Department of Cultural Landscape and Sites
The Department of Cultural Landscape and Sites is responsible for research activities dealing with changes in the cultural landscape. By combining the working methods of various specializations from the field of landscape architecture, landscape and urban design, science and arts, it contributes to environmental conservation and development for a better quality of life. It is thus developing a research programme of a long tradition for the Institute. Apart from their research activities, employees of the department are involved with educational and documentation activities, support of state administration, public education, consulting, and designing. They also form technical and expert opinions in the applied dendrology, garden and landscape architecture fields.
Main Research Themes
- Landscape Development and Changes
- Natural and Cultural Heritage Management
- European Landscape Convention
- Greenery in Urban and Rural Areas
- Plants in Human Settlements and Landscapes
This research deals with the changes within cultural landscape, particularly in the parts which are valuable in regard to culture and history. Special attention is paid to designed landscapes regarding distinctive types of cultural landscapes in which their design was purposefully developed by humans activities following what is considered to be an in-advance aesthetical intention. Changes in the landscape are evaluated by studying old maps – collected mapping sources (military mapping, permanent land register) as well as individual maps. For the period of the 20th century, aerial photographs and ortophotomaps are also used as a source of information. The data is digitalized and analysed using GIS. In addition, written and pictorial archive materials are also used as sources of information illustrating the character and the changes of the landscape in the past. The changes in the landscape and its components are assessed and interpreted in order to serve as a basis for qualified land use planning, land management and for the conservation of natural and cultural values of respective territories. For example, a detailed analysis of historical landscape development in the “Nové Dvory” and “Žehušice” areas (carried out over a 5-year project) contributed to the completion of supporting materials for planning of territory development following the principles of the European Landscape Convention.
Currently, the research focuses on landscape development and its diversity in the territories of landscape heritage zones. These analyses assist in designing of plans for conservation and regeneration in the territories of this category of cultural and natural landscape values. Sufficient attention has not yet been paid to these issues in the Czech Republic.
A landscape assessment in the outerlying areas of the Carpathians (the Hostětín and Romanian Banat regions) portrays another project to be resolved, carried out in close cooperation with other departments of VÚKOZ and other research institutions. The Department of Cultural Landscape and Human Settlements ensures, in particular, a historical-geographical assessment of monitored phenomena and changes.
Fig.: Assessment of land cover changes in the region of “Nové Dvory” and “Žehušice” using old maps and aerial photographs. The analysis was verified on the maps of various scales.
In this field, particular attention is paid to the following research areas:
Garden Art Monuments
This research deals with the heritage of garden art monuments and landscape architecture. In the past, a list of historical parks and gardens in the Czech Republic was compiled, including brief data concerning individual objects. The research deals with the identification of various risks to these heritage objects and proposes methods to resolve possible conflicts resulting from the interests of various parties involved. Methodologies and procedures dealing with a sustainable use of these heritage objects in order to preserve their heritage value were established,. All aspects (i.e. historical, design, dendrology, etc.) were monitored. In the representative sample of heritage objects, a comprehensive assessment of an assortment of woody species was carried out. At the same time, a methodology to update current data on their species composition was also developed. For selected heritage objects, their development and design integration into their neighbouring environment were studied in regard to development of gardening in the Czech Republic and Europe. Methodologies to integrate conservation of garden architecture works were established, including design relationships in respective development strategies of these localities.
Landscape Conservation Areas
A multidisciplinary research of conservation and management of historical cultural landscape (carried out in the territory of landscape heritage zones) focuses on obtaining more information about the cultural-historical and natural values of respective territory as well as the development of an integrated system of tools of modern record systems, conceptual conservation and regeneration of these areas. Attention is paid mainly to improving the conditions of conservation and management of this part of cultural heritage and finding an interdisciplinary consensus in the environment of landscape planning, heritage management and nature conservation. The work will result in the completion of methodologies to prepare plans of conservation and regeneration of landscape conservation areas, including a proposal of a monitoring indicator designed to monitor the quality and sustainability of their development. The project is the first large contribution to improve awareness of the values of landscapes protected in this way and to ensure long-term conditions for their management in a sense of national legislation as well as international conventions. There is direct follow-up research and development of methods to implement the European Landscape Convention while, by its ratification, the Czech Republic has committed to landscape conservation and management and its structure as well as to the European cooperation in this area.
