Budapest, Hungary, 28 April - Today the Hungarian Parliament accepted a bill which endangers the country's natural resources by taking land management rights away from state nature conservation organisations. This act leaves no doubt that the government has the intention to further decrease the level of nature conservation. Decisions in recent years have already put the conservation system in Hungary on a downhill run.
Hungary was in the forefront of nature conservation for a long time, having strong legislation, a well-developed system of governmental institutions, a good network of protected areas based on state-owned land, and a very active group of nature conservation NGOs. In the last decade, government decisions have deteriorated this system step-by-step , losing the chance to step up conservation in a very critical time.
Today, the Parliament accepted a new bill on the management of state-owned lands, which may lead to further negative outcomes for nature conservation and shift the system to a point of no return.
Hungarian National Park directorates currently manage approximately 300,000 hectares of state-owned land in protected areas, through active conservation management (habitat restorations, agreements with local farmers, grazing with local breeds, etc.). These land management actions form the basis of Hungarian nature conservation and ensure the good status of the Natura 2000 network in Hungary. The new act seriously influences the well-developed system by transferring the management rights of these state-owned protected areas to a central agency whose focus is more on state property policy than on nature conservation.
The conservation organizations BirdLife Hungary, Friends of the Earth Hungary and WWF Hungary express their deep concern about the outcomes of the act and have already taken action to turn the processes into the right direction. At their request, thousands of people also expressed their concerns on the draft by sending letters to decision-makers.
"The law accepted today goes fundamentally against our constitutional right to a clean environment, thus jeopardizing the right of future generations to health. Therefore, we will ask for the help of the President, the Ombudsman and all Parliament parties who can challenge laws at the Constitutional Court, in order to annul the law," said Katalin Sipos, director of WWF Hungary.
“In our opinion, with these last steps we have reached a tipping point. If we keep going downhill, we will not be able to restore what was lost during this process. We call for immediate action to stop the downhill run and to start strengthening the once illustrious system of nature conservation,” said Gergő Halmos, Director of Birdlife Hungary.
“As biodiversity suffers from serious decline across the world, we need a strong and reliable system to be able to face the challenges ahead. We need a system where government bodies are responsible for nature conservation and the National Park directorates hold the management rights for protected areas -- a system where these institutions receive funding for their basic operations from the state budget, a system where the conservation of natural resources is taken into account in every government decision,” said István Farkas, Chairman of Friends of the Earth Hungary.
BirdLife Hungary, Friends of the Earth Hungary and WWF Hungary hereby call every potential partner to contribute to stop the further erosion of Hungarian nature conservation and cooperate on protecting the unique natural heritage of the Pannonian Biogeographic Region.
Read more: WWF Hungary (in Hungarian)