Polnad-Hungary Forum: How to protect the common natural heritage of the Carpathians?

How to protect the environment and how to keep the balance between using the tourist potential of the Carpathians and counteracting the negative impact on the environment? These issues were discussed on the first day of the Poland-Hungary Forum by the panel of experts involved in searching for the best solutions in the area of ​​this sensitive balance.
The panel was preceded by the presentation of Water Retainer® – an innovative Hungarian solution presented by Steven Joseph Kaknics-Ujhelyi, vice president of the Queen Jadwiga Foundation from Hungary.
The presenter pointed out that the North is more voulnerable to the problem of drought in the context of the climate change.

We need an immediate response, and a political will in particular – Mr Kaknics-Ujhelyi said.

In 2018, the value of damage related to drought reached 1 billion dollars and affected 200 thousand farms. The Hungarian innovation, the subject of Steven Joseph Kaknics-Ujhelyi’ presentation, is the result of many years of experience of Hungarian scientists. It improves the retention capacity of water in the soil, it also positively affects the microbiological environment and increases the humus layer. The “water keeper”, is able to stop the moisture in the soil, inhibit evaporation and secure the possibility of plant vegetation under desirable conditions.

After the presentation, a debate moderated by Anna Paluch, vice-president of the Committee of Environmental Protection, Natural Resources and Forestry (Sejm of the Republic of Poland) began. The panel consisted of Wladysław Ortyl, the marshal of the Podkarpackie Voivodeship, Jan Kosiorowski – director of the Regional Directorate of State Forests in Krakow, Marek Kroczek, deputy Director of the Landscape Parks of the Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Ryszard Prędki, director of the Bieszczady National Park and Tomasz Romanowski representing the State Forests – Nawojowa Forest Inspectorate.
Wladysław Ortyl talked about the need to implement the Carpathian Strategy.

We want to have such a strategy, hence actions in the European Committee of the Regions. We hope to achieve similar successes to the Alipine Strategy. We need to act at the parliamentary, local government and government level and I am very determined to implement such an instrument, because it is related to the preservation of our great good – he argued.

He also talked about infrastructural needs (S19 expressway), seeking sustainable, balanced, development:

We want it to be safe, faster and not affecting the environment – he said. He also expressed high hopes for Poland’s Presidency of the Carpathian Convention.

 

Anna Paluch expressed her appreciation to the Podkarpackie voivodship for its avantgarde position when it comes to taking actions for the region development. Then, she asked the head of the State Forests whether the economy of State Forests is a sustainable one.

Director Jan Kosiorowski presented statistics on the afforestation of Poland. He pointed to the need to provide professional staff and the importance of forest engineering.

Many factors influence the natural heritage of the Carpathians, but a lot depends on the prudence of people – he said.

He pointed out that currently there are 224 protected species in the Red Book of the Carpathians, 77 vulnerable to extinction and 18 already considered extinct. The director of State Forests also suggested the initiation of a wider discussion on the priorities in the field of forest protection.
The moderator asked about the possible way of reconciling the requirements of nature protection with the needs of tourism.
Director Ryszard Predki, representing the Bieszczady National Park, admitted that reconciliation of these values ​​is very difficult, but possible. He mentioned that a Council of Europe Diploma for Protected Areas was awarded to the Bieszczady National Park in recognition of the ability to balance tourism access and respect for nature protection.

We have bicycle routes and cross-border paths and the problems occure when the holidays season starts and large masses of tourists enter the Park. There is no doubt – we need funds to secure the renovation of hiking trails and such measures have been foreseen for the labeling of the tracks. We have renovated small wooden architecture, rainshelters and more.

In turn, Marek Kroczek from the Landscape Parks Group of the Małopolska voivodship noticed that spacial planning as tool gives very good results, but in his opnion the heritage aspect is equally important:

It is crucial to reflect on what we inherited from our ancestors in spatial planning – he concluded.