Šumava National Park and Reserve, logo  Šumava National Park and Reserve


Administration of the area
Administration of the Šumava National Park and Reserve is a regular member of FNNPE and EUROPARC

Address :
Administration of the Šumava National Park and Reserve
Ing. František Urban, Manager of the Public Services Office
1. máje 260
385 01 Vimperk

 Šumava National Park and Nature Reserve, peat bog, foto: Lubor Mrázek
Telephone :

Fax :
+420 388 413 019


E - mail :

Branch office in the Český Krumlov Region :

Address :
Administration of Šumava National Park in Vimperk
Jiráskova 150
382 26 Horní Planá

The Šumava National Park and Reserve is situated at the southwest border of the Czech Republic with Germany and Austria. The National Park is located in three different regions - Český Krumlov, Prachatice, and Klatovy.

The National Park, along with the Preserved Area Šumava, form a biospherical reservation which has an area of about 167 000 ha. The National Park has an area of 69 030 ha, the Preserved Area lies on the remaining 97 970 ha. It surrounds the National Park from the north-west, north, and south, and therefore has the function of forming its protective zone.

Between 600 and 1378 m above sea level.

The area of this biospherical reservation is vast, and therefore several different types of climate occur here. The most common is the mild wet weather, depending on height above sea level, mainly at the valley of the river Vltava, and cold wet weather.

Šumava National Park and Nature Reserve, misty autumn day   Šumava - Lake Lipno in winter

The area gets heavy precipitation, mainly snow, which is often at the mountain heights (800 - 1600 millimetres a year). The average annual temperature is between 6,5 and 3,5 °C. The average temperature in July is between 12 and 15 °C. In winter there are often severe frosts.


 Šumava National Park and Nature Reserve, Bear path - formation named chapel (remains of the ice age), foto: Lubor Mrázek
Šumava is one of the oldest massifs in Europe, and is created mainly by rocks from the Primary and Palaeozoic age, such as granite (Prášily, Třístoličník, Knížecí stolec), ore (Boubín) and mica shist (Ostrý). A major part of the Šumava is created by the moldanubic massif. It was created in the Tertiary Alpine corrugation by the lifting and breaking the old massif. It is about 140 km long, afforested, with rounded terrain forms and plateaux (Pláně - Planes near Kvilda, Vydra, and Křemelná - about 1000 - 1100 m above sea level). From Pláně the mountain ridges split to the north-west and south-east. In the central part there are higher peaks and lower valleys of streams and rivers. One of the most important mountains is Plechý (the highest mountain of the Czech side of the Šumava - 1378 m above sea level), Třístoličník, Smrčina (1337 m), Knížecí Stolec (1225 m), Boubín (1361 m), or Špičák (1221 m). We can still see the remains of the glacial activity on the mountains, in the form of stone seas, or glacial lakes, which are the only ones in the Republic.

Šumava National Park and Nature Reserve, stone sea  (remains of the ice age), foto: Lubor Mrázek

The brown and light sand-and-clay soils are those most commonly found here.

Water conditions
Šumava creates the main European water-shed between the North and Black sea. It is characterised by its naturally high level of water accumulation - spring areas, peat bog sources, and sources of under-ground water. The quality of ground-level water is still very good (pH 5 - 7), which is proved by the existence of certain species found here, such as the fresh-water mussel.

Šumava National Park and Nature Reserve, Vydra River, foto: Lubor Mrázek

At Šumava there are many river springs. The major rivers in the area are the Vltava, Vydra and Křemelná, which create the river Otava at their confluence, then Volyňka, and Blanice. There are eight glacial lakes at about 1000 - 1100 m above sea level. On the Czech side of the Šumava they have an area of 42 ha, their names are Laka, Prášilské, Plešné, Černé, and Čertovo.

