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Together we saved Csarna Valley!

Posted on December, 10 2018

Campaign a milestone in nature conservation in Hungary
The largest conservation campaign recently saved the Csarna Valley – an untouched forest area of 1000 hectares in Hungary. A plan to develop tourist railways in the valley would have dramatically affected the valley’s ecosystems. WWF Hungary together with more than 70 000 supporters succeeded in preserving the valley and its natural ecosystems for future generations. The campaign is unprecedented in terms of both the number of supporters involved but also the support of the political representation.

„We proudly share the success of saving Csarna Valley as one of the largest untouched forests in our country with all of the tens of thousands of people who supported this successful and unprecedented campaign,” said Katalin Sipos, Country Director of WWF Hungary.

Csarna Valley, located in northern Hungary in the Carpathian Mountains, is one of the last untouched forests in the country. There have been no forestry operations for the past 40 years, and only small-scale tourism is allowed in the area. The biodiversity is high with rare species including the Eurasian lynx, black stork, the eastern imperial eagle, Ural owl, white-backed woodpecker or stone crayfish.

The Hungarian government recently introduced a regional development plan that included the development of a railway line through Csarna Valley. There are already multiple railway lines serving tourism in the surrounding Börzsöny Mountains. One of them is ending at the “entrance” of the valley, and walking is allowed in the deep forest. The valley is available to eco-tourism, but not to mass tourism. Developing the few km long railway running into the valley would not contribute significantly neither to the value of tourism, nor to the economy of the region, but would significantly harm the habitat.

After the forest manager Ipoly-Erdő State Forest Company submitted the request for environmental permission for the development this autumn, WWF Hungary launched a campaign to stop the plans and save the strictly protected area. In 10 days’ time more than 70 000 people signed the online petition. As a result of this protest action, István Nagy, the Minister of Agriculture publicly announced that he is against the investment planned and ordered the manager to withdraw the request for permission.  Furthermore, he ordered management of the valley to be immediately handed over to the competent Duna-Ipoly National Park directorate. Soon after, the State Forestry Company withdrew its request for development of the railway line and the process for environmental permission was officially closed last week.

“Csarna Valley is a fine example of an unmanaged, wild area and how a forest can prosper in free development without human disturbance,” said Katalin Sipos. “The next step for us is to establish a zoning system that designates core zones in all our national parks, where nature can reproduce unhindered by human intervention. This milestone is inspiring for us and the whole green movement in Hungary,” Sipos concluded.
Csarna-valley, the largest intact forest in Hungary.
Csarna-valley, the largest intact forest in Hungary.
© Laszlo Galhidy / WWF Hungary