Sites of Community Interest

A Site of Community Interest (SCI)

An SAC is a type of protected area in the Natura 2000 network, which is designated for the conservation of natural habitats, wild fauna and flora under the European Union Habitats Directive (92/43/EHS) from 21 May 1992 ("Habitats Directive").

SCIs included in the LIFE project cover an area of over 7678 ha.

1 Bílé stráně u Litoměřic
The white colour of limestone and opuka, which shines under the sparse vegetation of steep slopes just a short distance from Litoměřice, gave the name to one of the nine target sites in the project LIFE České středohoří. The site is important for the presence of thermophilous grassland with a typical example of plant and animal communities of white slopes with many amazing species.
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The area of the SCI consists of four individual sites - Satan peak near the village of Žitenice, white slopes near Pokratice (including Bílé Stráně natural monument), and white slopes near the villages of Knobloška and Malíč. All these sub-sites have common features. These are exposure of the bedrock of marl and clayey limestone. The soils here are stony and rich in carbonates. The sites are mostly west to southwest facing. Small landslides run on steep slopes.

On warm days, in the shade of oaks and birches, visitors to the white slopes can easily forget that they are still in Bohemia and not on the steppes of Siberia or Pannonia. Inhospitable areas on the slopes are mainly covered with annuals and fast-growing plants. Their occurrence allows the existence of other species that gradually inhabit the rocks.

In wetter places near the white slopes, alluvial forests of alder and ash trees can also be found. White slopes provide irreplaceable conditions for orchids. Among them is undoubtedly the most beautiful Czech orchid, the lady's slipper orchid. Lesser butterfly-orchid, fly orchid, and common twayblade are equally remarkable. Lady orchid and fragrant orchid also have impressive blooms. Other families are represented by plants such as burning bush, erect clematis, snowdrop anemone, bastard balm, branched St Bernard's lily, golden flax, and another flax species Linum tenuifolium, star gentian, and common ball flower. Small pasqueflower thrives on the driest places and goldilocks aster also blooms on them.

An attentive person interested in entomology can observe Bruchidae beetles, weevils, and Epitrix beetles on the white hillsides. Colourful butterflies and moths such as Jersey tiger and Alcon blue, feasting on flowers, will please everyone. The shells of Oxychilus inopinatus and Caucasotachea vindobonensis leave no doubt that gastropods are also doing well on the white slopes. Hundreds of birds chatter from the bushes and tree crowns. Lucky visitors will hear the precious Savi's warbler, or spot a hardworking lesser spotted woodpecker, digging out larvae from under the bark of the trees. Occasionally, a tourist is startled by the otherwise timid common adder.

Threats and management measures

The site is threatened by the disappearance of traditional farming, which is now being replaced by cutting sprouts and self-seeding woody plants, while keeping individual trees (e.g. fruit trees, oaks) and subsequent grazing and mowing. The potential for the occurrence of important habitats at sub-sites is also provided by large areas overgrown with shrubs and self-seeding woody plants which, after removal and subsequent introduction of grazing or mowing, can provide a new refuge for important plant and animal species.

2 Borečský vrch
West of Lovosice lies Boreč hill – a popular destination for winter walks and trips. It is at temperatures below freezing point that steam rising mystically from ventaroles is best seen. Legends tell that Boreč is an active volcano. In fact, the heating of the air is caused by its flow through the cracks inside the mountain.
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Borečský vrch SCI lies between the villages of Boreč and Bílinka, near Lovosice. Visitors are attracted by the visible occurrence of ventaroles, which are hot air outflows at the top of the hill in the winter. In contrast, in the summer the cold air drops through the crack system of slopes and rises at the foot of the debris fields. Plant and animal species that do not tolerate large temperature fluctuations are bound to these specific microclimatic conditions. Thus, old psychrophilic communities as well as species which hate frost have survived on Boreč. One such unique species is a liverwort Targionia hypophylla. This is common, for example, in the Mediterranean, and on Boreč it survives the winter thanks to the ventaroles. In a mosaic of mobile scree and stable scree, rocks and debris fields, forest stands alternate with forest-free areas with dry grasslands. The forests consist of oak, hornbeam, beech, birch and lime trees. The occurrence of the endemic whitebeam species Sorbus bohemica is also interesting. On the shrub floor there are, for example, hazel, alpine currant or alpine rose. Below the hill there are managed meadows. A number of eye-catching plants bloom in the undergrowth during the year, such as Irish saxifrage, St Bernard's lily, branched St Bernard's lily, leafless iris, fringed pink and burning bush. Less shaded rock edges allow for a stable population of eastern pasqueflower. Eurasian eagle-owl uses rocks for nesting. In the forest, fire salamanders are slowly crawling after rain, while warmer places are used by slowworm, smooth snake, and common adder.