See also: http://www.kpz-naki.cz/
Urban Heritage Zones
The work aims at the conservation and regeneration of greenery in human settlements of cultural-historical value. Attention is paid to the documentation and analysis of the current state of woody species and development of greenery management in urban heritage zones. The quality of individual types of vegetation at various sites is assessed with regard to heritage management and current requirements for functionality of the area within urbanistic structure of a human settlement. In addition, the economic side of greenery development is assessed. The data obtained is processed using GIS and can be used as a data layer of geographical information system of the National Heritage Institute. Results will be used for completion of a methodology to evaluate greenery in regard to cultural-historical aspects and to establish principles of its regeneration. In addition, a methodology to value hedgerows, green walls, and specially shaped woody species will represent another output of the work while complementing a set of already established methodologies to value various groups of ornamental plants that can be implemented mainly in the case of their destruction, damage, or elimination.
See also: http://www.zelenempz.cz
Historical Tree Avenues, Allées
A research of historical tree avenues and alleés located at historical sites as well as in cultural landscapes dealing with the analysis, record maintenance, setting and administrating a database of outstanding tree avenues contributes to obtaining information on maintaining and renewing important cultural and natural heritage. In addition, it includes propagation of time-tested long-living avenue woody species and setting a gene bank of grafted plants of selected historically and aesthetically valuable species of trees, perspective with regard to the traditional character of landscape. These collections will serve as a further monitoring and selection as well as the basis of the propagation material.
See also: http://www.aleje.upol.cz
Within the projects concerning natural and cultural heritage management, the research also deals with biodiversity and its changes related to changes in vegetation management. The work deals mainly with representation, quality, and heterogeneity of natural habitats, processes of their degradation, possibilities of regeneration and relationship to cultural-historical monuments. Such management methods of historical-cultural monuments are sought after which would also facilitate the conservation of biological phenomena. To a considerable extent, the research also deals with the spreading of invasive plants and the dynamics of ruderal plant communities, including assessment of the possibilities of the conservation of synanthropic archaecoenoses. The most important results were obtained when studying the effect of pasture management on regeneration of species-rich vegetation of xerothermic grasslands.
Already since 2002, the Institute, as one of the first in the Czech Republic, has been dealing with the research of possibilities to implement the European Landscape Convention at a national as well as European level. Between 2002–2004, the research was supported by the Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic. Between 2006–2011, a case study was conducted regarding the implementation of the European Landscape Convention in the intensively used farming areas showing marks of historical landscape management. This case study was funded as a grant project of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and solved in cooperation with the Faculty of Science, Charles University, and many other co-operators, The “Nové Dvory” – “Kačina” territory in the Kutná Hora district was chosen as a model area – an example of the intensively farmed landscape with a still existing prominent mark of baroque and classicist landscape management. Summarised results of the project were published in two books: „Landscape Development of Nové Dvory and Žehušice areas in Central Bohemia (2011)“ and in a subsequent monography „Current State and Vision of Nové Dvory and Žehušice Landscapes in Central Bohemia (in press)“. On the basis of a comprehensive analysis of landscape development and its current state, its strong and weak points were defined, optional scenarios of possible development were presented and a vision of responsible landscape management was formulated.
At present, the Institute cooperates with a number of other institutions (Faculty of Gardening, Mendel University in Brno, University of Palacký in Olomouc, CENELC.CZ, Bioinstitut); for example, on the basis of the current project „Impacts and risks of non-compliance with the European Landscape Convention“.
The work objective is the regeneration and conservation of greenery in urban and rural areas, especially in the following two areas:
Methodologies are developed to assess the quality of individual types of greenery of various functions.
On the basis of such analysis, stability of individual sites is assessed and a suitable method of management is proposed. Proposal of management considers not only satisfaction of recreation and representation functions of respective area, but also its importance for the human environment and nature conservation. Established methodological principles are intended mainly for the managers of greenery in smaller towns, authors of the concept and plan of development of urban and rural greenery and for the offices of municipal districts. The work resulted in two case studies – the first for the municipal district Prague 3 and the second for the town of Benátky nad Jizerou.
