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Tatra National Park

Slovakia creates new nature reserve

Slovakia creates new nature reserve

The Veľký Bukovec Nature Reserve boasts habitats of European importance

Acting on a proposal of the Ministry of the Environment, the Slovak government has approved the creation of another nature reserve in the country, reports Pravda. The Veľký Bukovec Nature Reserve will be located in the Snina district of Prešov Region, eastern Slovakia.

From the sparrow owl to the lynx

Covering areas in the eponymous mountain, the Veľký Bukovec Nature Reserve will be divided into two zones – zone A, where the strictest, fifth degree of protection will apply and zone B, under the fourth degree of protection.

Its total area will be almost 974 hectares. The government decree declaring the new reserve will come into force on 15 September.

There is nature aplenty within the boundaries of the Veľký Bukovec Nature Reserve. It boasts habitats of European importance, including rare species of birds, such as the white-backed woodpecker, the black woodpecker, the long-eared owl and the sparrow owl. Among the animals roaming this area is the lynx, the wolf, the brown bear, the bison, the bearded alpine goat and the Carpathian newt (salamander).

Origins of nature protection

The idea that important natural areas should be given a special protection status was suggested in the early 19th century by the English poet William Wordsworth, who was captivated by the Lake District in northwest England. At about the same time a similar movement began to take shape in America. 

During his travels in the Wild West, the painter George Catlin contemplated the future of the American Indians and the possibilities of preserving the beauty of these vast expenses of pristine nature. In 1832, he wrote that some extensive state protection programme could tackle this issue. In 1872, the Yellowstone National Park, the first one in the USA and probably in the world, was established by the US Congress.  

The first national park in Europe was established in 1910 in Sweden. And after World War II, the states began paying more attention to nature protection and the creation of tourist-attractive areas, a trend which continues up to this day.

9 national parks

6.5 percent of the territory of Slovakia is under nature protection. The country has 9 national parks, the oldest and largest being the Tatra National Park (TANAP).

It was established in 1949 over an area of 738 sq km with a protection zone of 307 sq km, or a total of 1,045 sq km. Famed for its imposing peaks and deep mountain lakes, TANAP also attracts tourists with 600 kilometres of hiking trails and 16 marked maintain biking paths. 

The smallest of Slovakia’s national parks, having an area of 37.5 sq km, is the Pieniny National Park near the border with Poland. The youngest Slovak national parks are the Slovak Karst National Park and the Great Fatra National Park, both of them established in 2002.

EUR 9958 fine for collecting protected plants

Under Slovak law, it is forbidden to collect any plants, including unprotected ones in national parks and nature reserves where third, fourth or fifth degree of protection applies. Plucking, digging or otherwise destroying protected plants is punishable by a fine of up to EUR 9958. 

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