The White Carpathians belong to the outer part of the Western Carpathians. The area is based on Magura flysch, which consists of alternating sandstone and clay layers. The relief is determined by differences in the resistance of various flysch layers to erosion. Hard sandstone forms the highest, morphologically most pronounced parts, whereas places with soft bedrock create long, gentle slopes and smooth ridges.
The area lies in a transition zone between maritime and continental climates. It has a moderately warm climate at the foothill of the White Carpathians. The highest precipitation values are reached in summer, predominantly in July. Snow cover usually occurs at elevations above 300 m from the end of November until March.
Meadow diversity is very high. Up to 82 different plant species have been recorded on an area of 1 m2, creating biodiversity hotspots of European importance. Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates occur on warm slopes and consist of many different grass and herb species. Rare plants on pastures include Gentianopsis ciliata, Gentianella lutescens and Stachys germanica. Orchards like Orchis pallens, O. purpurea, O. morio, O. mascula and Ophrys holubyana are found as well.
The White Carpathians are unusually diverse thanks to their geographical location and varied plant communities, including highland elements. The species diversity of insects is high due to the low usage of pesticides, but on the other hand, the monoculture type of present land-use practices is responsible for a decreasing number of insect species in the area.
The importance of the area for species conservation
Records confirm the historical persistent occurrence of Parnassius apollo in this area. It occurred here mainly on intensive small-scale pastures. The area was also characterised by the creation of cairns. However, gradual changes in the way of farming, changes in ownership structure, the abandonment of some remote sites, and the removal of cairns led to the gradual disappearance of this butterfly.
Despite all the changes that have taken place recently, adults still appear sporadically in the area, thanks to the existence of a stable population in the nearby locality of Vršatec in Slovakia. In addition, feeding plants occur naturally throughout the territory in suitable places. However, this amount currently is not sufficient to support a permanent population, therefore Sedum species will be planted on project sites as part of the project.
The project sites located in the northern part of the White Carpathians are adjacent to the Vršatec site (SK), where a permanent population of the Apollo butterfly occurs. The interconnectedness between sites in CZ and SK is relatively poor. Nevertheless, there is partial migration, especially of males, which appear sporadically on the CZ side of the border. In cooperation with the Slovak nature conservation agency, project partners will work on setting up an improved management regime (e.g. removal of migration barriers, placing biostrips). This functional connection would be important to maintain genetic diversity and strong populations in the future.
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