Hungary's largest intact forest threatened by construction | WWF

Hungary's largest intact forest threatened by construction

Posted on
03 October 2018
Budapest - Csarna Valley, Hungary's largest intact forest and biodiversity area and aproposed core zone of the Danube-Ipoly National Park, is threatened by new railway construction. Recent government plans envisage developing railways for tourism through the area which will impact the habitat of rare species and wildlife. The valley is home to black storks, eastern imperial eagles, Ural owls, white-backed woodpeckers, as well as stone crayfish living in the streams, and the Eurasian lynx, all of which are strictly protected species in Europe.

The site is significant as it is the largest unmanaged forest of Hungary with an intact forest area of 1000 hectares where human interaction is minimal. The former industrial railway in the area was abandoned more than 40 years ago.

“The government intends to invest in these railway lines and one plan is to rebuild the old railway line running through the Csarna Valley. There are 5 existing railway lines in the surroundings, so tourism is already supported by these kind of facilities. The valley is available to eco-tourism, but not to mass tourism. Developing the few kilometer long railway line running into the valley would not contribute significantly to the value of tourism, nor to the economy of the region, but would significantly harm the habitat. Csarna Valley is also important on a national level as a proposed core zone of Danube-Ipoly National Park. Any destructive development would compromise the concept of zoning systems in national parks, which are important for conservation, and still not gazetted officially in Hungary”, said Laszlo Galhidy, Forest Protection Program Manager at WWF-Hungary.

"The construction of the new, tourism-related railway line may cause significant natural damage, threatening the wildlife of the most valuable valley of the Danube-Ipoly National Park. WWF-Hungary’s opinion is that in terms of nature conservation, neither the planned railway construction nor planned logging in Csarna Valley is sustainable", Galhidy added.

WWF has already run an emergency campaign in 2012, when the state-owned forest manager organization initiated a process to gain permission to harvest wood. The campaign succeeded and the request for permission was denied and the valley remained untouched – until now. WWF is calling for the cancellation of all plans jeopardizing the exceptional natural values of Csarna valley, and for permanent protection in current and future management plans for the area”.  
About Csarna Valley
Csarna Valley is an intact forest area of 1,000 hectares located in the North of Hungary, part of Borzsony in the Carpathian Mountains. The site is significant as it is one of the largest unmanaged forests of the country, where human interaction has been minimized (only tourism allowed, no roads exist) and no forest management has impacted the area for 40 years.
About the national park zoning system
The zoning system is a scheme of protected area management, internationally recommended for national parks by IUCN, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, widely accepted and applied all over the world. Usually core, sustainable use and development zones are created in protected areas, based on scientific and socio-economic recommendations. Core zones usually forbit uses such as mining or wood harvesting, but controlled tourism is possible. In Hungary, there is a clear prescription in the Conservation Law regarding the use of zoning in national parks since 1996. Detailed framework legislation on management principles of zones came into effect in 2013, but delineation of zones has still not taken place.
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