Šumava National Park and Nature Reserve, Laka Lake (remains of the ice age), foto: Lubor Mrázek


 Šumava National Park and Nature Reserve, junipers, foto: Lubor Mrázek
The major type of vegetation here is of the forest and wood type, which is influenced by the geological base, the landscape, and soils short of calcium. The mountain part of Šumava is typified by its beech and spruce vegetation, their spread depending on the height above sea level. The natural character of these species has been changed to some extent by the long term forest economy, and the so called height steps have artificially changed by the planting of spruce monocultures, or cutting down large areas of forests. This shows in the species still growing in this area, man-made or natural (like in Boubín, Smrčina, Stožec, etc.). We can find bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), all sorts of peat moss (Sphagnum), haircap moss Polytrichum commune, gravel bind (Soldanella montana) and many others.

Young researcher - hiker studies Šumava flora, foto: Lubor Mrázek

There are only a few flower species because of the region's consistency of geological structure and soil conditions, and also because of the predominance of forest vegetation. Šumava is a botanically heterogeneous area - there are large differences between its west and south-east region, which was more influenced by the Alpine species at the end of the ice-age. This explains the origin of gentian Gentiana panonica, lovage Mutellina purpurea (Mutellina purpurea) or arnica (Arnica montana).

Cotton-grass, foto: Lubor Mrázek   Vstavač (the riser), foto: Lubor Mrázek

Higher up the mountains we could find dwarf birch (Betula nana), grass Trichophorum caespitosum (Trichophorum caespitosum) or quillwort Isoetes Iacustris (Isoetes lacustris), which grow under water in the glacial lakes. At the peat bog sources there are both forests and lower pine vegetation.

The fauna living at Šumava has developed since the post-ice age,
 Migratory falcon, foto: Lubor Mrázek
and it is mainly of a forest character. Most of the species are still to be found here except for the large predators (bear, lynx, wolf, wild cat). Major changes in the specie spread were made at the time of greater colonisation of the Šumava by man, which was associated with the development of glass and later, wood industries (from the 10th century on, mainly in the period between the 14th and the 16th century). With the new landscape formations (meadows, fields, towns, communications, etc.) came the enrichment of the fauna by new species living in fields and meadows. An important part of the local fauna are the species otherwise appearing only in the north taiga and tundra, and in small isolated southern areas - at the mountains, peat bog sources, glacial lakes, or stone seas.

The upper streams of the Šumava are minimally polluted, and therefore one of the most important areas in the Czech Republic, where common otter (Lutra lutra) still survive. Another rare specie is the pearlshell Margaritifera margaritifera (Margaritifera margaritifera), which is considered critically endangered, as is the brook lamprey (Lampetra planeri), crayfish Astacus torrentious (Astacus torrentious), or noble crayfish (Astacus astacus).

The unique fauna of the invertebrate animals, which are connected with the peat bog sources, contains many precious relic species originating from the north, and this was the major reason for it to be entered into the Red book of endangered ecosystems. These species are the most important and interesting: ground beetle Carabus menetriesi (Carabus menetriesi), moorland clouded yellow (Colias palaeno ssp. europome), backswimmer Notonecta glauca (Notonecta reueri) and bog fritillary (Proclossiana eunomia).

Traditionally we can find forest species of gallinaceous birds at Šumava, for example Tetrao urogallus - a critically endangered specie, Tetrao tetrix, or Bonasa bonasia. Other important and rare bird species are kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), white-backed woodpecker (Dendrocopos leucotos), ring ouzel (Turdus torquatus), lesser spotted eagle (Aquila pomarina) and peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus).

Viper - black form, foto: Ladislav Pouzar

The precious small mammals are bat Myotis bechsteini (Myotis bechsteini), critically endangered bat Rhinolophus hipposideros (Rhinolophus hipposideros), shrew Sorex alpinus (Sorex alpinus), or nothern birch mouse (Sicista betulina), which is a representative of the Alpine fauna at Šumava. Often appearing are the eurasian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris), pine marten (Martes martes), eurasian badger (Meles meles) and wild boar (Sus scrofa).

