Country Profiles

Czechia - Country Profile

Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

The Czech Republic is an inland country in Central Europe. Its dominant physical elements are mountains and water systems. In spite of its relatively small size (78,866 km2), it is characterized by a high degree of wild plant and animal species richness, resulting from its geographical position at the boundaries between several biogeographical regions, morphological and geological diversity as well as from historical and cultural developments. A natural barrier is created by the two mountains systems between which the country is located. The main European watershed also passes through the country to divide the northern and southern drainage areas. From the peak of Mt. Kralický Sněžník in the northeast (1,423 metres a.s.l.), water runs into three different seas according to which slope receives rain. The country is one of the most important crossroads on the migration routes of the certain biota (e.g., main Eurasian bird flyways).

There are more than 2,700 vascular plant species, 2,400 lower plant species, 50,000 invertebrate species and about 390 vertebrate species in the Czech Republic. According to the IUCN Red List categories, 19% of mammal species, 50% of bird species, 55% of reptile species, 43% of amphibian species, 40% of freshwater fish species and 43% of vascular plant species are threatened by extinction.

There are a total of 24,906 water reservoirs and fishponds as well as a hydrographical network of watercourses consisting of 76,000 km of natural or modified riverbeds. While the drinking water supply in the Czech Republic is adequate, water loss within the piping system is still relatively high at 18.5%. Most watercourses are polluted or mildly polluted and smaller watercourses with lower annual flow rates are most affected. Although discharged pollution has decreased, contributing to the improvement of surface water quality, the Czech Republic has heavy defoliation damage in forest stands as a result of acid rain. In 2012, more than 55% of evaluated forests were put into categories with a high degree of damage (which was the highest among European countries). With greenhouse gas emissions increasing at an annual rate of nearly 4%, the current trend is not favorable (in spite of the fact that the Czech Republic has already fulfilled its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol).

The area of forested land is increasing annually by 0.07% and reached 33.9% of the country's total area in 2012. Almost 69% of these forests were certified according to the Pan European Forest Certification (PEFC) system and 1.9% of forests are certified according to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) scheme in 2012. At present, 54% of the country’s land area is under agricultural production. It should also be noted that the obligation to add a bio-component to fuels has been in place since 1 September 2007, which has resulted in an annual increase of 15.5% in the area used for rapeseed oil production. The area of organic agricultural land is also developing quickly and the national objective to have 10% of agricultural land dedicated to organic farming by 2010 has been met. Additionally, the toxicity of chemical substances used in agriculture has also fallen significantly over the last 20 years. Despite these improvements in agricultural practices, an overall long-term decline of agricultural birds and other species, dependent on environments with hedges, shrubs, field edges and less intensely farmed land, has developed.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

Many areas within the country are highly affected by urbanization, intensive agriculture, forest management practices, and the development of new transport infrastructures. The Czech Republic displays high landscape and habitat diversity and there is no doubt that agricultural practices have contributed to an increase in these features. However, agriculture is also counted as a significant cause of the loss of rural landscape biodiversity. The most significant reduction of species diversity occurs in areas with intensive farming and strong disturbances to original landscape structures. These practices often cause many changes related to water runoff, watercourse pollution and overall soil degradation, affecting natural soil fertility, water retention ability and species richness dependent on rich agricultural landscape. However, by far the most serious driver of change in agricultural biodiversity is water erosion. In the Czech Republic, more than half of the agricultural land is potentially threatened by it.

