Czech ministry seeks consensus over Šumava

The Czech Environment Ministry is seeking to bang heads together over the format of Šumava National Park’ future management

Chris Johnstone 25.8.2011

Zasahování lidí do lesních ekosystémů v Národním parku Šumava skončí, až jejich vývoj bude odpovídat dynamice přírodního lesa s plně fungujícími spontánními autoregulačními procesy. foto: © ČESKÁ POZICE, montážČeská pozice

Zasahování lidí do lesních ekosystémů v Národním parku Šumava skončí, až jejich vývoj bude odpovídat dynamice přírodního lesa s plně fungujícími spontánními autoregulačními procesy.

The Czech Ministry of Environment has launched a bid to try and calm a dispute over how one of the country’s most important national parks should be managed following summer battles between environmentalists and police.

Pitched battles in Šumava National Park were sparked when park management called in loggers to cut trees at one of the park’s most prized areas, saying the measure was necessary to stop the ravages to trees of the bark beetle.  

Environmentalists  argue that tree cutting in the area was illegal and broke promises that the zone would be left alone for nature — the natural decomposition of trees and activity of the bark beetle — to take its course.

The ministry on Wednesday night convened a round table of experts, heads of local and regional authorities and politicians to try and thrash out an agreed future course for the park, which extends down much of the southern part of Bohemia bordering Germany.

Environment Minister Tomáš Chalupa (Civic Democrats, ODS) put forward his ministry’s proposal for future management of the park to be divided into three clearly delimited zones.

The first zone would cover the most valuable nature conservation areas that would be fully protected against exploitation. The second zone would be split into two, with the first area benefitting from greater protection and earmarked for inclusion in the first zone and the second having less protection and not intended for transfer to the first zone. The third zone would be set aside for economic development, tourism, sports and recreation activities.

“The proposal clearly sets out how the individual zones should be managed and where tourists can and cannot be allowed,” the ministry said in a statement.

But some environmental groups have given a cool first response to the proposal. Friends of the Earth Czech Republic  (Hnutí Duha) Jaromír Bláha told Czech Position that the ministry proposal seemed to count on the first zone covering 24% of the forest, short of previous suggestions that it should cover at least 30%. The environmental organization was at the forefront of the summer clashes.

‘Most international organizations in the area of national park development say that even 30% for the most protected zone is too low a proportion’

A spokesman for the local branch of Greenpeace said the extent and compactness of the fully protected zone was crucial for forests to evolve naturally and the battle against the bark beetle being waged through a greater variety of trees and flourishing natural environment rather than reliance of mass plantations of pines for logging. “Most international organizations in the area of national park development say that even 30% for the most protected zone is too low a proportion,” Greenpeace’s Michal Komárek said.

The ministry also put forward its idea a the three hour meeting that overall management of the national park be supervised by a new committee which would have to approve its management and investment plans. Minister Chalupa said such a move would help safeguard against radical swings in park management when a new director of Environment Minister came into office.

That is exactly what has happened in the Czech Republic over recent years with Green Party ministers and nominees being unseated and replaced by Civic Democrats with totally different policies on the environment.

A further round table meeting is planned by the ministry in mid-September.