From the group of large ungulata we could name red deer (Cervus elaphus), roe-deer (Capreolus capreolus). At present the moose (Alces alces) also appears here, its presence is the result of natural migration.

There is only one large predator left, the nothern lynx (Lynx lynx), which is the Europe's largest feline beast of prey. It was successfully reintroduced to the Šumava between 1982 and 1989, when 17 specimens were introduced (10 males and 7 females). In quite a short time the population of the lynxes stabilised and they started to spread into the Šumava surroundings (Blanský les, the Novohradské Mountains, surroundings of Netolice, etc.). At the end of the year 1995 the estimated number of lynxes was more than 70, which is the highest in the Czech Republic. Originally the lynx appeared at Šumava until the second half of the 19th century, when its population was obliterated by humans. Its comeback was made possible by the large afforested areas, a relatively low level of inhabitants, and a satisfactory food base created mainly by deer.

History of the area, inhabitants, monuments
Its position in the middle of Europe, at the cross-roads of the major routes in the main direction from north to south, established the connection of Šumava to the cultural world of Middle Europe. The original inhabitants were probably the Celts and they disappeared in the early A.D. years. There is no information about the following epoch until 1000 A.D., it is assumed this was the period when the Celts moved away. The next inhabitants of the area between 1000 and 1200 cultivated the grounds previously inhabited by the Celts. Up to the half of the 15th century all the area was covered with natural primeval forests, which were a part of the border forest. Even in former times there were historical paths and border crossings, along which the villages and towns sprang up. (Historical Routes in the Český Krumlov Region).

The Šumava forests began to be cut down, in the valleys the agricultural soil was cultivated, and in 1500 about a third of the area was inhabited, mainly in the north and north-east. At that time nearly all today's towns and villages were founded.

 Schwarzenberg navigational canal, tunnel entrance, foto: Lubor Mrázek
The newer colonisation during the 17th and 18th century had the basic importance of creating today's forest and non-forest ecosystems of the Šumava. It was connected with the glass and wood industry, and pastures for the domesticated animals. The mountains with primeval forests, which were kept as a protective zone of the state, began to lose their importance. All the originally continuous king's land was divided into smaller sections. At this time the areas of the primeval forests were scaled down drastically, new wood cutting villages were built and connected into new, until then non-existent residential areas. This was the origin of today's land structure - dispersed houses, small villages, valleys with cut down forests, and mainly the afforested slopes of the mountains. Until the second half of the 19th century, the forests were cut down constantly, and the land was changed into fields and pastures. This was also associated with the first indications of a mildly shattered ecosystem (artificial tree planting, mainly spruces, feeding animals on vast pastures, forest calamities in the 1870´s, and others).

Šumava National Park and Nature Reserve, Deer Lake - reservoir for Schwarzenberg navigational canal, foto: Lubor Mrázek

After the Second World War rapid changes took place in the traditional usage of the land. They concerned a complete stop to all activities at the border zone for nearly forty years, and were followed by a rapid decrease in the number of inhabitants. Due to political and economic concerns of the country, the Šumava became of little interest. Despite all that, the changes caused by humans at Šumava are not as radical as they seemed, and the land can be restored to its original appearance with an appropriate degree of care.

Šumava National Park and Nature Reserve, area of Zlatá studna (golden well), foto: Lubor Mrázek Šumava National Park and Nature Reserve, enclosure of former properties, foto: Lubor Mrázek

The character of the Šumava landscape is completed by several historical monuments, proofs of past inhabitancy, and the presence of man in the area :
canals previously used for transport of wood (Vchynicko - tetovský and the Schwarzenberg Navigational Canal)
historical ecclesiastical buildings, chapels, land stones, crosses, monuments, and others (St. Tomáš Church, the Stožec Chapel, the Vintíř Chapel, etc.)
documents concerning the historical allocation of the land (regulations of streams and rivers, stone walls to mark the borders of estates, trees along mountains routes, etc.)
mountain residential buildings (královácké courts, volarské houses) including localities of a open-air museum character ( the village Dobrá u Volar, and others)

The poetic beauty of the Šumava became an inspiration for the works of many painters, authors, and other artists. (Karel Klostermann, Adalbert Stifter).

