Slovakia insufficiently protects UNESCO heritage

Topical issue

Slovakia insufficiently protects UNESCO heritage

13. 02. 2018 15:05

On Tuesday, the Supreme Audit Office presented its report warning about the flaws in the protection of the Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and other European regions in the eastern Slovakia. "Discrepancies in this location have been detected since the nomination project was submitted and the territory was declared a UNESCO world heritage site back in 2007," stated the Office. As it warned, the current situation and the allocated money do not guarantee long-term sustainability while meeting international commitments regarding this protected territory.

The Slovak government promised to adopt new measures to increase the level of protection of the primeval beech forests lying in the Slovak Republic.

However, the deficiencies in the protection of the Slovak part of this cross-border world heritage site were also pointed out by the Environment minister Laszlo Solymos at the beginning of 2018. Uncontrolled logging in this area could deprive this location of the right to use the prestigious UNESCO protection label.

The UNESCO committee issued its warning on 5th July 2017. Slovakia had 7 months to persuade the committee that it takes the protection of primeval beech forests seriously. However, the World Wide Fund for Nature last week stated that the country report, however, does not react to the UNESCO call to a sufficient extent and does not guarantee sufficient protection of these forests in its territory.

The biggest concern of the UNESCO committee as well as Slovak NGOs are a lack of borders marking out the territory. The state has not so far defined which areas should be under the special protection regime. Peter Szabo of the WOOLF NGO which protects forests stated that nobody had any idea where this territory lies exactly since its acreage has not yet been defined. According to protectionists, logging is also being carried out in the Slovak part of the UNESCO world heritage site. This is the reason why they are asking for intact zones in an area of almost 5,700 hectares. Peter Szabo explains that the logging destroys the very object of the protection. Due to insufficient measures taken by the state, Slovak NGOs have issued a call to remove the Slovak part of the primeval beech forests from the cross-border UNESCO site.

Ina Sečíková, Photo: TASR

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