Threatened forests of the Hungarian Plain

  According to forestry statistics the area of forests is continuously increasing in Hungary, thanks to the versatile subsidy schemes, but the real tendency is just the opposite – states the report compiled by Nimfea Environment and Nature Conservation Association. The report uses case studies to illustrate the threats to the forests of the Great Hungarian Plain.

  A plantation of trees of the same type and of the same age is not a forest in the biological term; neither provides social and public services. The area of real forest is deceasing fast, partly due to the activities of the so called “wood mafia”, private logging of forests ignoring management plans, as well as energetic use of the forest biomass. Unfortunately the government is not a good owner of the forests either: state owned forest managers sometimes also contribute to the destruction of forests.

  Nimfea Environmental and Nature Conservation Association is willing to counteract this worrying trend, based on the results of this report.
Nature conservation authorities in Hungary have been shrinking during the last years regarding both their competence and the number of staff also. The most serious loss of the sector is the lack of powerful and vigorous authority background, simplifying the progress of environmentally harmful, destructive or illegal economic activities, constructions and investments. This situation increases the pressure on NGOs to step in instead of the authorities, and take the necessary legal steps to enforce environmental legislation and ensure public participation. Nimfea Association needed to start six legal processes against the forest management corporation of the Southern Plain (Dalerd Zrt.), including a civil, criminal and administrative legal actions.
   Until these lengthy processes bring any result, semi-natural and old forests are in continuous decline, illegal logging is common practice and the last forest habitats of the Great Hungarian Plain face everyday threats.
„Forests are seriously endangered at several locations” says Ákos Monoki, leader of the biodiversity framework program of the Association. “We try to check on the spot every case of logging that we are informed about, and our sad experiences show that forest managers are not always cooperating partners. One success story stands against nine failures. There are forests, where the manager is dedicated to preserve valuable habitats, but the activities of Dalerd Zrt. pose a threat to several hundreds of hectares, that’s why it is necessary to go to court.”
„Unfortunately forests are threatened not only by illegal logging, but also the negative attitude of forest managers” gives a summary of the report Benedek R. Sallai, the managing director of the Association. “The actions of the above mentioned Dalerd Zrt. has repeatedly compromised natural values: they have hindered the establishment of a landscape protected area; they are setting up a garden for wild boars on the habitat of a moth listed in the Annex of the Habitat  Directive (Fisher's Estuarine Moth, Gortyna borelii), in which case the construction of the fence already destroyed a significant part of the protected plant community; in another case the introduced wild boars threaten a Site of Community Importance, ignoring the relevant national and EU legislation; they have clear-cut a willow-poplar (Salix, Populus) woodland, situated in a Natura 2000 site, on the bank of the River Tisza, without the intention to replant any trees – and the list could be continued” mentions some concrete examples Mr. Sallai. “Another problem is that the principles of public participation are not respected, and the access to information is also often refused regarding forest management plans and other forest-related issues.”
This trend of establishing more and more wild-boar gardens for hunting purposes is especially remarkable, taking into account that relevant scientific data all show that increasing game populations impose the most significant pressure on forest ecosystems. These are worrying signs that the lobbying of hunters can undermine nature conservation interests and economic rationality as well.
“We are convinced that nature conservation and forestry should go hand in hand. Commitment and cooperation is needed to ensure sustainable forest stewardship, and we will work forward strengthening this partnership” says the report of Nimfea Environmental and Nature Conservation Association.

- Copyright Nimfea TE 2001. - Design by LUPUS -