Terrain shapes and bedrock
According to COUNTRYAAH, the Czech Republic is mainly located on a resilient block of stone, mostly consisting of crystalline shales and well defined by series of faults. Topographically, the Czech Republic mainly forms a large stream, the Czech basin, which is surrounded by highlands and furthest from marked mountain ridges. Among the latter are the Krušné hory (Erzgebirge), whose bedrock is dominated by gneiss and slate and where high fault slopes and peaks exceeding 1,200 m above sea level present.
Further to the east, the Sudets form a series of horst-like ridges, which make up the northeastern border of the Czech Republic and have the highest point in the country, Sněžka, 1,603 m above sea level. The Czech border on the southwest consists of Šumava (Böhmerwald) with several peaks above 1,300 m above sea level.
In the Czech Republic flows from the south rivers Vltava (Moldau), which south of Prague receives Berounka and the north then unites with Labe (Elbe), which, before the breakthrough of the rand mountains in the north receives Ohře.
The southeastern Czech Republic consists of Morava (Moravia), which is a disintegrated highland. There is a karst area around Brno.
The Czech Republic is in the border area between the hot and cold temperate humid climate zones. The climate is a middle ground between a mild and leveled sea climate and the more diverse continental conditions in Eastern Europe. The climatic variations in the country are small and the weather can change quickly regardless of the season. The summers are moderately hot and rain showers are common. Hot days occur relatively rarely. Winters often offer longer periods of calm and cold weather, and extreme cold occurs in connection with eastern winds from the European inland.
A large part of the country is highland (more than 300 m above sea level), which greatly affects the temperature conditions. The annual average temperature usually varies between 5 °C and 9 °C. In January, the average temperature is −3 °C to −5 °C, while the summer months are 18 °C. The number of days with temperatures below 0 °C is usually about 30 but in higher terrain above 80.
Most precipitation falls during the summer months. The annual average rainfall is 500–750 mm but in higher terrain over 1,200 mm. The number of rainy days is less than in Western Europe and the number of sun hours is greater.
Plant-and animal life
The Czech Republic is densely populated and wild animals and plants must therefore adapt to a man-dominated landscape. The western part of the country, Bohemia, is dominated by lower, wooded mountains alternating with agricultural countryside. The eastern part of the Czech Republic, the Moravia, is more lowland and cultivated.
In the southeastern Czech Republic, in the border with Slovakia and Austria, lies one of the country’s most important natural areas. Here, the Dyje, Morava and Danube rivers form a “green heart” with gallery forests (dominated by oak, poplar and al), marshes, mosses, reeds and meadows located between Czech Brno, Slovak Bratislava and Austrian Vienna. Within 50,000 ha, a variety of species such as beaver, otter, sea eagle, emperor eagle, tatar falcon, black stork and white stork, barley, egret and the rare marsh golden wing (Lycaena dispar)). Due to the great natural weather, the Dyje-Morava-Danube triangle has been nominated for a World Heritage Site.
Further upstream of Dyje in southwestern Moravia near the border with Austria lies Podyjí National Park, a valley with pristine forests of oak, beech, ebony, silver fir and ivy. Along the southern slopes there is a steppe-like flora and fauna with hair feathers (Genista pilosa), turtle, emerald lizard (Lacerta viridis) and steppe pills (Mustela eversmanii) while the colder northern sides favor species more attached to mountains such as alpros and pearl owl. Along Dyje, black stork and otters thrive, and in the steeper parts of the mountains. Thayatal National Park protects the Austrian side of the valley.
In the southwestern Czech Republic on the border of the German Bayerischer Wald and Austria is Šumava National Park and Biosphere Reserve. Due to the extensive forests of the three countries, the area is sometimes also referred to as the “green roof of Europe”. During the Cold War, the Iron Curtain, which separated the communist-controlled Eastern Europe from the West, stretched straight through the area. The National Park was founded in 1991, two years after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Thanks to the military zone, nature was given a greater leeway here than in many other parts of the densely populated central Europe.
Some small and few “forest remains” have been given strict protection, but due to the late forestry, forest composition is predominantly dominated by spruce. Unlike the Bayerischer Wald National Park on the German side, the annual attacks on bark borers in Šumava have so far not been given the opportunity to naturally rejuvenate the forest and create more original ecosystems, which has led to conflicts between forestry and nature conservation.
The natural composition of the forest consists of a mixture of beech, silver spruce and spruce. On the numerous mosses, dwarf birch and shrunken mountain pines grow. In the moisture wickets, stickballs dominate. Lo has successfully planted and the first rejuvenation of wolves reported in 2010. Among the birds seen boreal species such as grouse, Ural owl, boreal owl, white-backed woodpecker, three-toed woodpecker and Ring Ouzel. In the streams you find the rare river pearl mussel. In a nearby military area (Boletice), the first releases are planned by the Deputy, which was once widespread in Bohemia and throughout the Czech Republic.
In the northern Czech Republic, where the river Elbe reaches Germany, a dramatic and attractive mountain landscape has been designed with deep ravines. Here you will find Europe’s largest sandstone canyon, which already in the late 18th century inspired several romantic painters. Two national parks – German Saxon Switzerland and Czech České Švýcarsko – have been allocated on both sides of the border to channel an extensive tourist stream. Here, pilgrim hawks nest in the rocks and black stork, garden sleepers and sparrow find habitat in the forests of beech and pine. The beaver has recently colonized from re-implantation downstream of Elbe and salmon release from Norway has begun to create a wildlife strain.
In northeastern Bohemia on the border with Poland, the Krkonošský National Park is located in the westernmost foothills of the Sudeten Mountains with the Czech Republic’s highest mountain Sněžka (1,602 m) and extensive, high alpine sections above the tree line. In the recent ice age, this mountain area formed a refuge for plants and animals and many so-called glacial relics such as cloudberries, patchwork and purple brackets have an important occurrence here, and no less than 30 different species of fibula have their only occurrence here. Combination with the unique, northern plants and the occurrence of bird species such as mountain whip, blue hawk, ring thrush and rock falconhas made Krkonošský famous worldwide as “the Arctic island in the heart of Europe”. On the Polish side is the smaller and more exploited Karkonoski National Park with less natural values than in the Czech Republic.
Nature conservation in the Czech Republic includes larger areas in the form of national parks and protected landscapes, and smaller areas in the form of nature reserves and national monuments.
The Czech Republic has four national parks covering a total of 1.5% of the country’s area: Krkonošský, Šumava, České Švýcarsko and Podyjí. Of these, Šumava (in the Bohemian Forest) is the largest. About 12% of the area is landscaped. In addition, there are a large number of sites within the Natura 2000 network, which comprise 18% of the country’s area.