Stop the destruction of Sumava National Park, Czech Republic
Sumava is the largest national park in the Czech Republic, and arguably the closest thing the country has to real wilderness. The national park encompasses more than 600 square kilometres of mountain spruce forests, peat bogs and other wetlands, glacial lakes and flower rich meadows.
The park is home to vital populations of lynx, caterpillar, black grouse, Ural owl and European elk. Sumava is a Natura 2000 site under both Bird and Habitat Directives, a UNESCO biosphere reserve, and its peat bogs and peat forests are listed as under the Ramsar convention on wetlands.
However, the a new director of the national park Jan Strasky has proposed large scale logging of spruce forests in the national park. This will lead to enormous clearcuts across the national park.
Beautiful habitats of ancient mountain forests will be lost. The official reason for this is bark beetle gradation – the majority of the trees to be cut are said to be infected by bark beetle. However, bark beetle is a key species in mountain and waterlogged spruce forests and natural processes should be strictly protected in central parts of national parks. Environmental groups believe the beetle is simply an excuse to cede to logging interests who continually lobby politicians for new concessions.
Jan Strasky, the park director, is a former politician and a long-time critic of modern nature conservation. He famously said: "Nature is the enemy and therefore one must fight it. If it wasn't for my ancestors who fought various animals I would not be here today”.
He has also announced plans for various projects such as, a ski lift, the enlargement of the road to the Austrian border to support the construction of new private buildings, and even the establishment of new municipalities inside the national park.
Friends of Earth Czech Republic (FoE CR) and other environmental organisations wrote to the Czech authorities to urge them to halt the logging in what until now has been declared as non intervention (strictly protected) forests.
The letters had no effect and the logging continued. As a result FoE CR, Greenpeace, Birdlife and other organisations started a peaceful blockade of the felling area. They were joined by some leading scientists and members of the general public.
A court ruling eventually put a stop to the blockade by FoE CR. However, up to 70 members of the general public and other NGOs continue to protest despite heavy handed tactics from the police and other members of the securtiy services.
The heavy police and military presence suggests that this battke is not only about the logging of 3 to 6 thousand trees but rather a demonstration of political power aiming to devastate the national park.
Please join us in writing to key Czech officials who are responsible for the national park and ask them to stop logging what is locally referred to as the wild heart of Europe.
see the devastation for yourself