Sumava National Park in Danger?


The fate of the Czech Republic's Sumava National Park - one of central Europe's last remaining untouched nature reserves - is uncertain. Proposed legislation regarding ownership of the park is being discussed in the lower house and certain changes may make the park a target for development. What does the future hold for the Sumava National Park? Radio Prague's Nicole Klement reports.

The Sumava National Park, which stretches 125 km across south-western Bohemia, creates a natural boundary with Germany. The park, with its areas of old-growth and natural forests, occupies almost one percent of the total area of the Czech Republic. It has been a protected region since 1962 and was declared a national park in 1990.

But, some parts of the park are being re-claimed under restitution of property which followed the fall of Communism. The major forest area belongs to the state but with restitution, nearly 300 hectares of woodland have already been returned to private owners. This divides the land into private and public ownership. Rita Gabrielova, the spokeswoman for the Czech Ministry of the Environment explains....

"The whole landscape became part of the National Park. Now there is a sound process to give the land back to the villages but not to companies. We need to have this land remain state land, we need to protect the whole National Park. Not only some parts. We are trying to have a division between state land and land that belongs to the villages and that's it. "

Sumava | Photo: Barbora Němcová,  Radio Prague International
Last month, legislation which some say threatens the nature reserve passed through the second reading in the lower house. Mrs. Gabrielova says the ministry supports the legislation but certain aspects of the bill have to be changed. But why the need for change, what was wrong with the old legislation?

"The old legislation wasn't a law. It was only a declaration by the government that in the Sumava area of south Bohemia will be a National Park. But it was never a law. Now, in this first law about the National Park of Sumava we can make rules regarding landscape protection, for the residents, for the forest, all of which are in the National Park."

Though the Ministry of the Environment supports the legislation there are fears that unless measures are introduced soon, sections of the park will be targeted by land speculators and developers. But- the ministry does see hope and discussions have already proved fruitful.

"So I mentioned two problems that were in the way of the preparation of this law. But, there is a common agreement that the park will encompass the same areas that it does now. It will remain a big park."

Author: Nicole Klement
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