SL / News

8/12/2020

OAKS PRAGUE – CAN A GOLF COURCE HAVE BIOLOGICAL VALUE?

The most vulnerable open landscape types in our country include wetlands, meadows and savannah-like landscapes with scattered woody plants, with their characteristically high biodiversity. However, most such landscapes in the Czech Republic are currently affected by intensive agricultural activity. This has not always been the case.  In the past, small family farms created a diverse mosaic of fields, meadows and bosques – ideal habitats for a number of plant and animal species. Today, the agricultural landscape is homogenized, with large single-crop fields and extensively used herbicides and insecticides making agricultural land a “biological desert”. Therefore, places where landscape diversity has been maintained or developed are of high value.

In this context, the construction of the Nebřenice complex has a positive effect.  The original mosaic of scattered rural buildings, fields and forests has been turned into a golf course. From the biologist’s point of view, a golf course has almost no value in itself – low, groomed and treated grassland on artificial terrain.  However, the surrounding landscape has not lost its former value; it is still a combination of open landscape and patches of woodland of different quality.  Meadows, field paths lined with shrubs and pieces of deciduous forest have been preserved.

And, what is also very important, small reservoirs and streams have been preserved, which provide an environment for specific organisms (such as amphibians and marsh plant species); in addition, better availability of water increases biodiversity.  The project has not deprived the landscape of its original biological and aesthetic value.  On the contrary: some interventions by landscape architects have supported biodiversity, be it the species-rich meadows with a natural composition of species, or the creation of new stands of deciduous trees. The current landscape of the golf resort has potentially become a suitable home for many interesting species.

The owners of the complex have supported biological diversity, seeing the golf course as a place where ideal balance between human leisure activities and the needs of wildlife can be found.  Golfers appreciate the aesthetics of the surrounding landscape, and this aesthetics is very closely linked to the biological value of the environment. Sports venues of this type are thus ideal places for raising nature conservation issues.

The expansion of agriculture, mentioned above, is something that we have to start addressing.  Complete protection from human activity is best for spontaneously evolving environments, such as various types of “wilderness”, or national parks. Elsewhere, efforts to create “nature-like landscapes” of relatively high value, finding a compromise between nature and human activity, are worth mentioning, the Nebřenice complex being an example of one such landscape.  The complex, built in a rural landscape, has preserved its original character and, while maintaining its aesthetic value, and even adding to it, has preserved the diversity of the environment with its original types, in an effort to promote biodiversity.  The complex has a lot of potential due to the proximity of the capital, the number of users and the active support of natural processes, provided in cooperation with experts.  Oaks can thus become an ideal place not only for sports and relaxation, but also for thinking about the burning environmental issues of today’s world.

The text has been written by ecologist David Hořák from the Faculty of Science, Charles University

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