Posted on 18 May 2016
This is a milestone for World Heritage protection in Hungary
The local councils of Szőlősardó and Teresztenye in Northern Hungary have stepped up efforts to protect the only natural UNESCO World Heritage site in Hungary from mining by declaring an area in its buffer zone legally protected. Thanks to the councils’ decision, the only purpose of the
108-hectare area near UNESCO’s Aggtelek Caves and Slovak Karst will now be to secure the protection of the UNESCO site by maintaining local ecological land use and farming traditions. However, threats could persist in potential mining projects in other locations in the buffer zone.
The decision comes only a month after WWF issued a report stating that nearly half of all natural World Heritage sites in the world are threatened by harmful industrial activities. Among the sites were the Aggtelek Caves and the Slovak Karst, due to the plans for mining. The success is also a result of the active collaboration of WWF-Hungary, local communities and authorities.
Buffer zones are important for maintaining the condition of a natural World Heritage site. The mine would have had a very negative impact on the environment and human health and possibly damaged the area’s main drinking water supply.
“This is a spark of hope for the region and illustrates that, if we join forces, we can help save our only natural World Heritage site from harmful activities. However, our concerns persist because there are still a few operating lignite and other coal mines in Northeastern Hungary, which are not far from the World Heritage site. These pose health and environmental risks to local communities. This is why WWF-Hungary will support all future efforts to protect the Aggtelek Caves”, said Csaba Vaszko, Climate Change and Energy Program leader of WWF-Hungary.