Threats and management measures

The site is threatened by shrub and self-seeding woody plant overgrowth. Another serious problem is the change in the environment at the top of the hill as a result of tourism. Management measures will consist mainly of reducing shrubs and self-seeding woody plants with subsequent mowing or grazing.

3 Holý vrch u Hlinné
Above the charming village of Hlinná, just a few kilometres north of Litoměřice, a basalt rock wall rises as the guardian of the locals, forming the edge of a large hill. Its peaks offer unforgettable views not only of the royal town of Litoměřice, but also of a large part of the České středohoří.
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Part of the Holý vrch u Hlinné SCI are the dominant peaks of Hradiště (545 m a.s.l.) and Holý vrch - Lysá hora (574 m a.s.l.). The landscape here is a mosaic of steppe and forest-steppe habitats, occasionally disrupted by rocks with their specific thermophilous flora. Especially valuable is the occurrence of the eastern pasqueflower, its relative, the small pasqueflower subspecies bohemica and their hybrid, Pulsatilla × hackelii. From the late spring, the scent of mowed grass from local meadows rises around the hills. In the past, the area around the village of Hlinná was intensively farmed. This is evidenced by the number of stone walls and piles that formed and still form the boundaries of land. Populations of burning bush, white swallow-wort, Festuca pallens and Volga fescue thrive here. Forest stands are dominated by lime and oak trees. Cornelian cherry bushes grow among the trees. Turk's cap lily and bastard balm bloom in the forest shade. Wood bluegrass flutters across the forest. The site is still waiting for new biological research. There is a demonstrable occurrence of lesser searcher beetle and flea beetles. On the leaves, it is possible to see the tiny and beautifully coloured beetles of the Cryptocephalus genus. Mason bees fly in the area. Holý vrch u Hlinné is suitable for common toad. Common adders, smooth snakes, sand lizards, and slowworms bask on sunny spots. The singing of corn bunting, red-backed shrike, and barred warbler can be heard from trees and shrubs. During the day, northern goshawk watches the meadows carefully, while the night sky is occupied by Eurasian eagle-owl. Tree crowns are a haven for red squirrels, and sometimes a cute edible dormouse peeks out of the hollows of trees.

Threats and management measures

The site is threatened not only by shrub and self-seeding woody plant overgrowth, but also by old grass accumulation on unmanaged meadows and pastures. Changes in farming and in particular the absence of grazing in the 1990s caused a significant decrease in the population of eastern pasqueflower. The gradual elimination of shrub and self-seeding woody plants, along with the extension of existing grazing, will therefore be crucial for the maintenance and development of dry grassland with eastern pasqueflower and other important species.

