Wilderness Policy

Success in protecting a UNESCO World Heritage Beech Forest

Several days ago, Slovakian Ministry of Environment agreed to create one of the largest nature reserves in the country, called the Vihorlat Forest. This reserve is located in the eastern part of Slovakia. It is a part of the boundary modification process of the Slovak components of the UNESCO World Heritage site. The result of this process was that the Slovak components of the UNESCO World Heritage site were impacted in the previous years and renomination was a result of demanding negotiation between UNESCO and Slovak government.

Please also read: Forest Disaster In Slovakia

The role of the European Wilderness Society

This achievement is very much result of massive petition that a Slovakian NGO Wolf organised in the previous months. The European Wilderness Society also supported this petition but further on also sent a position paper to the UNESCO and Slovakian government and also widely shared information about this process on European Wilderness Society website

The power of the public

This massive petition was extraordinary for Slovakia. It reached the highest number of signatures when 68 130 people expressed a strong interest. They wanted to maintain the strict protection not only for the beech forest but particularly also for Morské Oko Lake. The wide public support turned to be a critically important element in the demanding negotiations between the NGO and the Ministry of the Environment.

Large new reserve

As a result, 1574 ha of the Nature reserve Vihorlat Forest (2 161 hectares) will be strictly protected. The important part of this decision is that the highest protection regime will also include Morské Oko Lake and surroundings. The area of the lake was not part of the original proposal at the beginning of the UNESCO renomination process. People were concerned that Morské Oko Lake was excluded from the proposal due to an insincere economic ploy to open the area for development.

It seems that the positive result was possible also because of a new Minister at the Ministry of Environment. He took his position at the beginning of the March, after a new Slovakian government formed.

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