WWF Magyarország

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Milestone in saving World Heritage site in Hungary

2016-05-18

A spark of hope with persisting concerns at the only World Heritage site of Hungary

It has only been a month since WWF issued its report stating, that nearly half of all natural World Heritage sites are threatened by harmful industrial activities, among which the only natural World Heritage site in Hungary was a local flagship due to planned lignite mining activities. Thanks to the ongoing joint efforts of WWF Hungary and the local communities and authorities, one of the sites threatened by a planned mine, found in the buffer zone of the Caves of Aggtelek and the Slovak Karst, the UNESCO World Heritage Site, - has been announced to receive legal protection!

The safety of the buffer zone is a fundamental requirement when it comes to maintaining the condition of a natural World Heritage site. This is why the plans of an open pit lignite mine 3 kilometres away from the Hungarian area of the Caves of Aggtelek and Slovak Karst was an alarming crisis that made local municipal authorities, local communities and WWF Hungary to join forces and step against the opening plans.

Due to the efforts, the process of the opening has been balked a few months ago which gave a relief to the local communities, who were concerned about the prospective loss of their natural treasures, the health risks and feared the possible damage of their main drinking water supply.

Their relief now seems to be even more permanent, since as of May, 2016 the local councils of Szőlősardó and Teresztenye have issued the official natural protection of the involved 108,23 hectares area. This means, that from now on the authorized purpose of the territory is to secure the protection of the natural resources for the upcoming generations, by maintaining the local ecological landuse and farming traditions.

“This is a spark of hope for the region that illustrates that if we join forces, together we can help save our only natural World Heritage site from harmful activities. Nevertheless our concerns still persist since there are a few operating lignite and coal mines in the region Northeastern Hungary, not far from our valued World Heritage site. These pose existing health and environmental risks to the local communities, therefore WWF Hungary is dedicated to support further ambitions towards the protection of the Caves of Aggtelek” – said Csaba Vaszko, Climate Change and Energy Program leader at WWF Hungary.