Guest post: Saving Toads in the Czech Republic
We were so excited to receive this guest post and photography from Jan Knizek in the Czech Republic. Please read about the efforts of Krásná žába, o.s. [Beautiful Frog Association] to help preserve the breeding area of the European Green Toad.
WHO WE ARE
Krásná žába, o.s. [Beautiful Frog Association] is a non-profit organisation that was founded with the aim to save one of few rare areas in Prague, Czech Republic, where European Green Toads can still breed.
In 2010, we had discovered a dwindling but still surviving population of the toads at a future building site, in an area where the toads once proliferated. However, due to development projects like the one we are currently fighting to stop, their population has been continually displaced.
Discovering a small surviving population of these admirable animals, which had practically disappeared from here years ago, was a great and joyful surprise, and we are determined to do everything we can to save their last remaining breeding ground in the area, which is vital to the survival of the animals.
Stopping a development project involves a lot of effort. We need to convince local authorities that giving preference to the environment over a developer’s interest is vital in this case, last but not least because the European Green Toad is on the IUCN red list of endangered species and protected within the EU. Bringing about the destruction of the local population of toads by wrecking its breeding ground would be a crime.
WHAT HAVE WE DONE SO FAR
We have therefore filed an application to have the area listed as a place of significant environmental interest and supplied authorities with plenty of photos and documents to prove that the green toad population is indigenous (i.e. it has not been attracted to the area only after the building site had been set up), and that the development project is in breach of the law and needs to be stopped.
We are also in close cooperation with the Czech TV Channel (Česká televize) who have made a documentary on the issue and aired it on the national TV Channel 1.
We have also found support amongst local people who took part in a charity musical event we organised to help us fund our activities, since many of them do know the area very well and are interested in its preservation for a whole range of reasons, last but not least the toads.
Organisations supporting our activities include the Czech Union for Nature Conservation (ČSOP) who have also provided a little financial contribution to our association.
Once we achieve an official recognition of the site as a natural reserve, we are planning on maintaining it in a condition that would be ideal for breeding of the local European Green Toads who come here every spring to lay eggs in seasonal pools of rain water. Preventing access of traffic and any adverse intervention into the toad’s natural habitat is vital. Another important thing is further education of local people who absolutely should be aware of how precious an area they live in.
So far we’ve been addressed by a number of organisations who were curious to know more about what we do, including an environmentally-focused youth club interested in a lecture on this local issue.
We have encountered displeasure on the part of some local authorities and developers, but we have also encountered a lot of interest and support amongst local people who would feel badly betrayed if the local government preferred financial interests (i.e. the developers’) over public welfare, an indispensable part of which is protection of the environment and conservation of nature.
At the beginning, there was an unsightly building site and a development project in progress. Local people were unaware of any problem and authorities were reluctant to listen.
At the moment, there is still an unsightly building site, but a part of the development project has been suspended and another part of it reduced so that the toad’s breeding ground we are most concerned about would not be affected. Many locals know about the European Green Toad now, have educated themselves about the development project, and are in support of our activities. Authorities have started communicating with us and have actually shown the first spark of interest in supporting our cause.
In the future, we hope there will be a beautiful green area where local people can come on a warm spring evening to sit and listen to the melodic croak of this exceptionally beautiful toad, smell the flowers and trees, and enjoy a small oasis of nature in the middle of a bustling city – that is our mission.
You can find more information about the European Green Toad and our activities at our website.
And if you have any questions, you are of course welcome to contact us any time.