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The Desert and the River


Drift Sands (Vate pisky) National Nature Monument is a 5.5km (3.4miles) strip of land along the railway between stations Bzenec-privoz and Rohatec.

The area of open sands has survived here due to the construction of the railway from Vienna to Krakow (The Emperor Ferdinand Northern Railway) in 1837–1856. It was necessary to keep a 30 meters (about 100ft) wide treeless strip on each side of the track as a fire protection zone, since sparkles from the passing engines posed a high fire risk. The fire buffer was maintained here until the end of the age of steam engines.

This “inhospitable” area is, however, valuable for nature conservation. There are many species of plants and animals which can only be found at this one site within the Czech Republic. Most of them are semi-desert specialists inhabiting open sands.

There were times when these open sands spread (due to intensive logging and overgrazing). Nowadays, the situation is different: if the area is left to its own development, it quickly grows over with scrub, covering the open areas, and so the specialist semi-desert species disappear. The nature conservation measures help prevent this by keeping the sands open. Some of the methods may seem rather drastic and would be unacceptable in other nature protected areas. However, here the removal of scrub, trees, and the top layer of soil serves its purpose and support nature conservation.

GPS position

N 48° 56.183', E 17° 17.386'



Vzdělávací a informační středisko Bílé Karpaty, o.p.s.
Marie Petrů
Tel.:518 322 545