November, the nature conservation foundation EuroNatur
will present the 2014 EuroNatur Award – for outstanding services to nature
conservation – to Friends of the Earth Czech Republic / Hnutí Duha, it
was announced last month.
EuroNatur President Christel Schroeder
explained: "Over the last two decades
Hnutí Duha has shown outstanding commitment to the protection of the
Bohemian Forest National Park. Their contributions to the conservation of
natural resources along the European Green Belt with their international
understanding of civil society involvement are a shining example to us
The Bohemian Forest ('Šumava'
in Czech) is a low mountain range along the German-Czech-Austrian border.
During the Cold War, the Iron Curtain cut right through what is now the
Šumava National Park. In this former no-go area nature was left to develop
practically undisturbed for decades. Today this mosaic of ancient mountain
spruce forests, moorland and wild flower meadows offers a habitat for
endangered species such as the lynx, elk, Eurasian three-toed woodpecker and
Western Capercaillie. Together with the Bavarian Forest National Park,
Šumava National Park forms one of the largest stretches of wilderness in
Central Europe and is an essential part of the 'European Green
Belt', which connects vital biotopes along the former Iron Curtain.
Friends of the Earth Czech Republic/Hnutí Duha campaigns to preserve the
Bohemian Forest as one of the last remaining wildernesses on our continent and
conducts national and international public advocacy work for this goal. The
Czech organisation works closely on this task with German nature
conservationists in Bavaria, such as Friends of the Earth Germany/ BUND. For,
although on paper the park has been a protected area since 1992, the natural
treasures of Šumava are under threat. The core zone of the National Park
has gradually been further split up and reduced in size over the years.
Moreover, here – in contrast to the Bavarian Forest – there has still not been
any defined zoning carried out to date.
For example, in 2011 the newly established National Park Management further
reduced the area of the core zone and ordered measures against bark beetles
even in ecologically sensitive regions. Environmental activists from FoE Czech
Republic/Hnutí Duha blocked the logging activities and drew
international attention to the dangers with a large-scale petition. The police
used violence in their attempts to move protesters and concern spread across
national borders. Czech courts subsequently declared measures taken by the
National Park Management and the police illegal.
Currently a bill is being planned which could make the whole idea of the
National Park an absurdity: among other points permanent permission for hunting
and the exploitation of wood would be granted, and barriers to construction
As Christel Schroeder
said: "There will only be a future for
a peaceful Europe if we take action to protect our European natural heritage.
The idea at the heart of the European Green Belt is to create and foster peace
and Hnutí Duha realises it in exemplary fashion."