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Právo: Moravian Sahara among Europe’s endangered habitats

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Prague, Jan 26 (CTK) – The remnants of a sand steppe near Hodonin, south Moravia, where Moravian Sahara spread in the past, is on the new list of threatened habitats of Europe, which Czech science experts have completed for the EU, daily Pravo writes today.

The area hosts hundreds of rare plants and animals that are threatened with extinction unless their habitat is saved. Some of them seem to be doomed to die out irrespective of human intervention, the daily writes.

The Red List of European Habitats, completed in cooperation with European experts, includes sites such as peatlands in northern Norway and forest pastureland in the Scandinavian and Baltic countries.

While completing it, Czech experts found out that many rare localities remain unprotected.

Moravian Sahara is an example of a bygone biotope. Few people know that in the past, it was formed by sand dunes and afflicted by sandstorms similar to African.

In the 19th century, people planted trees in the area. Sandstorms subsided and the original vegetation started to disappear, the daily writes.

“Moravian Sahara needs help. We will have a lot to do to save it,” the paper quotes Brno’s Masaryk University expert Milan Chytry, one of the red list’s authors, as saying.

Remnants of the original steppe have been preserved thanks to soldiers and railways. The military used the locality as a training ground for many years in the past, keeping the area unchanged. Most recently, it has been invaded by a forest, however.

The original desert steppe can be found along a local rail track since railway workers have removed pine trees from its vicinity in order to prevent fires caused by sparkling wheels.

While the south Moravian steppe can be revived by the removal of forests, the situation of rare peatlands combined with ice in the north of Norway, Finland and the European part of Russia is more serious. They have been threatened by thawing.

Pasturelands in northern countries have been disappearing due to invading forests, the daily writes, citing the red list.

Other extremely rare habitats are the mountain lawns on the Madeira island, the home of many plants that occur nowhere else. Nevertheless, the lawns are very small, and they threaten to disappear due to insufficient protection.

The red list of ailing European habitats contains 500 areas from all over the continent, Pravo writes.

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