European Wilderness SocietyWilderness Policy

Constitutional court decided in favour of Hungary’s protected areas

Although the European Commission’s Wilderness register from 2013 does not include one single Wilderness area from Hungary, there is a great potential of redtoring Wilderness attributes in the country. Aggtelek National Park and parts of Bükk and Duna-Ipoly National Parks, all three situated in the Carpathian part of the country have a potential of non-intervention management.

Therefore the European Wilderness Society welcomes the recent decision of the Hungarian Constitutional Court, which is in favor of securing the land management rights with the national park authorities. The court decided against the law, which envisaged that 300,000 hectares of state-owned valuable natural area be managed by the so called National Land trust whose focus is clearly not nature conservation, but state property policy. According to local NGOs in Hungary, such a move would have weakened the national park directorates and would have resulted in some short-term income from sales only.

Hungary’s President, János Áder, who is said to be sensitive towards environmental issues and currently leads a campaign in Hungary to influence the Climate Conference in Paris in December 2015, put a veto on it and asked the constitutional court to consider.

According to the final decision of the Constitutional Court, the law was found to be unconstitutional and it cannot come into force. It can be rewritten by Parliament again, but a two-third majority would be needed to vote it, which – under the current political circumstances – would be difficult to form.

“This is a big win for Hungary and nature. In the past few months, the coalition of WWF, Birdlife and Friends of the Earth Hungary had to work hard with public support to save the nature conservation system of our country. Now we have to develop a forward-looking strategy for its future,” said Katalin Sipos, director of WWF Hungary in a recent press release on WWF’s website

The European Wilderness Society congratulates the Hungarian NGO coalition for this success! We hope that soon our team will be called to help the country to designate Wilderness areas within its territory.

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