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Check Slovakia Habitat Loss!

This is a picture of The Greater Hrhov Fishpond. Help the campaign to stop habitat destruction in Slovakia! The problem is outlined in detail on the new Proact website where birders from all over the world can lend their support to local campaigners trying to save birds & their habitat. Latest news…

Habitat Destruction In The Slovensk? Karst ?A World Heritage Site
An appeal has been received from conservationists in Eastern Slovakia for international support to prevent further environmental damage in this region. In this case it is the proposed destruction of fishponds, reed beds and woodland in a National Park to quarry. It is not only a National Park but a unique Slovakian form of Mediterranean Karst. Already over 70% of the plants have been destroyed with weed killer? join the Campaign now before this unique area is completely destroyed.An appeal has been received from conservationists in Eastern Slovakia for international support to prevent further environmental damage in this region. The problem is outlined in detail at: http://birding_in_europe.tripod.com/proact/ ?SLOVAKIA? (English & German)There are 2 main problem areas:The Greater Hrhov Fishpond.This 180-hectare expanse of water had, until 2 years ago, the second greatest expanse of reed-beds in Slovakia, some 90 hectares. Through the use of the pesticide ?Roundup Biactive? some 75% of the reed-beds have been effectively destroyed and their value as a habitat for breeding waterfowl and other waterside birds severely reduced. Until 1994/94 the fishpond complex was in the buffer zone of the Slovak Karst protected landscape area. It no longer has any form of legal environmental protection.Mining and quarrying operations in the Slovensky Karst, a World Heritage Site since 1998.The Slovak Karst is a unique Mediterranean karst region in Central Europe. It straddles the border into Hungary in which country it is protected by National Park status. Mining and quarrying operations have regrettably taken place in the region for decades. Now however, with the influx of foreign interest and investment, more applications have been lodged to carry out extensive limestone quarrying and cement raw material extraction that will have irreversible effects on this exceptional landscape and its flora and fauna. The applications have been turned down in the first instance at regional level by the environmental authorities after an energetic campaign by local conservationists. There are however moves afoot to introduce a new mining law that will bypass environmental checks and balances.The Slovakian conservationists are now marshalling national and international support to put pressure on the authorities to:Declare the Slovak Karst a National Park
Prevent further pollution of the Greater Hrhov Pond
Include the fishponds in the buffer zone of the proposed National Park, and
Prevent the introduction of legislation to exempt mining and quarrying operations from environmental controlYou are urged to support the Slovakian conservationists campaign by visiting the Proact site at: http://birding_in_europe.tripod.com/proact/ ?SLOVAKIA?Texts in English, which you are free to adapt to your personal style, and email addresses of the relevant decision-makers, are available as download on the site.Further information is available from mailto: proact@david-conlin.de or, from the local conservation group in Slovakia, mailto: sosna@changenet.sk For PROACT-Slovakia 2000Ingrid Balzer, David Conlin, Peter MandzakHabitat Destruction In The 'Velky Hrhovsky Rybnik'- Greater Hrhov Fishpond And Natural Resource Exploitation In The World Heritage Site 'Slovensk? Karst'The Greater Hrhov Fishpond is an integral part of an Important Bird Area IBA- in Eastern Slovakia. The Slovensk? karst an extensive area of hills and plateaux near the Hungarian border. The IBA area is part of the largest karst area in central Europe and is characterised by karst holes, caverns, canyons, deep valleys and gorges. (See IBA detailed reference below.)Over the past 2 years 75% of the vegetation in the immediate shore area, 70 from 90 hectares of reed-beds, has been systematically destroyed by the use of the herbicide 'Roundup Biactive'. The reed-beds of the Greater Hrhov Fishpond were the second largest of their kind in Slovakia. The Greater Hrhov Fishpond (180 hectares), part of a 250 ha complex of such ponds in the area, is used commercially for fish-farming. The companies involved wanted to reduce the expanse of the reed-beds on the grounds that they used up too much oxygen to the detriment of the fish production. A scientific impact report was commissioned by the fish-pond industry which concluded that