4 Košťálov
The name of Košťálov SCI includes four Třebenice hills in total – Košťál (481 m a.s.l.), Jezerka (487 m a.s.l.), Ovčín (431 m a.s.l.), and Sutomský vrch (505 m a.s.l.). On one of them, Košťál, the ruins of a mysterious medieval castle can be found. The first mention of it comes from 1372, when a contemporary Czech writer and chronicler Beneš Krabice of Veitmile recorded a story about his burgrave. However, who built the castle and to whom it belonged is still unclear.
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The site consists mainly of a large forest complex with debris fields, the peaks of some hills are forest-free areas with thermophilous flora and fauna. Steppe grasses thrive here. Botanists protect the local population of orchids. Leaves of oaks and hornbeams rustle on the peaks, whose trunks on the slopes and debris fields often take bizarre shapes. Meadows scattered at the foot of the hills towards the town of Třebenice are also important for species diversity. Many important plant species grow on the site. Golden alison blooms on the rocks, and the hyacinth species Leopoldia tenuiflora also thrives in the area. Flowering broomrapes look like they are from another world, and the speargrass Stipa zalesskii silvers in the summer sun. In addition, there are rich invertebrate communities: for example, the land snail species Helicopsis striata, representing terrestrial gastropods; ladybird spider lurks on the prey from its underground lair; the red-winged grasshopper jumps through the grass and countless butterflies fly over the landscape. Of the rare ones, there is Meleager's blue and chequered blue. The site is home to a number of vertebrates, such as fire salamander and common adder. Eurasian wryneck nests in the forests and the nightingale's song can be heard from the bushes.

Threats and management measures

The site is endangered by progressive succession, which is the cause of the overgrowth of steppe species habitats on the south to south-west-oriented slopes of some hills (Košťál and Holý vrch). In the past, forest stands were negatively influenced by forest management, when non-native (habitat-wise and geographically) tree species were planted (spruce, larch, Scots pine, black pine, black locust). The planned interventions on the site consist of the restoration of steppe habitats; in forest stands, emphasis will be placed on restoring the natural species composition.

5 Lipská hora
The inconspicuous yet impressive mountain, called Medvědice (she-bear) by people who know it, stands away from the interest of tourists. Thus, nature is left alone here. However, it is wrongly neglected, as it is one of the most beautiful hills of the České středohoří.
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A wanderer will find Lipská hora near the village of Mrsklesy. It is a phonolite hill with well-preserved forest communities. Of particular interest are the preserved thermophilous oak forests and forest stands on slopes and in gorges with their related communities. Scree woodlands are equally important. The site's importance lies in the concentration of rare and specially protected species of plants and animals. Those who take a deeper look at the flora will be surprised by its variety. The top "garden" of Lipská hora is ornamented by Cheddar pink, the grape hyacinth species Leopoldia tenuiflora, and the bearberry species Arctostaphylos uva-ursi. Other important species are St Bernard's lily, lesser butterfly-orchid, bastard balm, Turk's cap lily, and globeflower. The occurrence of Cornelian cherry, which is full of flowers from early spring and full of fruits from autumn, is also of interest. Invertebrates thrive on Lipská hora as well. There are over a hundred species of ground beetles; as for spiders, the interesting and beautifully coloured ladybird spider is worth mentioning. Vertebrates are represented by sand lizard, common adder, and slowworm. Eagle owl regularly nests on the site.

Threats and management measures

The site vulnerability lies in the expansion of shrubs in places where protected plant species occur, mainly Cheddar pink and the bearberry species Arctostaphylos uva-ursi. The abandoned and overgrown meadows at the foot of Lipská hora also need care. The stepping stone site "Bílé stráně pod Lipskou horou" follows on from Lipská hora SCI.

6 Lovoš
Since time immemorial, there have been four hiking trails leading to this conical hill dominating Lovosice. The pilgrims’ aim is, of course, mainly the views, but many of them will appreciate the tourist hut on the top. It was built by members of the Lovosický středohorský spolek (Lovosice Central Bohemian Uplands Association) and was opened on 19 June 1892.
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Lovoš hill is visible from a distance. Its unmistakable silhouette, which overlooks the town of Lovosice, is a well-loved theme for many artists. Lovoš SCI also includes the lower ridge of Kybičky (489 m a.s.l.) and extends to Opárenské valley, another popular tourist destination. The SAC is a home of thermophilous steppe, forest steppe, and forest communities which are very rich in species and provide space for a large number of specially protected and rare plant and animal species. Forests are dominated by oak, beech, and hornbeam. The occurrence of downy oak is worth noting, as well as the rare whitebeam species Sorbus bohemica. Rock and scree communities, grassy steppes, and specific shrubs are equally valuable. An enthusiastic and considerate visitor will be able to observe the colourful Jersey tiger and scarce swallowtail. In the early evening, the flowers attract spurge hawk-moth. General calm is disturbed only by fights of male stag beetles, the strongest of Czech beetles. Squarrose knapweed, golden alison, the small pasqueflower subspecies bohemica, St. Bernard's lily, pale bellflower, leafless iris, the milk-vetch species Astragalus exscapus, and burning bush; these are the flowers that decorate the top parts of Lovoš. The clumps of golden feather grass and European feather grass also create an impressive spectacle. They leave no doubt that even here the rocky steppe has remained on the slope, which is, among other things, the home of sand lizard and smooth snake. Dogwood bushes, flowering inconspicuously yellow in spring, distribute their bitter berries in autumn.

