Save  Sumava National Park

Source:  Friends of the Earth Czech Republic via Taiga Rescue Network
Date:  February 13, 2001

The Sumava National Park is the largest national park in the Czech
Republic. Forests that cover 80% of the park's area have been
affected by bark beetle outbreaks during the last few years. The
ridges of the Sumava Mountains reach the heights of 1300 m and form
the border between the Czech Republic, Germany and Austria. Bavarian
Forest National Park is proclaimed on the German side of the border.

As most of European parks, the Sumava NP is divided into three zones
that are supposed to differ in strictness of conservation measures.
The core zone (the strictly protected one) - only 13% of the park's
area - consists of the most valuable natural ecosystems (virgin and
semi-virgin forest, peat bogs, glacial lakes). The second zone - 82%
of the park's area - consists of human-affected ecosystems (mostly
planted Norwegian spruce), the aim of management is their re-
naturalisation and future inclusion into the core zone. The third
zone - 5% of the park's area- are human settlements and agricultural

The most serious mistake step in this strategy was the change of
zoning in 1995, when the original core zone (designated in early
1990s and then 22% of the park's area) was reduced (to 13%) and
fragmented from originally large blocks, into 135 tiny parts, which
are dispersed all around the Park and are not able to survive
separately. The thorough majority of thus reduced core zone is
created by stands of the natural virgin forest, which should be
protected without any human interference.

The forests of the second zone of the Park, which are managed
"economically", have been heavily logged during the last four years,
with the pretext to fight outbreaks of the European spruce bark
beetle (Ips typographus). But the consequences of the large-scale
clear cut logging (clearings of areas of many hectares, erosion
rills, etc.) are much worse than the consequences of the bark beetle
calamity (decaying spruce trees). The beetle does not damage timber,
so the administration of the Park removes this timber and sells it.
Moreover, the population of the bark beetle has not fallen despite
the drastic "protective" logging; it has even increased between 1996
and 1999. As the logging continues, the forests on the national park
are disappearing...

The area of clearcuts has risen to more than 2000 ha, mainly in
higher mountainous altitudes (1300 m) near the border with Bavarian
Forest National Park, which is managed without human interference.
Wherever a clearing is enlarged by winds, the timber from windbreaks
is removed from ecosystems.

In 1999, the administration of the Park even infringed on the - up to
that time strictly protected - core zones and started logging there
too. In the same time, pattern of the development of the bark beetle
population in several larger virgin forests within the core zones
(Trojmezn , Smrcina, Plesn ) revealed that the outbreak is a
condition in predominately spruce mountainous forests.

The core of the problem is the fact that the administration of the
park is totally under the control of technocratic-minded forest
professionals, who believe that they are able to rule the development
of ecosystems better than nature would do. There is a similar
situation in the Ministry of Environment, which is heavily staffed by
conservative forest engineers.

Even if the foresters were not removing timber out of the core zones,
the continuous development of the habitats was broken and the whole
purpose of existence of the National Park was cast into doubt. In
spite of an intensive campaign, in which environmental NGOs were
joined by many specialists and scientists from the Czech Academy of
Science and universities, as well as by and WWF, the effort to change
the resolution of the administration of the Park and the ministry was
not successful. Therefore, the most valuable complex of mountain
spruce climax virgin forest in the Czech Republic (so-called
Trojmezn virgin forest) had to be guarded against loggers by non-
violent blockade in summer 1999 (for further information, see

The blockade was successful in the sense that it saved Trojmezn from
logging. Further negotiations between Friends of the Earth, experts
and the Ministry of Environment led to a ban on logging of the
Trojmezn forest, except of the 200m wide strip of forest along
the national border.

However, both the administration of the park and the Ministry of
Environment continue the clearing of the other parts of Sumava
National Park. No one is able - and it would be bizarre - to blockade
logging throughout entire national park area. Therefore, we are
trying to mobilise wider national and international support.

Please, write a letter or send a fax to the Czech Minister of
Environment, Mr. Milos Kuzvart, the Czech Prime Minister, Mr. Milos
Zeman, and the President of Republic, Mr. Vaclav Havel. You may also
petition the Czech embassy in your country. Let them know that the
devastation of the Sumava is becoming known world-wide as a
horrendous case of destruction of an important protected area and
park European natural heritage.

Ask for:

* Immediate ban on logging in the first core zones of the Sumava
National park.

* Immediate stop of the clearing in Trojmezn virgin forest border

* Re-evaluation of timber extraction policy in the second zones of
the Sumava NP.

* Change of the zoning - integration of the currently fragmented core
zones and their enlargement to 40% of the park's area.

* Personal changes in the management of the park - nature
conservation and ecology specialists should be engaged instead of
forestry technocrats.

The addresses are:

Mr. Milos Kuzvart
The Minister of Environment of the Czech Republic
Vrsovicka  65, 100 10 Praha 10
Czech Republic
fax: 420-67310200

Mr. Milos Zeman
The Prime Minister
Urad vlady Ceske, Republiky, Nabrezi Edvarda Benese 4
118 01 Praha 1
Czech Republic
fax: 420-24810231

Mr. Vaclav Havel
President of the Czech Republic
Prazsky hrad, 119 08 Praha 1
fax: 4202/24 37 33 00

Please, inform the IUCN about your letter:

IUCN World Headquarters
Rue Mauverney 28
CH - 1196 Gland, Switzerland
fax: 41-22-999-0015

Please send us a copy of your letters and a copy of any answers you

Thank you.

Yours sincerely
Jaromir Bl ha and Radana Cisarov
Forest Campaigners
Hnuti DUHA - Friends of the Earth Czech Republic
Bratislavska  31, 602 00 Brno
fax: 420 5-45214429