there was no threat to other flora and fauna. On this basis of this report, assurances by the toxicologists and fish-farmers, and due partly to lack of data on modern pesticides, the local environmental authorities gave their approval to the use of the pesticide. It has now clear that Roundup Biactive is a non-selective pesticide and has killed most plant life in the treated area thus destroying the habitat for many bird species and other organisms in the food chain. Unfortunately the site is not officially a nature reserve and lost the last vestige of protection when the buffer zones of the Slovak Karst protected area were revoked in 1994/95. A drastic decline in breeding birds (see list below) is expected and will be carefully monitored. The area boasts 121 bird, 49 invertebrate, 20 mammal, 14 dragon- and damselfly, 6 amphibian, and 3 reptile species. Breeding Birds include: Black-necked Grebe Schwarzhalstaucher Gr?be ? cou noir Zampull?n Cuellinegro (Podiceps nigricollis) --- Bittern Rohrdommel Butor ?toil? Avetoro Com?n (Botaurus stellaris) --- Little Bittern Zwergdommel Blongios nain Avetorillo Com?n (Ixobrychus minutus) --- Grey Heron Graureiher H?ron cendr? Garza Real (Ardea cinera) --- Ferruginous Duck Moorente Fuligule nyroca Porr?n Pardo (Aythya nyroca) --- Common Pochard Tafelente Fuligule milouin Porr?n Europeo (Aythya ferina) --- Marsh Harrier Rohrweihe Busard des roseaux Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental (Circus aeruginosus) --- Little Crake Kleines Sumpfhuhn Marouette poussin Polluela Bastarda (Porzana parva) --- Kingfisher Eisvogel Martin-p?cheur d'Europe Mart?n Pescador (Alcedo atthis) --- Bearded Tit Bartmeise Panure ? moustaches Bigotudo (Panurus biarmicus) --- Great Reed Warbler Drosselrohrs?nger Rousserolle turdo?de Carricero Tordal (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) --- Reed Warbler Teichrohrs?nger Rousserolle effarvatte Carricero Com?n (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) --- Savi's Warbler Rohrschwirl Locustelle luscinio?de Buscarla Unicolor (Locustella luscinioides)and an important staging area for the following migrants:
Bittern Rohrdommel Butor ?toil? Avetoro Com?n (Botaurus stellaris) --- Great White Egret Silberreiher Grande Aigrette Garceta Grande (Casmerodius albus) --- Purple Heron Purpurreiher H?ron pourpr? Garza Imperial (Ardea purpurea) --- Osprey Fischadler Balbuzard p?cheur ?guila Pescadora (Pandion haliaetus) --- Hen Harrier Kornweihe Busard Saint-Martin Aguilucho P?lido (Circus cyaneus) --- Common Crane Kranich Grue cendr?e Grulla Com?n (Grus grus) --- Spotted Redshank Dunkler Wasserl?ufer Chevalier arlequin Archibebe Oscuro (Tringa erythropus) --- Black Tern Trauerseeschwalbe Guifette noire Fumarel Com?n (Chlidonias nigra).As if this was not enough, planning permission was sought for the large scale extraction of limestone and other raw materials for cement in the region.In an internationally funded operation, fronted by the local company BETOX in Kosice, a quarrying operation of huge proportions is projected in the area, locally known as the ?Lower Hill?. The planned quarry with a length of 3 km would cause complete destruction of some 30 karst ravines, sinks and cave complexes and involve the elimination of natural beech and oak-beech forest; some of the oaks are 300 years old. Two natural karst springs and a naturally-flowing small river would be destroyed with irreparable consequences for the natural hydrology of the area. With the granting of National Park status, as is the case on the Hungarian side of the border, an important degree of protection would be achieved against any new damaging inroads.Breeding species threatened by this operation are Lesser Spotted Eagle Schreiadler Aigle pomarin ?guila Pomerana (Aquila pomarina), Honey Buzzard Wespenbussard Bondr?e apivore Abejero Europeo (Pernis apivorus), Black Stork Schwarzstorch Cigogne noire Cig?e?a Negra (Ciconia nigra), Grey-headed Woodpecker Grauspecht Pic cendr? Pito Cano (Picus canus), Middle-spotted Woodpecker and Collared Flycatcher Halsbandschn?pper Gobemouche ? collier Papamoscas Collarino (Ficedula albicollis).In a further project for the extraction of raw material for cement production in the karst foothills was also submitted for official approval is. The planning foresaw the complete flattening of the 200m high ?Paklan? hill, reducing it to river level. The result would be the complete destruction of an exceptional area of bio-diversity ranging from upland forest through scrub and drought-tolerant meadows to low-lying wetland. The springs and river drain eventually into the Hrhov fishponds.Apart from Short-toed Eagle, this karst zone is home to all 3 European Locustella species and the Corncrake. Also