Wetland floodplains of the Danube in Slovakia

Slovakia Rewilding Projects

Wetland floodplains of the Danube in Slovakia

Slovakia Rewilding Projects

1. What is a Rewilding Vote?

2. Turtle Nest Protection

3. Meadow Habitat Restoration

4. Pannonian Root Vole Conservation

What is a Rewilding Vote?

Each two months, our members are given the chance to vote for a rewilding project they want to see us carry out at one of our projects. Together with our partners, we select three options for high-impact conservation projects that support the rewilding vision for the area. Over the last few months our rewilding interventions had been put on hold due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Now we’re extremely excited to announce that we will be kicking things off again this month at our new project area in Slovakia. Together with our amazing partners, Broz, we have a selected the following projects for our members to choose from.  

1. What is a Rewilding Vote?

2. Turtle Nest Protection

3. Meadow Habitat Restoration

4. Pannonian Root Vole Conservation

5. The Results

What is a Rewilding Vote?

Each two months, our members are given the chance to vote for a rewilding project they want to see us carry out at one of our projects. Together with our partners, we select 2-3 options for high-impact conservation projects that support the rewilding vision for the area. Over the last few months our rewilding interventions had been put on hold due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Now we’re extremely excited to announce that we will be kicking things off again this month at our new project area in Slovakia. Together with our amazing partners, Broz, we have a selected the following projects for our members to choose from.  

Turtle Nest Protection

Fossil records show the European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis) has been present in Slovakia for at least 120,000 years. However, in recent years it has disappeared from much of its range. Today, there are only two known sites with a viable breeding population in Slovakia. These turtles live in open habitats and rely on wetlands, ponds and water channels for hunting and moving. Eggs are laid in shallow depths under-ground in sandy soils with little vegetation. Hatchlings remain at the nest site throughout the whole winter and start emerging in spring following year. The turtle is losing suitable breeding habitat as land is converted to agriculture and nests destroyed and turtles killed by agricultural disturbance.

The nesting behaviour of these turtles leaves them susceptible to predators as well. Our partners have access to one of the last remaining breeding populations in Slovakia, where predation is the main threat. Predator protection measures would be an effective conservation intervention to protect this important population. Specially trained dogs would be used to survey the breeding area for active nests, which are practically invisible to the human eye. Fences would then be erected around the active nests to protect the eggs and hatchlings from predators over the summer and winter. In doing so, the project would help safeguard the future of one of Slovakia’s last remaining breeding populations of the European pond turtle.

The European pond turtle is semi-aquatic and thrives in wetland habitats.
The European pond turtle is semi-aquatic and thrives in wetland habitats.

Turtle Nest Protection

Fossil records show the European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis) has been present in Slovakia for at least 120,000 years. However, in recent years it has disappeared from much of its range. Today, there are only two known sites with a viable breeding population in Slovakia. These turtles live in open habitats and rely on wetlands, ponds and water channels for hunting and moving. Eggs are laid in shallow depths under-ground in sandy soils with little vegetation. Hatchlings remain at the nest site throughout the whole winter and start emerging in spring following year. The turtle is losing suitable breeding habitat as land is converted to agriculture and nests destroyed and turtles killed by agricultural disturbance.

The nesting behaviour of these turtles leaves them susceptible to predators as well. Our partners have access to one of the last remaining breeding populations in Slovakia, where predation is the main threat. Predator protection measures would be an effective conservation intervention to protect this important population. Specially trained dogs would be used to survey the breeding area for active nests, which are practically invisible to the human eye. Fences would then be erected around the active nests to protect the eggs and hatchlings from predators over the summer and winter. In doing so, the project would help safeguard the future of one of Slovakia’s last remaining breeding populations of the European pond turtle.

 

A predated European pond turtle egg.
Conservation grazing with livestock can help restore important open habitats.

Meadow Habitat Restoration

The White Carpathians are a mountain range on the border between Slovakia and the Czech Republic. They are covered in mosaic of forests, arable land and species rich meadows. These rare meadows are home to a diversity plants and many threatened insects and butterflies, among them the endangered Danube Clouded Yellow (Colias myrmidone). Over the past few decades, with the loss of grazing animals and conversion to agricultural land, these meadows have become overgrown and the rich communities of plants and insect have declined as a result.

This project would restore grazing to these areas by releasing goats into overgrown areas. By opening up these habitats, the project aims to halt the biodiversity decline of the non-forest habitats in the White Carpathians and protect the plant and insect species that rely on them.

Goats are useful for scrubby areas where they will happily eat woody shrubs.
The Pannonian root vole is an ice age relict of the tundra vole, but has evolved into a separate sub-species.

Pannonian Root Vole Conservation

A relict of the glacial period, the Pannonian root vole (Microtus oeconomus mehely) is a subspecies of the root vole and endemic to central Europe. It thrives in the wet meadows and wetlands that surround the Danube river. However, much of the habitat that is suitable for this species has been converted to agriculture and forestry and degraded as a result of disturbance to watercourses. As a result, Slovakia’s population of the Pannonian root vole is threatened. A landscape scale project to restore and reconnect habitats through bio-corridors and stepping stones has already begun. By purchasing land suitable for protection and restoration and carrying out beneficial land management practices, such as reed cutting, the project aims to contribute to the wider efforts to conserve Slovakia's Pannonian root vole.

Meadow Habitat Restoration

The White Carpathians are a mountain range on the border between Slovakia and the Czech Republic. They are covered in mosaic of forests, arable land and species rich meadows. These rare meadows are home to a diversity plants and many threatened insects and butterflies, among them the endangered Danube Clouded Yellow (Colias myrmidone). Over the past few decades, with the loss of grazing animals and conversion to agricultural land, these meadows have become overgrown and the rich communities of plants and insect have declined as a result.

This project would restore grazing to these areas by releasing goats into overgrown areas. By opening up these habitats, the project aims to halt the biodiversity decline of the non-forest habitats in the White Carpathians and protect the plant and insect species that rely on them.

Conservation grazing with livestock can help restore important open habitats.

Pannonian Root Vole Conservation

A relict of the glacial period, the Pannonian root vole (Microtus oeconomus mehely) is a subspecies of the root vole and endemic to central Europe. It thrives in the wet meadows and wetlands that surround the Danube river. However, much of the habitat that is suitable for this species has been converted to agriculture and forestry and degraded as a result of disturbance to watercourses. As a result, Slovakia’s population of the Pannonian root vole is threatened. A landscape scale project to restore and reconnect habitats through bio-corridors and stepping stones has already begun. By purchasing land suitable for protection and restoration and carrying out beneficial land management practices, such as reed cutting, the project aims to contribute to the wider efforts to conserve Slovakia's Pannonian root vole.

The Pannonian root vole is an ice age relict of the tundra vole, but has evolved into a separate sub-species.

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