parks and regional authorities have expressed interest in the use of large ruminants for landscape conservation, the scientists said.

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