The zoning of Šumava National Park

The zoning of the Šumava National Park is the essential method to properly manage 68,460 hectares of the Šumava National Park territory.

The zoning system is an important management and conservation tool. It combines several management objectives such as strict nature protection (non-intervention management) with responsible recreation, research, and sustainable development.

The purpose of zoning

The purpose of Šumava National Park zoning is multifaceted. Firstly, it aims to safeguard and preserve the park’s delicate ecosystems, wildlife, and natural processes by designating areas with varying degrees of protection. 

Secondly, identify areas with and without forest management. This approach created opportunity how step by step expand areas without forest management. Additionally, it fosters scientific research and educational opportunities. Lastly, by delineating zones for sustainable development and community involvement, it seeks to strike a balance between conservation and human needs, fostering harmony within these unique natural areas. 

The history of the Šumava NP zoning

The history of the zoning system in Šumava National Park dates back to the park establishment in 1991. Initially, the park had only two zones: a core zone for strict conservation and a buffer zone for limited human activities.  

As the park faced increasing visitor numbers and development pressures, the zoning was adapted by introducing recreational and development zones. This transformation aimed to strike a balance between preserving the park’s ecological diversity and accommodating the needs of tourism and local communities. 

The great challenges of current zoning development

Šumava National Park faces significant challenges in its current zoning development. These challenges can be shortly described as balancing conservation with traditional forest management and tourism demands. 

Managing the delicate ecosystems and biodiversity while accommodating increasing visitor numbers is a complex task. Climate change impacts and maintaining water quality in the park’s rivers further complicate zoning decisions. 

Additionally, the need for sustainable development zones to support local communities while preserving the park’s integrity is an ongoing challenge. Effective communication and collaboration between the park and stakeholders are vital for addressing these multifaceted challenges successfully.

Šumava National Park responds to this task by identifying a development zone. This zone includes built-up and developed areas of municipalities intended for their sustainable development and areas with prevailing ecosystems modified by humans intended for permanent utilisation by humans.

The core zone includes the most sensitive areas with minimal human intervention

Current zoning

Currently the Šumava National Park has a zoning system comprising four main zones.

The core zone is strictly protected and the main objective is the preservation of biodiversity linked to the spontaneous natural process. This zone protects the park’s most sensitive areas with minimal human intervention. 

The zone close to nature is defined as areas where ecosystems were partly altered by human activities in the past. The aim in this zone is to achieve a state corresponding to natural ecosystems.

The zone close to nature is defined as areas where ecosystems were partly altered by human activities in the past

The zone of concentrated care for nature is defined as areas where ecosystems significantly altered by man predominate. The main aim in this zone is to preserve or gradually improve the state of ecosystem which is important from the point of biological diversity. Also part of this zone has long-term objective to let natural dynamic process freely run. The ecosystems in this zone currently needs permanent activity of men, but in a long-term perspective also part of this zone will be left to run by spontaneous natural processes.

The cultural landscape zone is defined as areas used by local municipalities for their sustainable development.  The zone includes also the area where a man altered original ecosystems by historical or recent activities.

This comprehensive zoning scheme ensures the park’s ecological health while accommodating visitor’s and local people’s needs.

Wilderness potential in Šumava National Park

Zoning is an important management tool also to protect Wilderness. Zoning in Šumava National Park is an excellent example for illustrating this saying:

The Šumava National Park has remarkable wilderness potential despite of several centuries of intensive forest management and dramatic impact of natural disturbances such as the wind and bark beetle in recent decades. In the core zone and zone close to nature, the park offers opportunities to let nature self-restore areas impacted by natural disturbances. 

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