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Cultivate Partners Meet for the First Time, in Třeboň Basin, Czech Republic (March 2022)

By Silje Östman and Steve Taylor, March 2022

After nine months of regular Teams meetings, and heaven knows how many months of discussions on the project application, the CULTIVATE team was finally able to meet up in person.  Třeboň, bathed in lovely late winter sunshine, was a fitting location for the opportunity to develop the that personal contact so sorely missing from online meetings.


Meetings were held in the historical town centre of Třeboň, which has roots back to medieval times. The town of Třeboň is situated in the centre of the core area of the biosphere reserve, close to the Austrian border. All of the ancient buildings in the town centre are amazingly intact and in their original forms, including the town brewery which is one of the world's oldest - dating all the way back to 1379. In these picturesque and historical surroundings, we discussed how to conduct our stakeholder analysis across the four BRs, what stakeholder groups would be most representative for each BR, and how to ensure conformity in methodology across four very different contexts.

On the second day we were invited on a tour of the Třeboň Basin biosphere reserve, led by the manager Miroslav Hátle. One of the key features of basin is an extensive network of 460 man-made fishponds, dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries. Overlapping with Ramsar and Natura 2000 sites, according to UNESCO the reserve represents an “excellent example of a region where local economy uses the landscape and its natural resources in a sensitive and rational way” with a sophisticated system of ancient fishponds, rivers and canals that has been sympathetically maintained for over eight centuries. 

The tour started at one of the biggest Czech fishponds, the pond Svět, which lies just next to the town centre of Třeboň. Mr. Hátle shared his extensive knowledge of the area and spoke about the history of the fishponds, the canals connecting them, renaissance water architecture, and the history of the Czech fish industry. Along the edges of the ponds grow massive oak trees, some of which were likely 300-500 years old. These were planted because the roots of the trees help to stabilize the ground around the ponds.


An extensive system of cycling trails is representative of the importance of recreation and tourism to the area’s economy; their usage by nearly 50,000 people per month in summer, however, represents an approaching tipping point where visitor numbers become unsustainable and threaten the very reason that many people visit in the first place. Yet the fish farming, which to this day maintains a human capital-intensive form of extraction, provides enduring inspiration for the cultural narratives which personify the human-ecological relationships of the reserve.

The local organisers had invited representatives from a correlative regional initiative, funded through the LIFE programme and entitled One Nature (, to talk to the CULTIVATE team, speaking about their project to explore the conservation of biodiversity and the promotion of ecosystem services in the Czech Republic’s Natura 2000 network.  The ensuing discussion prompted a desire to cross-fertilise ideas and activities as the projects move forward.

The CULTIVATE team’s thoughts now turn to the forthcoming fieldwork in the four partnering biospheres, as well as a desire to maintain the face-to-face meetings to not only understand the opportunities and issues facing each biosphere, but also to conduce the effective dialogue that online meetings just cannot replicate.

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