Šumava activists stay put as park warns of fines and damages

Photo: CTK

Environmental activists are into their fifth day blocking loggers’ access to planned cutting in the Šumava National Park. While there has been no altercation as yet between the environmentalists from Hnutí Duha and the park management, the latter is firm on cutting right now to stem the local bark beetle infestation. The director of the park says that for every tree it cuts it may be saving eight others, and that another 30,000 trees are otherwise in danger. As far as the environmentalists are concerned though, the management has no permit to cut in the primary protected zone, where they have positioned themselves, and are in direct breach of the law. As police and the environmental inspection investigate who is in the right, the number of protesters in the forest is swelling, as I was told by Mojmír Vlašín of Hnutí Duha, one of the half-dozen activists who started the protest last Friday.

Photo: CTK
“Today there are 37 of us here, protesting against the illegal cutting in the Ptačí potok area of the Šumava National Park.”

And what does the protest actually consist of, are you just blocking access to the trees?

“Actually, from the beginning of our protest no loggers or other people have come to this part of the Šumava, so we are just sitting, watching and controlling this part. But we expect that the part headquarters will send some people to cut very soon.”

The authorities now say that you could each, individually, be fined 50,000 crowns, have you heard that?

“I heard something like that, but it’s complete nonsense. We are here on a legal basis, this is a zone where it is possible for visitors to come in, but the park on the other hand is cutting trees on an illegal basis. We have sent a complaint to the environmental inspection and we expect them to stop the cutting in this zone, because it really is illegal.”

Jan Stráský,  photo: CTK
The park director, Jan Stráský, says that the latest aerial views of the Šumava shows that the spruce trees could actually be wiped out from the West Bohemian part of the park in the next three years if they don’t continue cutting now…

“That’s complete nonsense. The bark beetle and the Norwegian Spruce are two organisms that lave lived together for thousands and hundreds and thousands of years without human influence. The problem is not between the Norway Spruce and the bark beetle, it’s a problem between man and nature. If the national park management starts massive cutting, they can destroy the whole park in three years, not the bark beetle.”

What do you see as their motivation then behind logging?

“There are two motivations. One is money – the money inside the trunks of the trees. That’s the first. And the second is that for many of the foresters in the national park management, to their minds the bark beetle is an enemy, the biggest enemy, and they want to fight it. This is the foresters’ approach to nature, to fight. But we can’t fight in a national park. We are here to see the drama of nature, the amazing drama. Just now I am in the middle of the forest and half of the trees around me are dead, but it’s fantastic, it’s something that everyone can see, and know how nature works inside the forest.”

Photo: CTK
How long do you intend to stay there and under what conditions will you leave?

“As long as possible. We are pretty sure that the principle of a national park is to let nature be, at least in the first, core zone. And this is our approach and the reason why we are here.”