Border crossing to remain in Sumava despite Schengen

National Park Sumava

In just a few weeks the Czech Republic will lift its border controls as the country joins the Schengen area. However, that doesn’t mean Czechs will be allowed to cross the borders wherever they want to. Sumava National Park, stretching along the German and Austrian borders, has decided to exclude part of the German frontier from the border-free zone. Regional politicians and tourists are very much against the idea, arguing that the former Iron Curtain is now being transformed into a new “green curtain”. R.F. talked to Radovan Holub, the National Park’s spokesman, and started by asking about the reasons behind the decision:

National Park Sumava
“The National park consists of so-called core zone and so-called second zone. And here in the second there will be a free movement of tourists. The tourists will be able to go from Germany to the Czech Republic wherever they want, on whichever place. But in the core zone the movement between both parks is restricted, because of nature protection. You are able to move only on marked paths and there are only a few of them in these areas and practically none of them goes through the border.”

Do they have such strict restrictions in the German part of the national park, in the Bavarian forest?

“Basically they do. The core zone is accessible only on trails. But these trails are much denser than in the Czech Republic, in the National Park Sumava, and you are even able to move on the non-marked trails. And this is the basic and most important difference between National Park Bavarian Forest and between National Park Sumava.”

National Park Sumava
This is also one of the arguments of some of the Czech regional leaders who are against your plans to exclude this area from the border-free zone. They say that in the past there also used to be a dense network in the Czech part and they expect them to be re-established.

“It is a question if we should build up again all the villages with all the inhabitants that used to be here before World War II. As you know, after the year 1948, everybody had to go and the villages were abolished and ruined. I doubt that it would be reasonable to put up all the villages which were here before with all the trails and with all the roads which existed before. But I think that some reasonable movement between both parks should be made. We try to prepare some rules for such movement for the foreseeable future.”