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Prokopské úcolí (Prokop Valley) Natural Reserve

Principal data Area between Jinonice and Zlíchov on either side of the Prokop valley incl. Dívčí Hrady. Cadastre: Jinonice, Hlubočepy. Area: 101.53 ha. Elevation: 220 - 330 m above sea level. Established by the Ordinance of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic No. 25 533/78 of December 28, 1978.

Reason of establishment, principal motive of protection Area of extraordinary value for natural sciences, one of the most important natural territories in Prague, comprizing a karst area with a number of significant geological profiles; fossil site, rich steppe and forest communities.

Geology, geomorphology, pedology The protected area has a number of natural and artificial exposures with the finds of fauna from the Uppermost Ordovician to the Middle Devonian. From their number mention should be made of the Kační quarry with the graptolite Monograptus flemmingi and a number of other Silurian fossils. The best exposures of Lower Devonian proceed from the lake to the railway cut below the Hlubočepy cemetery. The Dalej shales provided numerous acicular receptacles of tentaculites of Styloiolina and Nowakia families as well as the compressed receptacles of nautiloids and minor brachiopods, such as Dalejodiscus comitans. The limestones contain the goniatites of Anarcestes and Agoniatites families, the bivalves of Panenka, Kralovna and Sestra species, the overburden Middle Devonian Choteč limestones the goniatite Agoniatites occultus or the trilobite Phacops auspex. Specific ground relief forms due to geological structure, palaeokarst phenomena. Ravine erosion in kaolinitic detritus (Bílá rokle), a number of minor caves, finds of Quaternary fauna. Rich scale of soils from protorendzinas to brown rendzinas, brown earths and brown soils on shales, marginal relics of Cretaceous cover with the remainders of palaeosols. Marked meanders, loess banks.

Botany Northern slopes are covered with hornbeam and maple woods on the scree and the cow-wheat oak and hornbeam woods on brown earth, southern slopes are disrupted by numerous quarries and impaired by planted false acacia, Austrian pine and horse chestnut. In spite of that there are numerous natural enclaves with highly valuable communities of thermophilous grasses and rocky communities: the cowslip (Primula veris) and blue mountain grass (Sesleria albicans) communities on northwestern slopes of limestones and diabases, the hedge-mustard (Erysimus crepidifolium) and fescue (Festuca valesiaca) communities on rock tops, the Rhodax canus and Carex humilis communities on southern slopes, the Seseli osseum and Festuca pallens communities on the rocks and the communities of the yellow scabious (Scabiosa ochroleuca) and Brachypodium pinnatum in soil-filled rifts or shallow valleys. The rock and shrub margins host the communities of the bloody cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum) and the burning bush (Dictamnus albus). On rocky promontories of the Dalejský háj (Dalej Grove) there are fragments of a hairy oak wood. Heather on an intercalation of Silurian shales can be found as a specialty above the Hlubočepy cemetery. The southern slopes of the diabase ridge near Nová Ves host the community of the mountain alison (Aurinia montanum) and the cinquefoil (Potentilla arenaria). Three feather-grass species can be found here and there: Stipa pulcherrmima, Stipa ioannis and Stipa capillata.

Zoology A wealth of invertebrates, primarily thermophilous insects, described in detail in some volumes of the collection "Natura pragensis". Species of steppe character on rocky and loamy steppes and forestfree screes prevail. However, there are also important scree leaf-tree wood species. The number of beetles of steppe type includes e.g. Notiophilus rufipes, Ophomus tenebrosus centralis, Ophomus cordatus, Harpalus caspius roubali, Harpalus politus, Amara cremata from the ground beetles, Staphylinus ophthalmicus or Stenus ochropus from the rove beetles. The number of phytophagous steppe beetles includes e.g.Labidostomis humeralis, Labidostomis lucida, and Coptocephala quinquepunctata from the leaf beetles, Aphtona pygmaea, Aphtona herbigrada, Longitarsus nanus, Psylloides picina and Cassida pannonica from Phyllotreta family. The family of Urodontidae is represented by Urodon rufipes nigritarsis which was described for the first time on this very site. The snout beetles are represented e.g. by Apion austriacum and the steppe species of Otiorhynchus velutinus and Peritelus leucogrammus, the xerophilous family of Trachyphloeus e.g. byT. alternans, T. spinimanus, the terricolous Omias rotundatus, further Sciaphobus scitulus, Paophilus afflatus, Tychius schneideri, Baris laticollis, Mogulones austriacus, Ceutorhynchus rhenanus and Ceutorhynchus lukesi. The number of scree wood and thermophilous grove beetles includes e.g. Harpalus quadripunctatus and Abax ovalis from the ground beetles, Clytra appendicina, Cryptocephalus pusillus and Argopus ahrensi from the leaf beetles and Brachysomus echinatus and Barypeithes mollicomus from the snout beetles. The species of Acalles family testify to the continuity of the local woods. The species of Curcullio pellitus and Magdalis flavicornis are bound with oaks. With regard to the limestone base it is of extraordinary malacozoological importance that the area hosts the gastropod Chondrina avenacea, known in the Czech Republic only from the Bohemian Karst, as well as the neoendemite Bulgarica nitidosa whose 132 nearest relatives can be found only in South Rumania, and such relic species as Pupilla sterri. Also the forest malacofauna is well preserved in the area which is the only site of Isognomostoma isognomostomos in the territory of Prague. Among the butterflies Chazara briseis ranks among the most valuable. The area is a refuge of numerous vertebrate species, from amphibians to birds. It is a nesting site of some 60 species and further stop here during the passage. Most frequent nesting species are the passerines, such as the white and grey wagtails, the wren, the robin, in some years also the nightingale. The warblers and the goldcrest occur currently. There are about 20 mammal species among which minor rodents, such as the bank vole, are most frequent. The area is a classical site frequented by zoologists and botanists from the very beginning of modern natural science development.