affected are a total of 20 bird species, some of them on the Red List, plants requiring a warm and dry habitat and many butterfly and moth species. In 1975 the Slovak Karst was categorised as a Protected Landscape Area and in 1998 as a World Heritage Site.Although the planning permission for these 2 commercial ventures has been turned down in the first instance by the local environmental authorities, the conservationists see this only as a short breathing space. With few resources the local resistance is up against a battery of mining concerns, their contracted geologists and cement and concrete producing companies. The main hope now lies in the granting of National Park status and the prevention of the introduction of a new law, which would permit new mining or quarrying ventures, outside the National Park (but in environmentally sensitive areas), without the approval of the environmental authorities.Local environmentalists are planning international protest to give the problem a higher profile an enlist much need support and lobbying. Their main demands are as follows:An end to the use of herbicides/pesticides in the Hrhov Fishponds and the Slovak Karst region.
Better supervision of the fish-farms to ensure 'sustainable' management
Inclusion of the fishponds in the protected (buffer) zone of the proposed cross-border National Park
A ban on any new exploitation of natural resources in the Slovak Karst region (opposition to the introduction of a new mining law)PROACT will assist in supporting this endeavour by informing Eurobirders and birders in other continents and countries of the issue, encouraging them to protest against this rape of nature in a remote - but not forgotten - corner of Eastern Europe.The priorities in Slovakia are such that environmental issues are not always top of the agenda in the responsible government departments. To be fair however the environmental authorities have been active in increasing the protection for the Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) and are reported to be taking a robust stance in turning down the first application for limestone quarrying. Nevertheless environmental awareness is conspicuous by its absence in other areas and they should be encouraged to keep up the good work. As a contender for membership of the European Union in due course Slovakian politicians and civil servants will also be eager to keep their international image as well polished as possible.Moderate pressure from a wide range of foreign countries may therefore have a telling impact on decision-makers. It will undoubtedly provide welcome support for the activities of the local environmentalists in a comparatively unspoilt European region that, although economically disadvantaged and under-developed, still offers residents and visitors a rich variety of natural treasures and great beauty.Below is a current statement form Samo Pacenovsky in SOSNA, Kosice, Slovakia, the local coordinator of the protest action:"Dear friends,
We highly appreciate Your sincere effort to support our wildlife and save our natural habitats in the Slovakian karst. Thank You for Your support in our effort to protect birds, their habitats and give a higher value to sustainable management of the unique karst and wetland habitat and preference of a long-term nature protection before short-term destruction of nature for profit.
Today we heard a news, that the Belgian company Carmeuse - an owner of the existing quarry in Vcelare - close to the border of the protected landscape area Slovakian karst plans to expand its territory - include a large portion of the Protected Landscape Area Slovakian karst. This enlarged area should lead from the existing quarry at Vcelare till Hrhov area - on the Lower hill plateau.This plan is almost identical with the proposal of the Slovakian company BETOX to open a proposed area for a future quarry at the Lower hill. This is the same site of interest, the completely same area [inside the Protected Landscape Area, and inside the proposed National Park] with the same consequences and threats for nature, for unique karst habitats, caves, karst - springs, natural forests and rare birds. Just the proposer is different: the Carmeuse company is a rival to the BETOX company and if the BETOX could not gain permission to open a new quarry, Carmeuse will try to get this permit - who knows, maybe they will be more luckier, then the BETOX?As You can see, Your moderate pressure on our decision makers is still relevant and it is still needed, because the threats are still very real.Thank you once more for your help, and please, encourage your friends to join our campaign, too; because, what you do helps the planet, it is a benefit for all of us.

4th July 2014