Regarding the increase in greenhouse gas emissions observed in the country, mobile sources, and specifically road transportation sources, seem to be the main cause of this as most other monitored categories of sources have either decreased or stagnated in regard to emissions. Mobile sources have thus become the second most significant source of greenhouse gases after fuel combustion. The primary source is the result of the persistently high proportion of energy-intensive production, solid fuel use of electricity and heat generation and the low proportion of nuclear power stations and renewable sources of energy.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The main objective of the National Biodiversity Strategy of the Czech Republic adopted in 2005 was to create a document for biodiversity conservation in the Czech Republic that would be both intersectoral and interdisciplinary. The National Biodiversity Strategy of the Czech Republic was prepared with consideration given to implementing the EU Biodiversity Action Plan to 2010. Chapters are divided into strategic themes (e.g., Ecosystem Approach, in situ conservation, ex situ conservation, sustainable use) and into aspects on biodiversity mainsteaming in sectoral policies (e.g., agriculture, forest ecosystems, water and wetland ecosystems). Implementation of the Strategy was to substantially contribute to achieving the objectives previously set out in the National Sustainable Development Strategy. Attention would also be paid to consistent implementation of applicable legislation and already approved policies, and to preparation of new legislation, as outlined in the Strategy. The Strategy, in itself, does not encompass additional financial requirements from state budgets.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The agricultural sector has taken numerous steps in agricultural biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of its components. Measures (e.g., ecological agriculture production, integrated production, sustainable grassland management, growing of intercrops, management of mesophilic and hydrophilic meadows, enhancement of landscape connectivity in farmland) have been carried out in High Nature Value Areas. In situ biodiversity conservation measures in agriculture mainly focus on soil organisms by ensuring environmentally friendly farming procedures. Ex situ measures are ensured by the National Programme on the Conservation and Utilisation of Plant, Animal and Microbial Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, which is divided into three respective programmes aimed at the conservation of crop genetic resources, farm animals, fish, bees and microorganisms.

The Crop Research Institute coordinates the conservation of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and the genetic resources of microorganisms. It operates an extensive gene bank with seed collections for food and agriculture and an important electronic information system (EVIGEZ) on plants. It is engaged in international activities with organizations like FAO and Bioversity International. The programme is particularly important in terms of activities carried out to evaluate, characterize and document individual samples. The Institute of Animal Science coordinates the conservation of animal genetic resources and serves as the National Reference Centre for storage and use of animal genetic resources (the centre is also a member of the European Regional Centre for animal genetic resources).

Efforts towards land reclamation, elimination of serious environmental burdens and “brownfields” (industrial buildings and land intensively used in the past that are now unused), are being financially incentivized by the EU’s Operational Programme (Environment). Efforts have proven very successful however in 2009 there were still more than 9,400 sites in need of cleaning.

The principles of eco-tourism are also partly included in state policies and strategies. There are no official programmes in place for tourism operators however some projects for eco-guide services in protected areas are in development.

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

The Czech Republic has a policy objective of supporting the certification process of forests within the Pan-European Forest Certification system. The National Forest Programme (NFP) is also in place.

National legislation linked to biodiversity conservation exists for different areas (e.g., Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), breeding conditions, conservation of genetic resources of plants and microorganisms, invasive species, protection of nature and landscape, hunting and game-keeping, phytosanitary measures, fisheries). Legislation also exists to guarantee preservation programmes and management plans for endangered species.

The Ministry of the Environment provides financial support for a number of programmes/schemes (e.g., landscape management, urban areas, Natura 2000 sites, management of national park forests, Life+, restoration of natural landscape functions, improvement of the state of nature and landscape, river system restoration).

Agro-environmental measures aimed at farming in High Nature Value areas were financially supported by the Government’s Horizontal Rural Development Plan. Further, international funding from Norway assists in funding preservation programmes for endangered species. Funding is also provided by the EU for the LIFE+ Programme which aims to develop and implement the EU’s environmental policy and legislation, with a primary focus on Natura 2000 sites and biodiversity conservation in these areas mainly.

NBSAP mainstreaming has occurred across various ministries, including Transport, Industry and Trade, Education, Youth and Sports and Foreign Affairs. Outcomes of implementation consist of improved quality of transport infrastructure in relation to the environment, including noise reduction and monitoring, increased renewable energy production and solution-seeking on issues such as wind and water erosion.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

Freshwater quality monitoring is obligatory according to the EU Water Framework Directive (2000) and the National Water Act (2001). Almost 300 watercourse profiles and selected border streams are monitored 12 times a year according to various indicators. A wide range of organic substances and radioactive substances are also monitored. Likewise, data on air quality monitoring have been systematically collected in the Czech Republic since 1980 and inventoried in the Register of Emissions and Air Pollution Sources (REAPS).