Protection of the environment
Because of its position in the middle of Europe, and a relatively high level of non-pollution and water sources, the Šumava is often considered part of the "Green Roof of Europe" - an area of international importance. First attempts to create a national park at Šumava date from 1911. Further steps towards achieving that target were taken in 1946. In 1963 the Protected Area Šumava was established by the Ministry of Culture of the Czechoslovak Republic according to Law no. 40/1956. It had an area of 163 ha and was the largest protected area in the country at that time. In 1991 in Paris the biospherical reservation Šumava was declared with the patronage of UNESCO, which covered the whole of the protected area, thus proving its significance on an international scale. On the 20th of March 1991 the National Park Šumava was established by the government of the Czech Republic, as an area with the highest possible level of nature protection.

The National Park Šumava is divided into three basic zones, which are important to re-establish the ecological stability of the landscape :

1st zone has an area of 9004 ha, and represents 13 % of the Park area.
This strict natural zone contains the most precious, important and stable areas of the Park with natural ecosystems - remains of primeval forests, wet grounds, and peat bog sources. The areas of the 1st zone are left to their natural development without any interference by man.

2nd zone has an area of 56 856 ha, and represents 82 % of the Park area.
This directed natural zone contains the majority of the remaining forest and other ecosystems with different levels of condition and structure of the vegetation, from the original or changed, to the badly damaged and unsuitable. The target of all activities is to restore and maintain the natural balance, and to gradually change the present ecosystems to their original form.

3rd zone has an area of 3 200 ha, and takes 5 % of the Park area.
This edge zone contains areas, which have been highly affected by human activities, and the residential centres. The target is to support and keep this zone as a residential one, with services, agriculture, tourism, and recreation, if this does not go against the main target of the National Park.

The protective zone of the National Park
was not officially declared, its tasks are completed by the Protected Area Šumava, which is divided into four zones.

The total area of the National Park Šumava :

forest land55 600 ha81 % of the total area
meadows and pastures5 169 ha71 % of the total area
arable land756 ha1 % of the total area
streams and rivers583 ha1 % of the total area
remaining ground6 922 ha10 % of the total area

The number of residents in the area of the National Park Šumava up to the 3rd of March 1991: 2,492

International importance
the designation of a biospherical reservation and presence on the list of UNESCO
the Šumava peat bog sources written on the list of the Rams Convention concerning the protection of wet grounds of international importance
the Šumava peat bog sources written into the Red book of ecosystems by the International Union for Nature Protection (IUCN)
international protection of the nature in the area of Bavorský forest - Šumava, the title the Ecological Building Stone of Europe
Šumava/Böhmerwald is declared "European Landscape of Year 2000"

The area of the national Park Šumava contains most of the precious natural phenomena of the Šumava with the need for strict protection, like the glacial lakes, peat bog sources, or the remains of primeval mountain forests. At the same time its basic characteristic is the constant mixing of this untouched nature reserve with the traces of the many years presence of man, which gives this area its charm and magic. The wish to know a little more about history and nature, to live peacefully with the beautiful environment of the area of the National Park, that is the purpose of the lives of both the people living here and visitors to this area. The National Park Šumava is an area which brings its beauty, strength and "defenceless" to modern man, and enables him to recognise its laws.

Further information :
Lipno Dam
Černá v Pošumaví
Horní Planá
Vítkův hrádek
Map information system Šumava - Lipno area
Tourist Service in the Český Krumlov Region
Places of interest in the Český Krumlov Region
Description of Natural Conditions in the Český Krumlov Region


© Sdružení Oficiálního informačního systému Český Krumlov, 1999
Number of visitors this page since 13th November 1998 : TOPlist 0

Česká verzeDeutsche fassung