The Preserved area of Žofín is in the highest possible protection category - National Preserve. It is situated in the middle part of the Novohradské Mountains.
The Primeval Forest Žofín, along with the Primeval Forest Hojná Voda nearby, are the oldest reservations in Middle Europe. The protection of both areas was ordered by the owner of the shire of Nové Hrady, Count Jiří František August Buquoy on the 28th of August 1838.
The original reservation probably only consisted of the northern part of the present reservation. It had an area of 40 ha, which later increased due to the addition of surrounding areas to the reservation. It presently has an area of 102 ha.
The protected area is situated on the northern slopes of the Stříbrný Vrch (Silver Mountain) 735 - 825 m above sea level. There are several streams which collect water from this area and divide it into different sections. In its geological base there is mainly granodiorite of the weinsberg type.
The forest provides ideal examples of flora of the mountain heights. The continuous development of the forest from the 18th and 19th century up to the present is obvious in the major part of the forest. The main trees are beech trees (81%), spruces (14%), and firs (4%), and occasionally it is possible to find a maple or an elm tree. The oldest trees are the giant spruces and firs. They are 300 - 400 years old and 40 - 50 m high. In the major part of the forest the new following generation is ensured by beech trees 10 - 40 years old. Of the smaller plants we can name toothwort Dentaria enneaphyllos, toothwort Dentaria bulbifera, dog's mercury (Mercurialis perennis), oak fern (Gymnocarpium dryopteris), wood sanicle (Sanicula europaea), comfrey Symphytum tuberosum, and others. In some parts we may also find watercress Cardamine trifolia. It is one of the plant species which have their origin in the Alps.
In the damp areas along streams and surrounding springs, where firs grow, we can find plants like gravel bind (Soldanella montana), wood rush (Luzula sylvatica), and wood reed (Calamagrostis villosa). On one of the large peat bog areas, in the middle of the forest, there are dwarf firs growing, which is quite unusual at the complex of a slope mixed forest.
On the frequent slope spring areas there grows chervil (Chaerophyllum hirsutum), golden saxifrage (Chrysosplenium alternifolium), speedwell (Veronica montana), and sedge (Carex remota). The meadow grass Poa remota is phytogeographically important.
The Primeval Forest Žofín is also an important biotope for bird species living in the mixed mountain forests. The bird species are quite typical for the area, and are compatibile to those living in other similar areas (Primeval Forest Boubín, Zátoňská Hora, Stožec, and others). Between 1989 and 1990 there were 44 bird species detected, 35 - 40 of them were regularly nesting here. The most important are Black Stork (Ciconia nigra), Three-toed Woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus), Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus), Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva), Eurasian Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium passerinum), and Black Woodpecker (Dryocopus martius).
In 1997 research was carried out about epigeic beetles (beetles living on the surface or in upper layers of the soil, on rotted wood, on ground vegetation, and underground mushrooms). In total 163 species of beetles were detected. A major part of them, by their presence alone, indicate the age and relative purity of the forest. The most important are ground beetle (Pterostichus pumilio), longhorn beetle (Saphanus piceus), rove beetle (Proteinus ovalis), rove beetle (Atrecus pilicornis), stag beetle (Ceruchus chrysomelinus), and others.
The Primeval Forest Žofín has been fenced against deer from 1991. It is not accessible to the general public so as to maintain its natural purity and important ecosystems. Permission to enter is granted occasionally to specialists for the purpouse of scientific research and to specialists in forest and the natural sciences.
Further information :
Description of Natural Conditions in the Český Krumlov Region