XII.19 The Bureau noted that the Minister for the Environment of Slovakia provided a report, dated 30 January 2002, to the Centre that was transmitted to IUCN for review. The report noted that the Minister of Environment, after consultations with the concerned ministries, submitted the proposal to the Slovak Government for designating the Slovak Karst Caves as Slovak Karst National Park, noting that with such a designation the level of protection would increase. The report noted that up to the present, the site has been a Protected Landscape Area where geologic activities and mining have only been allowed with the permission of the nature and landscape protection body. Caves are also protected as “national nature monuments” and afforded the highest level of protection. Further, in 2001 the National Council of the Slovak Republic took all caves into State ownership. To date, no permission has been granted for any geologic or mining activity near the Skalisty potok – Kunia preipast cave system. The report also mentioned that the territorial plan of the Large Territorial Unit Kosice Region, approved in 1998 by the Slovak Government, does not propose any limestone mining in the Slovak Karst and emphasises its protection.
XII.20 A number of NGOs, including Sosna, expressed concern that farmers affected by the designation of national park be adequately compensated, is developing, together with the Hrhov local government, proposals for development of sustainable tourism and ecological agriculture. The IUCN WCPA Task Force on Caves and Karst commended the excellent standard of administration of cave management, research and monitoring in Slovakia.
XII.21 The Observer of Slovakia informed the Bureau that the new Slovak Karst National Park came into force on 1 March 2002, in a new framework providing protection for natural sites in Slovakia. She underlined that her authorities are working closely with NGOs on these issues to ensure proper consultation and sustainable development in the region.
XII.22 The Bureau commended the State Party on rejecting the mining application that threatened the site, and on the general improvement in legislative control over protected areas and cave systems, as well as for its decision to designate the site as a national park. The Bureau urged the State Party to apply mechanisms that provide for compensation as well as continued community involvement in the management of the national park. The Bureau acknowledged the role of Sosna and its partners in achieving positive outcomes for the protection of the site and encouraged the State Party to carefully consider proposals for sustainable tourism and ecological agriculture in and around the site.