Site name and code: Góry Opawskie PLH160007
Site of Community importance since 2011
Area: 5 583,3 ha
Administrative location: Głubczyce county – municipality of Głubczyce; Nysa country – municipality of Głuchołazy; Prudnik country – municipalities of Lubrza, Prudnik.
The site includes the easternmost part of the Sudetes, falling in the depression of the Brama Morawska. The highest peak of this mountain range – Biskupia Kopa dominates the landscape, its elevation is 889 meters above sea level. Rocks form locally steep associations and cliffs, and massifs are cut by deep river valleys. In the south, the area borders on the Czech Republic and adjacent areas of the Natura 2000 network – Jeseniky and Zlate Hory – Cerne Jezero. Mainly forests cover the area of the refugium – primarily beech, spruce and old acid oak woods, and to a lesser extent, permanent grassland. The site plays an important role in tourism of the region. In recent years economic and tourist development of the area has clearly increased. Nature reserves: “Cicha Dolina”, “Las Bukowy”, Nad Białką”, “Olszak” are extremely valuable parts of the site. The area is a mosaic of forest and meadow habitats, it is also an important in the Sudetes habitat of the lesser horseshoe bat and the yellow-bellied toad.
3260 Water courses of plain to montane levels with the Ranunculion fluitantis and Callitricho-Batrachion vegetation
6430 Hydrophilous tall herb fringe communities of plains and of the montane to alpine levels
6510 Lowland hay meadows (Alopecurus pratensis, Sanguisorba officinalis)
7230 Alkaline fens
8220 Siliceous rocky slopes with chasmophytic vegetation
9110 Luzulo-Fagetum beech forests
9170 Galio-Carpinetum oak-hornbeam forests
9180 Tilio-Acerion forests of slopes, screes and ravines
9190 Old acidophilous oak woods with Quercus robur on sandy plains
91E0 Alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior (Alno-Padion, Alnion incanae, Salicion albae)
9410 Acidophilous Picea forests of the montane to alpine levels (Vaccinio-Piceetea)
A description of the subjects of protection within the site
In terms of the area forest habitats constitute most numerous communities in this Natura 2000 site. Acidophilous oak forests, mainly in the sub-montane acidophilous oak sub-type dominate among them. The second community in acidophilous oak forests is acidophilous thermophilous oak forest. The habitat is relatively well preserved and represents a sizable percentage of this community on Polish territory. Acidophilous beech forests occupy slightly smaller area of the site. They are mainly composed of the European beech with a small admixture of the European silver fir, spruce and sycamore. These forests are in relatively good shape, in some patches reaching the highest conservation status. In the lower parts of the site hornbeam stands prevail. During a fieldwork at the top of Biskupia Kopa new habitat has been inventoried – mountain spruce forests. The community consists of a stand of spruce with well-developed vertical structure and thick undergrowth, where there are many species typical of natural mountain spruce, e.g. hairy reed grass and heath bedstraw. Forest communities are home to many rare species of plants, including orchids: the common spotted orchid, lesser butterfly-orchid, greater butterfly-orchid, sword-leaved helleborine and critically endangered within the Opole region: early-purple orchid and elder-flowered orchid.
Threats that relate to forest habitats within the site are mainly: juvenalisation and the transformation of the age structure and species stands, disrupting the structure and species composition of undergrowth, insufficient quantity of dead wood, which results in a lack of habitats for saproxylic organisms, as well as the possibility of the habitat transformation by dehydration and humidity deficiency in the habitat.
The community of 8220 rock faces and slopes with Tilio-Acerion is an interesting habitat within the site. It is situated on the neutral siliceous and acid rocks with a high proportion of ferns and mosses. They can be found within the refugium in natural habitats around Jarnołtówek and Głuchołazy, as well as Pokrzywna on the rocks exposed during road construction. The main threat to this habitat is a succession of trees and shrubs, which can lead to shading, thereby deteriorating the state of the habitat.
Dicranum moss Dicranum viride is a new subject of protection within the site. Although the area occupied by this species of moss is small, identified habitat is certainly important to the national resources of the species.
Non-forest habitats are represented in the site by relatively small areas of lowland and mountain fresh meadows used extensively (Alopecurus pratensis, Sanguisorba officinalis). Patches of this habitat are located near Jarnołtówek. Currently, their condition is not the best, therefore they require protective measures. Identified threats are related primarily to the change or abandonment of agriculture (mainly grazing and mowing), and to the change of their purpose to other use.
The Opawa Mountains are also an important place of occurrence of animals (breeding and wintering colonies of lesser horseshoe bat). Bats wintering in mountain adits are primarily threatened by people, scaring them off or capturing deliberately. In summer, colonies of bats are vulnerable to deterioration of living conditions through illumination or closing the inlets to shelters (e.g. attics), or carrying out repairs in their reproductive periods. To ensure optimum protection of the lesser horseshoe bat and greater mouse-eared bat in this part of the Sudetes, identified species should be in the future included in the Natura 2000 site.
As part of the work on the conservation project an important site of yellow-bellied toad was inventoried. The species not common in the Sudetes, here occurs in fairly large clusters. It is threatened by the development of its existing habitats for purposes related to the aggregate deposits exploitation and housing estate.
Among many species of butterflies occurring in the area the scarce large blue (Phengaris teleius) and the dusky large blue (Phengaris nausithous) are of the greatest importance. Their occurrence depends on the presence of the host plant – great burnet and appropriate species of ants whose larva and eggs are feed for caterpillars of both species. Butterflies have found their habitat in the largest concentrations of fresh meadows around the reservoir in Jarnołtówek. Species depending on grassland may be threatened by the succession of trees and shrubs and invasive species – especially Japanese knotweed, due to the abandonment of agricultural activities (mowing, pastoralism).
…. Within the Natura 2000 Góry Opawskie site there is the highest peak of the Opole voivodeship – Biskupia Kopa (890 m.a.s.l.) It is also the highest peak of the Polish part of the Gór Opawskich
and the Czech-Polish border runs across its ridge.