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Protected areas in Hungary


1939 was the first time an area was declared protected in Hungary, namely a part of the Great Forest of Debrecen, followed by many others. Protected areas were very small at the beginning: it mainly dealt with parts of forests, forest clearings, pastures, or even specific trees or springs.

Today Hungary is taking great care to ensure that its natural assets are not damaged. For instance, by virtue of the Act on nature conservation (1996) all springs, bogs, caves, karst sink-holes, salt lakes, tumuli and earthen fortifications of the country are protected and qualify as areas of national importance. Protected areas, of both national and local significance, cover on the whole some 895,000 hectares.

Protected areas of national importance include:

National parks, which are extensive territories whose natural character has not been significantly altered, and whose primary function is to conserve natural botanical, zoological, geological, hydrological, scenic and cultural historical values of outstanding importance, sustain biodiversity and the sound functioning of natural systems, promote education, scientific research and recreation. Each national park is run by a national park directorate (operating under the Ministry of Rural Development), which is also in charge for the management of the other protected areas and Natura 2000 sites falling within its competence zone. Together, the competence zones of the 10 national parks cover the whole country.

Landscape protection reserves are extensive and usually unitary territories rich in natural and landscape endowments to which the interactions of Man and Nature have lent a particular aesthetic, cultural and natural character and whose primary function is the conservation of landscape features and natural values. As of 2009, landscape protection reserves are 39.

Nature conservation areas are smaller, unitary and characteristic territories rich in outstanding natural values whose primary function is the conservation of one or several natural values or the coherent system of these.

Natural monuments are any individual natural formation or value of outstanding importance and the territory serving for its conservation.

The main Hungarian authority in this field is the State Secretariat for Nature Conservation and Environment Protection, which is part of the Ministry of Rural Development.

Sources: State secretariat for nature conservation and environment protection; Directorates of Hungarian national parks

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