Attention was also paid to the possibilities of regeneration of residential courtyards within blocks of flats. Surveys of 175 such courtyards or their parts in the Prague territory were carried out. A current state of greenery was characterized in detail with regard to a number of aspects (town planning, transport, micro-climatic and hygienic, terrain, housing and with regard to operational conditions within the courtyards of the blocks of flats). Possibilities of their regeneration were prepared through assessment of the obtained data,. A methodology was established for the designers and managers of these residential premises which reccomended a procedure of works when planning and preparing a project of their regeneration. The work is a response to the changed ways of using the area, carefully drawing attention to the options of regeneration available and making changes in greenery of courtyards of the blocks of flats. In addition, it includes principles of selecting plant material and a recommended selection of plants for these specific sites.
Greenery in Rural Areas
Currently, attention is paid especially to greenery in rural areas. A current project aims at the implementation of case studies and, on their basis, establishing general procedures for creating a harmonic greenery in consideration of natural conditions as well as the cultural mark of human population in the landscape.
In the model territories of the municipal communities “Čertovo břemeno” (Jistebnice Highland, Region of Sedlec-Prčice), Moravian Karst and Central Bohemian Uplands, data is collected on landscape values, landscape development, natural and social conditions and on the important sources of plant materials (autochthonous as well as allochthonous, ornamental as well as fruit woody species). Following the examples of implemented case studies, the main contribution of the project results consist of establishing a methodology considering a responsible and comprehensive management of planted greenery in the developed area of rural settlements. In addition, harmonization of various specialist positions (landscape specialist, gardening architect, historian, pomologist, and farmer) concerning issues of the greenery establishment is expected.
A selection of specific sources of plant material for further regeneration of the region its propagation and subsequent use for plantations in municipalities represents another contribution of the project. Within the project, a model rural greenery plantation will also be established, becoming part of the exposition in the Dendrological Garden in Průhonice. In addition, planting and greenery management will also be under methodological surveillance in the model areas.
This research area deals with the study of plants deliberately planted in human settlements but also growing in their original habitats. The emphasis is on taxonomy and nomenclature as well as on the study of their ecological, growth and composition properties. For a quite some time, the main focus has been on the representatives of the following families: Pinaceae L. and Rosaceae L. The study is mainly focused on the genus of Pinus L. and Sorbus L. Attention is also paid to classification of plants and their correct names. A subsequent evaluation of the ecological, growth, and composition properties is carried out using a monitoring of natural populations as well as trial growth. The information obtained is used to establish an adequate selection of species or plant varieties for the usage in gardening and landscaping works.
Since 2007, the study has mainly been focused on the plantations of perennial plants with a higher degree of self-regulation and extensive maintenance. The objective of the work is the verification of current technology to establish such plant beds, to test the largest possible selection of plants, their mutual combinations and the development of plant beds over the period of several years. Since 2008, the requirements for maintenance of plant beds and their visual effect have also been assessed. The results of the plant bed assessment over several localities in the Czech Republic have helped to develop recommendations for development and management of new plantations. Trial areas of such plant beds established in the Dendrological Garden are unique in the Czech Republic in regard to their total area and extensive selection of plants. A presentation of results has significantly contributed to the use of these types of plantations in towns throughout the Czech Republic.
The Dendrological Garden collections represent an important part of the study. Plants can be studied here ex situ (out of their original habitats) while their mutual comparison within the same habitat condition is possible. Apart from a number of foreign plants, the garden hosts a unique and absolutely comprehensive collection of plants of the genus Sorbus L., which is native in the Czech Republic. This collection has also recently been increased by other autochthonous (native to the Czech Republic) representatives of dendroflora.
In addition, for a long period of time, attention has been paid to keeping records on memorable trees and contributing data to the database of the Digital Register of the Nature Conservation of the Czech Republic. In the Institutee’s Dendrological Garden, a gene bank of memorable trees was established to propagate and grow selected valuable individuals. For a number of individuals, in regard to their age, we can assume that they are a relic of the original population or of the populations impacted by human activities to a limited extent.
The above described method of work uses principles of classic botany and experience of growing to design adequate species composition of the plantations within the projects of gardening and landscaping works.