Threats and management measures

Thermophilous communities, together with a large complex of old orchards at the southern foot of Lovoš, are endangered by shrub and self-seeding woody plants overgrowth from the surrounding stands (mainly hawthorn, dog rose, blackthorn, ash). Preserving these valuable thermophilous communities with the occurrence of a large number of rare plants and animals requires a comprehensive approach to planned management interventions.

7 Milešovka
In 1679, Bohuslav Balbín called it “The Queen of Middle Mountains”. The locals referred to it as Thunder Mountain, which predicts the weather. The majestic ruler of its serf hills, the highest and windiest mountain of České středohoří, 836.5 metres above sea level, has attracted people’s attention since the Stone Age and still powerfully impresses anyone who visits it and looks down from it onto the countryside.
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Milešovka is the dominant and highest point of the České středohoří, located near the village of Velemín. Directly below its peak, there are the villages of Milešov, Bílka, and Černčice. Apart from Milešovka itself, the SAC also includes a group of surrounding hills - Kamenec (552 m a.s.l.), Dubický vrch (441 m a.s.l.), Dlouhý vrch (456 m a.s.l.), and Šibeník (486 m a.s.l.). All of them have extensive preserved ecosystems, the diversity of which makes the surroundings of Milešovka so interesting for visitors who can experience debris forests and alder trees around the stream as well as picturesque pastures. Cheddar pink, similar to garden rockery plants, blooms on sunny peaks. The bearberry species Arctostaphylos uva-ursi at Výří skály reminds one of the ice age. Similarly, leafless iris on the southern slopes of Milešovka has been preserved from these times. St Bernard's lily and Martagon lily flower beautifully. On the rocks, we can find rich growths of golden alison. Cleared places in the forest suit invertebrates such as lesser purple emperor and purple emperor, both with typical shiny blue wings. In beech forests, we can find large a population of the ground beetle species Carabus irregularis. As for reptiles, we can mention sand lizard and slowworm. Representing amphibians, there is fire salamander, which uses the site not just as a hibernaculum. Nesting or visiting Milešovka, there are sparrowhawk, black stork and common raven. Mammals that occur more extensively on the site include edible dormouse and red squirrel.

Threats and management measures

The SAC is particularly vulnerable due to the negative impacts of unsuitable forest interventions in the past, so current interventions are controlled and conducted with respect to local species. Non-native invasive species are cleared. At the foot of Milešovka, grazing and mowing of meadows take place.

8 Porta Bohemica
In 2016, an extensive area lining the river Labe from Litoměřice to beyond Děčín was declared a SCI. Almost 6120 hectares of magically beautiful landscape was named as the imaginary gate to Bohemia – Porta Bohemica. On the right bank of the Labe, near Malé and Velké Žernoseky, it is formed by Hrádek and Kalvárie hills, on the left bank by Dobrý hill.
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Porta Bohemica SAC is situated in the České středohoří and Děčínská vrchovina (Elbe Sandstone Mountains). Porta Bohemica is the largest site included in the LIFE project and it consists of a deep, almost canyon-like valley, which was created by the Elbe River over millions of years. Every peak, every river bend, offers unique views. It never ceases to amaze travellers.

