Honolulu, USA/Prague, Sept 7 (CTK) – A congress of the world nature conservation union (IUCN) has called on the Czech Republic to change its approach to the Sumava National Park (NPS) so that it can keep the national park status according to international criteria, Professor Pavel Kindlmann told CTK on Tuesday.

The congress passed a resolution specifying the steps to be taken for Sumava to remain a world recognised national park, Kindlmann, who attends the conference in the USA, said.

The Czech Republic must meet two conditions at least. First, the NPS’s zone left to spontaneous development must be immediately extended to make up 30 percent of the park’s area.

Second, a binding timetable for this zone’s further gradual extension must be approved, so that it makes up at least 50 percent of the park’s area by 2030, Kindlmann said.

The IUCN resolution also applies to Germany’s Bavarian Forest National Park that borders on Sumava, and Austria’s Boehmerwald-Muehltaeler protected area, and asks their managers to cooperate on applying uniform principles of nature protection.

Commenting on the resolution, IUCN expert in wildlife and WILD Foundation President Vance Martin said the international community always admired the Czech Republic’s exemplary pledge to protect Sumava’s unique and globally significant ecosystems in so big a national park. However, it is important for such pledges to be really fulfilled, he said.

IUCN members have clearly expressed concern at the potential implementation of commercial projects in Sumava, which could destroy its natural values, and their wish to maintain a high nature protection level in Sumava so that it can keep the prestigious national park status, Martin said.

Kindlmann said he was surprised at the strong interest that the participants in the congress, who come from all over the world, have shown in the fate of a national park situated in remote Central Europe.

“Almost everybody whom I talked to asked me about Sumava,” Kindlmann said.

He said the Czech Republic has a reputation of a country that cares assiduously for nature, which is why foreigners cannot understand why Sumava has been viewed as controversial in this respect.

“The handful of regional politicians who have presented their plans for opening Sumava to developers (to the detriment of wild nature) as their election programme have done disservice to the Czech Republic’s world reputation,” Kindlmann told CTK.

Czech environmentalists, for their part, have welcomed the IUCN resolution, which corresponds to their own efforts to have Sumava’s strictest protected zone extended.

At present, the NPS zones left to spontaneous development make up 23 percent of the park and another 5 percent partly meet the criterion because interventions there cannot influence the ecosystem.

According to NPS director Pavel Hubeny, a new management plan is being discussed that would extend the zones by another 22 percent so that they can reach more than 50 percent after 2030.

The Sumava National Park, spreading in the Sumava mountains along the southwestern border, was established in 1991. With 680 square kilometres, it is the largest of the country’s four national parks.