Slovak government fails to protect its World Heritage
Following criticism of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, Slovakia sent a report in February 2018 on its plans to resolve persistent problems in the Slovak part of the site caused by logging and hunting. WWF’s research found that the document does not specify the precise definition of the site in Slovakia. It also does not establish the responsibilities of the individual authorities for fulfilling the obligations in the field of adequate nature protection and does not provide a specific agenda for the proposed measures.
“Although Slovakia declares it will establish three nature reserves, the government has not yet submitted a proposal for any of them. Just one group of stakeholders has reached an agreement, but not in all sites”, said Miroslava Plassmann, Country Coordinator of WWF in Slovakia.
Another serious drawback is the management of the buffer zone, which at present does not help to protect the most precious core zone. In the Poloniny National Park, there is extensive logging near old growth forest sites. This results in the creation of a large area of young forests of the same age that no longer have the natural value of the woods before logging. Forest roads are also being built, often downhill, resulting in increased water outflow and degradation of soil quality. Most of the harvested wood from this massive logging in recent years is exported outside the region, thus reducing the availability for the local people.
At the same time, logging decreases opportunities for the development of sustainable tourism. Natural forests are located in the upper parts of the valleys, so in order to reach them tourists would first need to cross muddy forest roads.
“The key problem is that Slovakia does not implement an integrated management of the protected sites. The government should give a strong signal that protection of nature in national parks is a priority and not logging. A prerequisite for this is the management of forests in a sustainable way”, said Miroslava Cierna-Plassman.