The river has retained its original character. The valley is captivating not only in its form but also in its habitat composition. Due to the microclimatic peculiarities, such as ice screes and sun-burnt rocks, thermophilous species common in the Mediterranean as well as psychrophilic species typical of northern Europe or mountain areas can be found in close proximity in the Labe valley. The slopes of the Labe valley are of volcanic origin. Therefore, they are mostly steep, sometimes up to 400 m high. Steep rocky slopes are usually inhabited by dry steppe grasslands, where we can find, for example, European feather grass. On two sites, steppe rock vegetation is home to green lizard.

In many places, the slopes are covered with boulder fields. In places where they are firmer, we can find scree woodlands with large-leaved lime. The forests are home to hundreds of insect species. Day-trippers are sometimes surprised by a 'giant' beetle - the stag beetle, which mainly uses oak wood for larvae development.

Pure and clear water running down the hills is home to crayfish. Waterfalls murmur in ravines. Alluvial fans are formed at the confluence with the river.

In the valley, alluvial forests with ash and alder trees grow, whose flowers are loved by the rare Jersey tiger; in the surrounding area, there is also chequered blue, scarce swallowtail, and spurge hawk-moth. Muddy alluvia are a fitting habitat for flowering rush with its decorative flowers. However, it is not the only interesting plant of Porta Bohemica. Botanists call for protection of the milk-vetch species Astragalus exscapus and Astragalus austriacus, early star-of-Bethlehem, the pasqueflower subspecies bohemica, common globularia, the spurge species Euphorbia seguieriana subsp. seguieriana, and St Bernard's lily. The river is alternately lined with reeds and tall grasses, in which many animals live their hidden life. Eurasian beaver bites willows and other trees to transform them into dams and lodges (homes). Damp and heat suit grass snake as well as smooth snake, sand lizard and slowworm.

Threats and management measures

The site is threatened by overgrowing of steppe areas with expansive shrubs and self-seeding woody plants (hawthorn, dog rose, blackthorn, ash). For the care of non-forest habitats, clearing of undesirable shrubs and self-seeding woody plants is proposed with subsequent maintenance of the area by grazing or mowing. Simultaneously, invasive and non-native species are spreading, mainly black locust and ailanthus. When restoring stands, it is necessary to remove these unsuitable woody plants preferably and replace them with the missing native species. 

9 Radobýl
Above the village of Žalhostice, within sight of Litoměřice, Radobýl hill rises. You cannot confuse it with any other hill. This volcanic hill with a historical quarry can be recognized thanks to the uncovered unique columnar jointing of basalt.
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Radobýl has become a frequent destination for walks by residents of neighbouring towns and villages, who especially enjoy the views from its top. On its slopes, however, there are well-preserved thermophilous communities, hosting a number of important plant and animal species. Radobýl is one of the seven sites in the Czech Republic with occurrence of the inconspicuous locust species Stenobothrus eurasius bohemicus. Preserved steppes, scree, rocks, forests and scrubs make Radobýl a hill of many faces. Various kinds of plants thrive here. To name the more important ones, there are purple mullein, the milk-vetch species Astragalus exscapus, St Bernard's lily, the grape hyacinth species Leopoldia tenuiflora, Spanish catchfly, and star-fruited fenugreek. Golden feather grass, hairy feather-grass, the pasqueflower subspecies Bohemica, and various species of broomrape thrive here. The occurrence of ephemeral vegetation is also of interest.

Radobýl is an invertebrate paradise. There are 32 species of molluscs, 11 species of terrestrial isopods, and 807 species of butterflies and moths. There is a unique occurrence of spurge hawk-moth, eastern baton blue and Jersey tiger.

In addition, more than 50 vertebrate species have also been recorded, such as sand lizard, slowworm, smooth snake, and hazel dormouse.

Threats and management measures

The site is threatened by overgrowing with shrubs and self-seeding woody plants, with occurrence of the invasive black locust at places. Thermophilous grasslands suffer from old grass accumulation. For the preservation and restoration of valuable habitats, clearing of shrubs with subsequent grazing by a mixed herd of sheep and goats or mowing is proposed. Radobýl is also harmed by undisciplined visitors, who throw away litter and like to move stones from debris fields in plateau for rock stacking.