A new wetlands national park in Slovakia?
Podunajsko National Park
The new Podunajsko National Park would be the tenth national park in the Slovak Republic the territory. At the same time, it would be the only Slovak park located in the lowlands.
Recently, a group of members of the National Council of the Slovak Republic came up with the initiative to create a legislative framework for the establishment of the Podunajsko National Park.
The temporarily appointed Minister of the Environment supports this initiative. In this context, he has entrusted the Slovak State Nature Conservancy with the development of the project and professional documentation of the new national park on the Danube. A group of deputies want to present the proposal to the government for discussion later this year.
History of the Podunajsko National Park
Conservationists have been trying to create the Danube National Park since 1986. Already in the first proposal, which they sent to the the government a year later, they stated the need for a large-scale protection of the unique Danube landscape. Over the past thirty years, the character and essence of the country has changed. Its appearance was affected by deforestation and especially by the construction of the Gabčíkovo waterworks.
A unique project
According to the current proposal, the Podunajsko National Park would cover an area of approximately 18,000 hectares. It would extend from Vysoka na Morave to the Dunajské luhy
Some parts of the territory already have a certain status of protection in the form of a Protected Landscape Area. The establishment of the national park would mean improving the management of this area and improving the state of the biotope.
The park will be beneficial from the point of view of protecting the unique natural wealth of floodplain forests, but also for the protection of water resources. It will also bring forward the development of sustainable tourism.
First lowland park
Slovakia has several mountain national parks. The Danube region, which is protected as a national park by both nearby countries Austria and Hungary, is not yet noticed by Slovakia. At the same time, the inland delta is unique. This territory deserves to be a national park, which would be the only one in Slovakia of the lowland type.
Slovakia has several mountain national parks, but none in the Danube Lowlands. Neighbor states such as Hungary and Austria have been protecting specific parts of the Danube River and its immediate surroundings already for several years. In Austria it is the Donau-Auen National Park, in Hungary Fertő–Hanság Nemzeti Park and the Duna-Ipoly Nemzeti Park.
In the Slovakian territory, there are local protected areas such as the Dunajské Luhy Protected Landscape Area or parts of the Dunajské Luhy Protected Bird Area.
Funding will not be easy
Despite the fact that the project will be largely financed by European funds, the costs of managing the future national park may reach approximately 580,000 euros between the years 2024 and 2026. The plan is that a national park should be declared primarily on state lands. That represents more than half of the proposed area. Cooperation and agreement with land owners and particularly with non-state owners will be very important for the Ministry.
According to the proponents of the parliamentary proposal, the proximity of Bratislava and the future national park will increase attractiveness of the whole area for tourist and for recreational use. The Podunajsko National Park could also play the role of a gateway and a promotion of other national parks as well.
Not all important people in this process are so enthusiastic and positive. They warn that the first big challenge will be the development of the proposal and its approval by the relevant entities. Implementing all necessary steps will be even more difficult. For example, in the other already existing nine national parks in Slovakia, the development and approval of zoning took decades after their declaration. In this newly planned national park, the minister declared that the zoning must be done in advance.
Likely it will be a slow and lengthy process. Although it should be emphasized that in the recent couple years this process has been gaining significant momentum. But even today, most Slovak national parks do not have a modern zoning system.
The proposal for a new park must pass through the deputies and the government. This will most likely be the easy part of the process. The real problems will be the property conditions but also the payment of compensation to the owners. Besides that, also extensive poplar plantations, invasive species and the Gabčíkovo dam.
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