Mining sites often serve as refuges for endangered organisms. Sand mining activity creates mosaics of habitats from bare, nutrient-poor substrates to diverse wetlands and thus substitutes a function of unregulated rivers which formed sandy silts, creeks and ponds in the past. Such elements vanished from the intensively cultivated landscape together with the associated organisms. The critically endangered European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis) is one of the specialized organisms that suffered from the changes in the landscape. Transformation of pools and wetlands into fields and fertilized ponds have caused the extinction of the native populations of the turtle. Nowadays, there are few populations in the Czech Republic but they originate from non-indigenous lineages or their origin is unknown.
Our project aims at using the unique potential of the Hulín sand pit to develop a plan for a return of the native population of the turtle (from geographically original lineage) together with evidence based plan for biodiversity protection. Extraction of sand forms necessary habitats where the turtle can find suitable places for laying eggs as well as shelters with rich source of food. The pond turtle serves as an umbrella species. Moreover, as a flagship species, the turtle can bring attention of the general public to the role of sand pits in supporting biodiversity.