Nature and Landscape
As set out by current legislation, above all Act no. 114/1992 Coll., on Nature and landscape protection as amended, nature and landscape protection is divided into general site and species protection and special site and species protection.
General nature and landscape protection comprises protection of landscape, species diversity, natural values and aesthetic values of nature, as well as conservation and considerate use of natural resources. Act no. 114/1992 Coll., on Nature and landscape protection as amended (Nature and Landscape Protection Act) defines the following areas of protection:
- general landscape protection, encompassing the following instruments: territorial system of ecological stability, outstanding landscape element, landscape character, nature park, and temporarily protected area;
- general species protection, guaranteeing that all plant and animal species are protected against destruction, damage, collection and hunting. General plant and animal species and habitat protection includes the important instrument of protection of wild birds and trees growing outside forest;
- general protection of the inanimate component of nature and landscape (protection of caves, natural surface phenomena related to caves, palaeontological finds, and minerals).
Special Nature and Landscape Protection is one of the most important instruments for nature and landscape protection. Act no. 114/1992 Coll., on Nature and landscape protection as amended defines six categories of specially protected areas as an important instrument in site protection. They comprise national parks (NP), protected landscape areas (PLA), national nature reserves (NNR), nature reserves (NR), national nature monuments (NNM), and nature monuments (NM). The protection is mostly aimed at conservation or improvement of the preserved state of a site, or leaving the site or its parts to spontaneous development.
Furthermore, the Nature and Landscape Protection Act and its related executive regulations provide the legislative guarantee to special protection of selected, rare or scientifically or culturally significant plant and animal species. Three categories of protection of specially protected plant and animal species are defined depending on their level of endangerment: critically endangered, endangered, and threatened species; the list of the species, including their conservation status, is attached in the form of multiple annexes to Executive Regulation no. 395/1992 Coll. Rescue schemes are organised for species threatened by extinction as comprehensive sets of measures eliminating or alleviating the known threatening factors and improving the conditions for the species’ development.
The fundamental EU regulations on nature and landscape protection (Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora, Council Directive 79/409/EEC on the conservation of wild birds; or the Habitats and Birds Directives) were transposed into the Nature and Landscape Protection Act upon the Czech Republic’s accession to the EU on 1 May 2004. The transposition of the two Directives modified the species protection in the sense of the Directives, including the list of specially protected species. In addition, the transposition caused the Czech Republic to adopt commitments in the area of nature site protection, consisting in the establishment of an adequate component in the system of protected areas of European importance, the Natura 2000.
On the same day, the Czech Republic also transposed Council Directive 1999/22/EC relating to the keeping of wild animals in zoos, which was reflected in Act no. 163/2003 Coll., on the Conditions for the operation of zoological gardens and amending some acts (Zoo Act).
The Ministry of the Environment also guarantees the fulfilment of obligations derived from the Czech Republic being a party to international conventions (such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species – CITES), programmes, projects and organisations in the biodiversity protection area, and develops overall strategies for international co-operation in nature and landscape protection within the jurisdiction of the conventions (such as the fulfilment of obligations derived from the Czech Republic being a state party to the International Union for Conservation of Nature – IUCN, and the executive authority for CITES).