Landscape Restoration in the Křemže Basin: How the Past Informs the Future
by Jan Hendrych, International ASLA, Vojtěch Storm, and Nic Pacini

The landscape change analysis in the Křemže Basin in the Czech Republic is a part of a general program for the revitalisation of Křemže Basin, which has deteriorated significantly over the past two centuries. The analysis was run by Jan Hendrych, Vojtěch Storm, and Nic Pacini in cooperation with the Daphne Institute of Applied Ecology, České Budějovice in the Czech Republic. It concentrated on the Křemežský Brook watershed and included proposals for the conservation and the restoration of natural, aesthetic, and historical landscape values.

The analysis of Stabile Cadastre maps (dating 1826-1827 in the analysed area) provided the basis for assessing recent changes in landscape structure and in land use. For our purposes, these maps demonstrate how the landscape was utilized in ancient times and the changes that have occurred following the technological revolution that started here from the middle of the 19th century, and during the later socialist development. This information served as a guideline for proposals to rehabilitate the landscape’s natural functions. The final result of the study consisted of reports and mapping exercises, drawn using GIS and projected onto recent vector maps as well as orthophoto maps at the 1:25,000 and 1:10,000 scales.

The study highlighted structural changes in the landscape due to the impact of changes in the local economy and land use practices, which in some cases reduced landscape resilience and ecological functionality.

Restoration-Figure 1

Křemže Basin. Map of the 1827 Stabile Cadastre. This section shows the rich mosaic of the cultural human landscape near the towns of Chlum and Kremze. Stabile Cadastre Imperial imprints. Figure courtesy of the Czech Office for Surveying, Mapping and Cadastre Prague.

A statistical assessment can demonstrate how significantly the environmental stability in the landscape of the Křemže Basin has worsened. Table 1 depicts comparisons of the past (Stabile Cadastre documented plots of relevant cultures) and the present (the year 2000). It gives the exact glimpse on what we lost during the past two hundred years in the open landscape and what we gained.

Restoration Table 1

Results of map processing demonstrate land use changes between 1827 and 2000. The results are interpreted as a percentage ratio increase (or decrease) for selected land use categories. Table courtesy of Vojtech Storm.

While not yet complete, we are now running a comparison of the current map with the first military mapping of the area (1760) that will bring an even clearer image on all the lost wetlands and aquatic habitats. We believe the results of that comparison will reflect losses that exceed the 75 percent noted in the table.

In addition, a look at superimposed maps can reveal the extent that fragmentation and homogenization has affected the landscape structure by disrupting the original landscape mosaic.

Restoration Figure 2
Forest and developed areas from the Stabile Cadastre land use change projection to the basic map (close up of the Brloh village area, from the original scale 1:10 000 of the State Basic Map for the year 2000). The solid dark color represents unchanged use, the light color of the same represents change, green represents forest, red represents developed areas, dotted blue lines represents the former stream meanders, and straight blue lines represents the now channelized stream. Figure courtesy of the Czech Office for Surveying, Mapping and Cadastre Prague.

The historic environmental stability in the landscape of the Křemže Basin did not occur simply because man did not touch the landscape for centuries. In fact, the former balance of ecological and productive functions of the landscape, with their high aesthetic and cultural value, was the product of a mastered human intervention within its physical limitations. During the period prior to the technological revolution, the development of an articulated landscape mosaic indicated a human desire for spatial order, purity, and boldness of forms. The ability to harmonize nature with this ideal developed during long centuries of practice. Over this extensive period, systems of footpaths (often in prehistoric trajectories), hedgerows, tree stands, and natural wetlands remained stable and unchanged, supporting a variety of wildlife and sustaining landscape stability. Such elements were crucial for the preserving landscape character, and cultural and aesthetic values. They contributed positively to landscape structural diversity and stabilized landscape functions and ecosystem services such as water cycling, nutrient processing, support to biodiversity, aesthetic appeal, and educational value.

 The maps of Stabile Cadastre graphically capture how the long-term positive human efforts in managing the spatial organization of nature have been compromised. This is an ideal reference for landscape restoration and the overall landscape value in terms of ecosystem services.

Restoration Figure 3
Remnants of the historic landscape scale and patterns near the village of Bohouškovice with the disrupted lowlands, new large scale fields, eradicated balks, hedges, tree lines, and channelized streams have worsened the local biodiversity and landscape aesthetics. Photo courtesy of Jan Hendrych.

The goal of restoring the internal harmony of the inherited landscape is to reinforce the unique symbiosis between aesthetics and ecological functionality, which is increasingly at risk. This goal is also highlighted in the European Environment Agency’s “Biodiversity – 10 messages for 2010” as “Message 10: Cultural landscapes and biodiversity heritage.”

Currently, the restoration efforts are undergoing a decision-making process within the local communities and responsible offices. Some of the efforts are being developed in the framework of the land and plots reformation and consolidation process and then implemented directly on the landscape.

Jan Hendrych currently is the Landscape Research Project Coordinator for the Silva Tarouca Research Institute for Landscapes and Ornamental Gardening in Pruhonice, Czech Republic. He can be reached at:

Vojtěch Storm is a freelance landscape architect and researcher, and former landscape architecture manager for the Protected landscape Area Blansky Les in the Czech Republic.  He can be reached at:

Nic Pacini is with the Department of Ecology, Università degli Studi della in Calabria, Italy, and specializes in water management and ecology. He can be reached at:

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