Barbora Kukrechtová and Ondřej Pospíšil

Private Land Conservation Ambassador

Barbora Kukrechtová was a translator in Prague before falling in love with a nature conservationist and, coincidentally, a house lost in the middle of the Czech countryside. She met her partner, Ondřej Pospíšil, three years ago through the conservation group “JARO”.

Barbora Kukrechtová & Ondřej Pospíšil in an old orchard at the butterfly kingdom of Radiměř, Czech Republic. Copyright – Johana Drlíková
Barbora Kukrechtová & Ondřej Pospíšil in an old orchard at the butterfly kingdom of Radiměř, Czech Republic. Photo credit: Johana Drlíková

JARO is part of the ČSOP. Together with ČSOP Arion, it is the organisation which initiated the project “Radiměřské motýlí královstí” – The butterfly kingdom of Radiměř, located in the Svitavy region in the Czech Republic back in 2016.
It’s an area of 200.000 square metres, dedicated to nature conservation. And since 2020, the home of Barbora and Ondřej.

By conservational grazing and mowing, they protect this piece of paradise and its biodiversity.

Their secret incentive? Supporting habitats for butterflies. Barbora and Ondřej work hard to save the rare Large Blue, one of the rarest butterflies in Europe.

JARO is dedicated to nature conservation and is a part of the Czech Union for Nature Conservation (ČSOP). They take care of valuable natural areas in collaboration with landowners. JARO is active in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Austria.

“The butterfly kingdom of Radiměř” host dozens of species of day butterflies including the critically endangered large blue (Phengaris arion). Copyright: Jan Ježek

“The butterfly kingdom of Radiměř” hosts dozens of species of day butterflies including the critically endangered Large Blue (Phengaris arion). Photo credit: Jan Ježek

Marie Orban, ENPLC: “Thank you, Barbora, for being part of the ENPLC community. Can you tell us a bit more about how you protect the Large Blue (Phengaris arion) and the impact on land conservation?”

The conservation activities in Radiměřské motýlí královstí began in 2016. Ondřej and his colleagues discovered that the local population of the critically endangered Large Blue was slowly but surely disappearing. This butterfly was no longer present for a couple of seasons. So they decided to create “ČSOP Arion“, named after the Large Blue (Phengaris arion) and started to take care of this abandoned site, once home to this beautiful butterfly.

The Large Blue lays eggs on wild thyme and probably also oregano. Without extensive grazing and proper mowing, these plants stand no chance against grasses.

Thanks to our conservation efforts, we have at Radiměř several species of orchids and dozens of day butterfly species, including the critically endangered Large Blue (Phengaris arion). This specie is now plentifully found in the local landscape, although it has already become extinct in most of the Czech Republic.

At our site, we have about 50 species of day butterflies, including Spotted Fritillary (Melitaea didyma), the Pearl-bordered Fritillary (Boloria euphrosyne), and the Amanda’s Blue (Polyommatus amandus) or the critically endangered Common Viper which obviously isn’t an insect.

The Large Blue ranks among the fifteen most endangered butterflies at European level. Copyright- ČSOP Arion, Roman Kalous

The Large Blue ranks among the fifteen most endangered butterflies at the European level. Photo credit: ČSOP Arion, Roman Kalous

Marie: What can explain the biodiversity loss you are experiencing?

The disappearance of large herbivores – The pastures were abandoned and gradually overgrew with woody plants and aggressive grass species. Competitively weaker plants & biodiversity were slowly but surely suffocating.

Our main activity today is to cut, mow and graze. We started by using saws and brush cutters to revitalise the area, allowing nature to breathe again and recover from a diversity-loss period when no one cared about the local pastures and orchards.

To tackle the biodiversity loss of butterflies they need to mow the local meadows. Credit: ČSOP Arion

To tackle the biodiversity loss of butterflies, the local meadows must be mowed. Photo credit: ČSOP Arion

We have liberated a large area of old pastures and orchards from the scrub, thanks to enlightened owners. We have brought life back to these places and saved many rare and protected species from extinction.

Roman Kalous from the Czech Union of Nature Conservationists Arion
We’ve fought our way through a continuous wall of rosehips, hawthorn and other thorns.
Scrub before. Copyright: ČSOP Arion, Martina Vanžurová

Scrub before. Photo credit: ČSOP Arion, Martina Vanžurová

Scrub during. Copyright: ČSOP Arion

Scrub during. Photo credit: ČSOP Arion

Today, the hillsides of Radiměř are again covered with carpets of wildflowers and, on sunny days, dozens of species of butterflies.

After. Orchard with wild thyme Copyright: ČSOP Arion

After. Orchard with wild thyme. Photo credit: ČSOP Arion

We have horses, goats & sheep’s who are grazing freely Copyright: CSOP Arion, Roman Kalous

We have horses, goats & sheep who are grazing freely. Photo credit: CSOP Arion, Roman Kalous

This unique gem of nature needs gentle care. The ideal way to maintain the local meadows is by grazing. Specifically, low-intensity grazing by horses, goats and sheep. And as we live in the middle of the natural area, we can finally give the place the care it needs.

Gymnadenia conopsea, commonly known as the fragrant orchid, one of the orchid species at our site Copyright: CSOP Arion

Gymnadenia conopsea, commonly known as the fragrant orchid, is one of our site’s orchid species. Photo credit: ČSOP Arion

Radiměř Butterfly Kingdom is a valuable orchid site. During the restoration of the site, we found six species. Every year, we organise “Spring Orchid Walks”, which about 50 people attend on average.

Some of the other exciting plants here include the bird’s foot sedge (Carex ornithopoda), field cow-wheat (Melampyrum arvense), fire lily (Lilium bulbiferum), the cross-gentian (Gentiana cruciata), the juniper, European wild pear (Pyrus pyraster (syn. Pyrus communis subsp. pyraster)) or the common yew (Taxus baccata).

This nature conservation project has also a socio-economic vision.

All of that would not have been possible without the enthusiastic help of residents and volunteers.

Volunteers during summer camp Copyright: ČSOP Arion, Barbora Kukrechtová
Volunteers during summer camp Copyright: ČSOP Arion, Barbora Kukrechtová

Volunteers during summer camp. Photo credit: ČSOP Arion, Barbora Kukrechtová

Cutting the meadow is a never-ending job. We need a team of volunteers to maintain the meadows and preserve the butterflies.

The recruiting is done through online channels such as Facebook, CSOP and the ENPLC website, and a dedicated network: our friends, the local community, etc.

We also organise tours, excursions, and summer camps to inspire people.

We still have many more ideas and ambitions for the Butterfly Kingdom of Radiměř. We want to offer our visitors an accessible, peaceful and nurturing place. A nature trail across the site would be an outstanding achievement. We are also planning to build a guest house so people can stay on site a little longer.

People are always welcome to visit us and give a hand.

Horse grazing at the Butterfly Kingdom of Radiměř - Czech Republic

Horse grazing at the Butterfly Kingdom of Radiměř – Czech Republic. Photo credit: Roman Kalous

LIFE ENPLC Team

Content Creator

The news items collected on this blog have been written by project partners of the LIFE ENPLC project.

Jordi Pietx

Jordi Pietx is a biologist with an MSc in ecology and environmental sciences. He specialises in nature and landscape conservation and stewardship. He has also

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