Forestry The remainder of original groves and scree forests, until recently exploited as a shoot forest, has been preserved on northern slopes. Unfortunately, the trees subsequently planted on previously bare sites consist mostly of the false acacia and the Austrian pine. The trees recently planted on the northern edge of the valley are of the wood species of natural occurrence in Central Bohemia. Spontaneous forest renovation proceeds on numerous sites with intensive occurrence of the ash. In old quarries, such as U Jezírka, secondary scree forests originate with the prevalence of maples and ashes. Large areas are covered with xerothermal shrubs.

Economic exploitation, principal threats, proposed care of protected area Forest management conforms with the protection regime and  the structure of the newly planted trees is based on theenvisaged natural forest structure. Until recently the whole area was heavily impaired by limestone quarrying in older selective quarries which followed certain stratigraphic levels, thus giving rise to remarkable artificial ground relief forms, such as the canyon U Jezírka or the vertical rock walls near Vysoká and Útesy above Hlubočepy. This has resulted in a remarkable scenery which has impaired the initial rock formations, but exposed some significant geological structures. Facial changes of limestone strata were exposed by the Prokop Quarry. By the present operations have stopped in all quarries. The primeval Butovice stronghold on the limestone promontory of Bílé skály (White Rocks) merges fully with its natural surroundings. The protected area is traversed by two railway lines forming an integral part of the landscape image.

Notes In prehistoric times there were numerous settlements in the area. There was the above mentioned stronghold near Butovice and some caves were inhabited. The meagre remains of the castle on top of the Děvín are of medieval origin. Unfortunately the St. Procopius' pilgrimage church was demolished during the expansion of the former Prokop Quarry. The area comprizes also examples of the development of limestone extraction ranging from minor pits of former lime-burners over minor selective quarrying following selected strata to large-scale extraction in the Prokop Quarry which did not terminate until after the 2nd World War. It is desirable to preserve the forest-free mosaic and to support natural forest renovation in the Dalej Grove. Since time immemorial the Prokop Valley has been the target of numerous natural scientists of different branches of science, in the first place geologists and palaeontologists, but also botanists and zoologists and, naturally, of University excusions. Also J. Barrande used to work in the valley and its natural values of all types were demonstrated to numerous foreign visitors. At present the reserve, together with another small-size protected area higher upstream, forms part of the natural park called Prokop and Dalej Valley. The Prokop Valley has been described in numerous literary works ranging from scientific works to the works of fiction (J. Arbes). The whole area is one of the most thoroughly investigated natural areas in the Czech Republic and deserves a monograph.

Bibliography Chlupáč (1988), Kubíková (1977, 1985), Kubíková, Manych (1979), Kubíková et al. (1996), Ložek (1988).

Prokopské údolí video

The morphology of the Prokop Valley...
The morphology of the Prokop Valley was influenced heavily by quarrying which, however, exposed and accentuated the geological structure of the area.

The little lake...
The little lake in the Prokop Valley ranks among the most romantic nooks in Prague.

Bird's eye view
Bird's eye view of the little lake which originated by the flooding of an old quarry.

Sisiphus schaeferi
A beetle of Sisiphus schaeferi species rooling its ball in the Prokop Valley nature reserve.

Present day vegetation
Present day vegetation in the west part of the Prokop Valley. Geological profile of the western part of the Prokop Valley. 1-2 Ordovician shales and sandstones, 3 - Silurian submarine volcano, 4 - Silurian shales and limestones, 5, 6, 7, 9 - Devonian limestones, 8, 10 - Devonian shales.