Hajská Pools Educational Trail
The protected area spans a little less than seven hectares, near a settlement known as Hajská, about 2 km to the east of the Strakonice train station. Lying slightly below the surrounding terrain, the site has a very rugged topography, owed to both medieval gold-panning and, in later times, the local production of fine gravel. Dozens of pools formed in the depressions created by this activity, and the entire area is gradually being taken over by spontaneous overgrowth. Also, over the past two decades, conservationists have added man-made pools.
The driving force behind declaring the area a natural monument in 1985 was to afford protection for the rich stands of featherfoil, an endangered plant species, in the water pools across the alluvial plain of the Otava River, and for numerous species of amphibians. The protected area is literally an island unto itself, surrounded by land under cultivation, and represents a unique biotope within the intensively farmed river plain that owes its survival to its very limited usability for agricultural purposes. No matter that these are replacement communities of species in an artificially created habitat: this type of biotope is for many species one of the last holdouts in the larger region where they may thrive.
The educational trail, which leads right into the heart of this green oasis, was built in 2019 by Onyx, the local chapter of the Czech Union for Nature Conservation, in a joint effort involving the South Bohemian regional government, the city of Strakonice, and funding from NET4GAS's Closer to Nature programme. Over a distance of about half a kilometre, five info panels along the trail provide insight into interesting aspects of the site.