World Heritage beech forests in Slovakia still not sufficiently protected
Continuing inappropriate management, extensive logging and hunting in the Slovak forest threaten the whole UNESCO site, which also includes areas in the Ukraine and Germany, according to the audit. Protecting the Poloniny National Park in Slovakia along with other Central and Eastern European forests has been an ongoing struggle for UNESCO and the WWF.
After strong criticism from the UNESCO World Heritage Committee at its annual meeting in 2017, in February 2018 the Slovak government submitted a report with improvements and protection measures to preserve the site.
“The report is too general, unsatisfying and inadequate to respond to the challenges and threats indicated in the UNESCO World Heritage Committee’s decision. It does not ensure effective conservation of the primeval forests. The government should develop alternative ways of control, monitoring and protection of the Poloniny National Park’s territory, and also analyze the needs of legislative and governance changes at local level,” said Miroslava Plassmann, Director of WWF-DCP Slovakia.
In July 2017, WWF called on the Slovak government to take urgent steps to define the borders of the Poloniny National Park territory and buffer zone, and to guarantee protection against logging and wildlife hunting through an integrated management plan which supports sustainable tourism in benefit of local communities and nature.
WWF is deeply concerned about the fate of forests in Central and Eastern Europe that are protected as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Last week, the Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union issued an opinion in which he confirmed that increased logging in the Białowieża Forest is unlawful. However, the Polish government continues to promote large-scale logging in the ancient forest. In Bulgaria, the government allowed construction in up to 48 per cent of Pirin National Park, a World Heritage site with centuries-old pine forests, home to bears, chamois and wolves.