Friday, 25 April 2014

Activists blockade bark beetle-hit forest in Šumava

18 July 2011

Modrava, West Bohemia, July 16 (CTK) - Environmental activists Saturday continued to block a locality near Modrava in the Sumava National Park to prevent the cutting of bark beetle-hit trees which they consider unlawful, Jaromir Blaha, from the Friends of the Earth environment association, has said.

Blaha said the Sumava National Park Administration had not been granted an exemption for the tree felling and had not assessed its influence on the NATURA 2000 protected locality.

The park management, for its part, claims that the tree felling is in compliance with law and the Environment Ministry's stance.

Loggers have not appeared in the forest yet.

"We have been on the spot since the morning. There are 21 people. So far nothing has happened in the respective locality," natural scientist Mojmir Vlasin, who is defending the trees along with other activists, told CTK.

Police arrived in the locality to monitor the blockade.

Activists called the police themselves asking them to investigate whether the previously cut threes had been cut at variance with law or not.

According to activists, some 3000 trees are marked for felling in the zone inhabited by protected animal species.

"If someone threatens his own safety in the marked area, we will call the police to keep order. The Friends of the Earth's methods are inadmissible and we must fight them back," Sumava park director Jan Strasky said in a press release

The park management postponed the tree felling until July 15 to meet the objections that it could threaten the grouse nesting, he added.

Blaha said this was the second territory that had been left to spontaneous development in the past.

Environment Minister Tomas Chalupa (senior ruling Civic Democrats, ODS) approved the cutting of spruces afflicted by bark beetle there but the park administration must have an expert opinion on the influence of the tree felling on local plants and animals worked out first, which it has not done yet, Blaha said.

The park must also be granted an exemption for the use of technologies harming the ecosystem's structure and function, he added.

However, the park administration argues that it must take quick steps in the situation of an extensive bark beetle invasion to protect further forests in Sumava and prevent more serious damage.

The Natura 2000 assessment, which the activists demand, would last until the autumn, the park management says.

Sumava, situated in west and south Bohemia, is the largest national park in the Czech Republic covering 16,827 hectares. Along with the Bavarian Forest National Park with 5843 hectares of mountainous spruce forests they make up the largest continuous belt of this type of forest in central Europe.

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