The vegetation in Šumava is a typical example of the Central European highlands, although it also has specific characteristics, especially provided by the relative proximity of the Alps. Šumava itself, except for small stretches of the foothills, is not brimming over with a variety of natural conditions. The flora is therefore somewhat uniform, diversified rather by anthropogenic than by natural influences.

The initial deposit into the Šumava phytogene pool began in ancient times in the Earth's geological past. It therefore corresponds with Central European vegetation, dictated by the location, range of altitudes, climate and climate changes throughout the centuries.



Threats to peat habitats
The peat ecosystems can be adversely affected by a whole range of economic activities, especially activities linked to forestry and agriculture.

1) The primary negative factor for the hydrology conditioned peat bog communities is understandably any change in the water regime, especially drainage, not only at the actual deposit site, but also within the wider vicinity.

Virtually all of the Šumava peat bogs were more or less influenced in the past centuries by changes in the water regime. However, in most cases, the water was diverted from the forests using open trenches to improve conditions for cultivating the forest and increasing its stability.
The increased draining of the neglected agricultural lands particularly affected the group of minerotrophic meadow spring peat bogs which virtually disappeared.

2) Extraction of peat is a direct distortion factor, which on a small scale and when scattered caused damage in the past; such activities often brought a revival of the peat creation process and the restitution of more valuable communities from earlier phases of the bogs. However, many smaller meadow deposits of peat completely disappeared as a consequence of this.
Present day industrial peat extraction is concentrated in three locations although it will be gradually phased out. This method has resulted in the permanent disappearance of the original peat habitats.

3) Improper methods of forest management, often accompanied by disasters (wind, bark-beetle) have now resulted in the complete denudation of forest uplands and peat bogs with a consequent change in the microclimate.

4) Until recently, minerotrophic meadow peat bogs were threatened by all the factors of "intensive" agriculture, from major recultivation through deep and systematic drainage up to the ploughing and creation of permanent grasslands. Locations with minerotrophic and ombrotrophic vegetation, which are next to the agricultural lands, and are not usually directly affected by human activities, are at risk due to flights over the locations and the washing of applied agricultural fertilizers.

5) The direct impact of air pollution on the local peat bog vegetation has not yet been elucidated in detail. It is certainly beginning to show in a negative sense on the woodland (mainly spruce) peat communities; the retreat of the trees would not have to be in principle a major negative factor, if other essential components of the peat ecosystems were not also affected. The global negative impact of air pollution has so far been indirect, through the forest into the wider background of peat locations.

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