At the end of October 2018, the Ministry of the Environment of the Slovak Republic initiated a draft amendment to the Nature and Landscape Protection Act. The most important target of the new legislation is the stricter protection of national parks in Slovakia.
Several key points of the draft amendment still remain open and up for discussion, given the unfinished negotiations with various parties. However, it is visible that the amendment could bring about a significant improvement in the status of nature conservation in Slovakia. It brings forward better protection of protected areas regarding logging, stricter regulation concerning interventions in watercourses, as well as an increased attention to protect woody plants from removal.
The amendment plans to extend non-intervention management to at least half the territory of each national park. This creates the possibility to improve the protection of Wilderness and for several areas to join the European Wilderness Network. For the remaining national park areas, the amendment stipulates that forest management should aim to preserve and promote the ecological functions of forests. The draft amendment addresses another key measure for preserving the natural values of national parks – the transfer of state land in national parks from State forestry to the administration of the State Nature Conservation of the Slovak Republic.
Environmental organisations speak up
On 19th of April 2019, a controversial discussion took place at the Ministry of the Environment of the Slovak Republic on a collective remark of environmental organizations: The Institute for Nature Conservation, WWF Slovakia, BROZ, SOS / BirdLife, VIA IURIS and the MY LES initiative to the amendment, as VIA IURIS reports.
The proposals of the Ministry of Environment in the amendment are in many ways as a huge step forward. Nevertheless, we considered it extremely important to comment on and propose further solutions to the amendment to the Nature and Landscape Protection Act. We are pleased that, thanks to our joint effort, it will be stated in the law that nature protection and Wilderness conservation is in the public interest.
Amendment in practice
Nevertheless, it should also be noted that nature conservation in Slovakia currently only exists largely on paper. Whether this amendment, if approved and adopted, will prove to bring practical applications is still a question. Concerning factors are that in the current parliamentary term, only a few areas were declared as strictly protected. Moreover, the breach of obligations valid in the Slovak Republic concerning the protection of the Capercaillie is alarming in this regard.
Due to the unprecedented volume of logging in Slovakia, Wilderness areas are in great danger. Slovakian Wilderness needs urgent and strict actions. Let’s hope that the urgency to put the Amendment to the Nature and Landscape Protection Act into practice will also push the much needed legislative actions forward.