Mountain forest – the world for itself
The Šumava Biosphere Reserve includes a substantial part
of the Northeast-facing portion of Bohemian Forest, almost
at the geographical centre of Europe. The main mountain ridge
straddles the border between Czech Republic and Germany or,
in the southernmost part, Austria.
For most of its 90 km length, the Šumava BR is about 10
km in width, though in parts it is 20 km wide. More than 450
km2 situated higher than 1,000 m, the highest point represents
the summit of Plechy (1,378 m). The Šumava BR (and National
Park) represents the largest continuous area of this altitude
in the Czech Republic.
Water in Vltava meanders flows peacefully like
thousands years ago
From the conservation standpoint, the values of the Sumava
Biosphere Reserve must be bilaterally viewed in the frame
of the entire Bohemian Forest, and in the European context.
The area of Bohemian Forest, almost 200,000 ha size, is
in the most extensive continuous forest of Central Europe.
Almost 80,000 ha lack well-travelled roads and highways, and
thus remain as ecologically integrated system.
The extend of forest cover is high, reaching more than 60%
in the BR and 81% in the more homogenous National Park, with
many remnant primeval and natural forests, similar to virgin
The total area of mire ecosystems and adjacent wetland and
waterlogged communities is the largest in the Czech Republic.
Due to their presence, Šumava can be called a “northern island”
in the heard of Europe.
There are many biogeographically isolated and relic plant
and animal populations surviving form the early Holocene because
of favourable landforms and habitats, such a glacial cirques,
glacial lakes, frost cliffs, scree fields and peat deposits.
For these reasons, the Šumava BR has been listed in the “Ecosystem
Red Data Book” and “Invertebrate Red Data Book” published
by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).
Šumava is the sole place in Central Europe where middle
mountains were left for several decades without management.
This has permitted spontaneous secondary succession toward
forest, resulting in a unique pattern of seminatural woodland
and various successional stages of treeless ecosystems. Thus,
the region became a unique “natural laboratory” of spontaneous
natural dynamics of non-forest ecosystems, particularly of
wetland sites, with high biodiversity and outstanding landscape.
Under the dead tree canopy new life has started
– a chance for nature
The natural values and beauty of the Sumava Mountains led
to early efforts to legally protect this landscape. In 1858
the primeval mountain mixed forest of Boubinsky Prales became
the third nature reserve in Bohemia. Today, it is one the
best known reserves in Europe. In 1963, the SŠumava Protected
Landscape Area, 163,000 ha in area, was declared, becoming
the largest large-scale reserve in the former Czechoslovakia.
One important impulse to the final success was UNESCO´s inclusion
of the Šumava Protected Landscape Area in the international
network of Biosphere Reserves in February 1990; after certain
adjustment of the boundaries, more than 167,000 ha thus became
a counterpart to the Bavarian Forest BR. Finally, the Šumava
National Park was declared in 1991, thus giving the most valuable
68,500 ha highest conservation status under the Czech laws.
Most of visitors arriving to the Šumava Mountains are attracted
by beautiful Šumava´s countryside. Most of them come to visit
the National Park, some of them because of fashion. All of
them want a service.
The tourism went through many changes in the Šumava Mountains
during the last decade. Number of tourists has increased rapidly
(e.g. almost 2,000 000 visits per year in NP) and their interest
caused the development of accompanying services. Many old
neglected buildings have been saved for pensions, cottages,
small hotels or other form of services.
Just in NP 500 km hiking trails, 400 km bicycle trails bring
an enjoyment to people visiting the largest national park
of the Czech Republic.
Horseriders. Photo: Michael Bartos
Winter season plays an important role in a regional offer.
Mild and snow-rich area provides a fantastic background for
“soft” kinds of winter tourism, e.g. cross-country skiing
or walking. People seeking for peace and quiet can find them
on 300 km ski tracks leading mainly in beautiful winter scenery
of NP. Ski slopes with elevators and cableways can be found
outside of NP, in regional ski centres in PLA. The importance
of winter season for local tourism business has increased
A big challenge is represented by a revival of culture-historical
aspect of the region. In spite the fact that most of old traditions
were tattered after World War II, many of old local skills
has appeared both to fulfil a gap in local tourism market
and to satisfy natural needs of self-realisation. Many of
regional projects are focused to revive small workshops, feasts,