Caves of Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst
Factors affecting the property in 2001*
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Agricultural activity in the catchments resulting in soil erosion and sediment being delivered into the caves (issue resolved)
- Impact on the karst environment from communal sewage and from a quarry previously in operation (issue resolved)
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2001
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2001**
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2001
In June 2001, IUCN received reports concerning the preparation of a new version of the mining law by the Slovak Ministry of Economy. The new law is believed to remove or weaken the present restrictions on mining operations in protected areas. The reports also claimed that mining companies are seeking to open new limestone mines in the Slovak Karst, and claims the granting of limestone exploitation licenses by the Slovak Government is imminent. SOSNA, a Slovak environmental NGO, has proposed to the Slovak Minister of Environment the re-categorisation of the Slovak Karst from a Protected Landscape Area to a National Park and the development of local sustainable tourism and biological farming. It has also proposed that the revised mining law exclude geological reserves. EuroBirder, a group of professional and amateur ornithologists based in Berlin concerned with the preservation of the environment in the Western Palaearctic, has also approached the Minister of Environment on the issue of National Park status for the area. It also mentions interest from local towns in the development of ‘soft’ tourism and traditional industries, handicrafts and farming methods, and opposition to the visible impact caused by limestone mining.
IUCN has also received the State Party's state of conservation report for the Slovak Karst World Heritage site, dated the 5 October 2001, which notes:
· Under the Law of the National Board of the Slovak Republic regarding the Protection of Nature and Landscape, the Caves are listed as either National Monuments or Nature Monuments. This level of protection is the highest level of protection under the Law. Every cave that is listed as part of the World Heritage site is covered by this highest level of protection and is further located within the Protected Landscape Area of Slovensky Kras.
· In order to avoid and prevent negative human impacts in the Protected Landscape Area of Slovensky Kras, the Ministry of the Environment in coordination with District offices is in the process of preparing proposals for the reclassification of Slovensky Kras as a National Park. The proposed date for decision by the Government of the Slovak Republic on this reclassification is October 2002.
· With National Park designation, under the Law, the protection of nature is of the highest consideration and only after that may considerations be made for other activities. This means that according to the Law, limestone exploitation is forbidden.
· The regional development plan for the Kosice region, gazetted in 1998, does not propose new limestone mining in the area of Slovensky Kras. Furthermore, this plan proposes the regulation of land-use to be guided by the limits of nature protection, the protection of cultural monuments, and the protection of agricultural and forest soil. These regulations have strong limits regarding acceptable human impact activities.
· The Ministry of Economy has proposed a new version of the Basic Geological Law regarding geological works and state geological services. This Law includes a section on research of geological conditions for opening new caves and the stabilization of underground areas. The proposed changes were not accepted by the Government, and the Ministry of Economy is preparing a revision. The Ministry of Environment will consider these revisions to ensure this proposal takes into consideration the existing environmental regulations (including the protection of World Heritage sites).
The Cave and Karst Theme Programme of IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas, has provided the Slovak Government with policy and guideline literature on Karst and mining activities.
Summary of the interventions
Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2001
25 COM VIII
Reports on SOC of natural properties inscribed noted by the Committee
Reports on the state of conservation of natural properties inscribed on the World Heritage List noted by the Committee
Great Barrier Reef (Australia)
Fraser Island (Australia)
The Sundarbans (Bangladesh)
Belovezhskaya Pushcha/Bialowieza Forest (Belarus/Poland)
Gros Morne National Park (Canada)
Nahanni National Park (Canada)
Los Katios National Park (Colombia)
Caves of the Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst (Hungary/Slovakia)
The Committee noted that the issues raised concern only the Slovak part of this transboundary site.
Sundarbans National Park (India)
The Delegate of India informed the Committee that there is no National Waterways Project that is planned or likely to impact this site.
Kaziranga National Park (India)
Komodo National Park (Indonesia)
Lorentz National Park (Indonesia)
The Observer of Indonesia thanked the Australian authorities for their financial assistance. He informed the Committee that it would be difficult to comply with the deadline of 1 February and that a report could be provided by the end of March 2002.
Aeolian Islands (Italy)
The Observer of Italy confirmed that there was a court decision on 4 December 2001, which is not yet public, but that it is hoped to be available soon. She informed the Committee that the collaboration between the autonomous regional Government and the central Government has commenced and that a meeting will take place to find a solution.
Banc d'Arguin National Park (Mauritania)
The Delegate of Egypt brought to the attention of the Committee the importance of protecting the wetlands, which are known to be important rest places for the migratory birds along their routes. He suggested that the World Heritage Centre should have a plan defining the wetlands, which are important for the birds and to use this information for establishing "satellite" World Heritage sites. IUCN informed of the co-operation between the World Heritage Centre and the Ramsar Convention as well as with Bird Life International for the protection of the wetlands. He also highlighted the importance of the surrounding areas to the World Heritage sites and the links with the Man and Biosphere programme for the protection of the sites. The Secretariat informed of the on-going discussions with the Secretariat of the Convention of Migratory Species to establish a Memorandum of Understanding between these two Conventions.
Gunung Mulu National Park (Malaysia)
Sian Ka'an (Mexico)
The Delegate of Mexico informed that the confirmation of the Ecological Land-Use Plan is in its final phase and consequently she asked that the deadline for the report requested by the Bureau be set for 15 May 2002 for examination at the twenty-sixth session of the Committee in June.
Royal Chitwan National Park (Nepal)
Western Caucasus (Russian Federation)
Golden Mountains of Altai (Russian Federation)
Doñana National Park (Spain)
Sinharaja Forest Reserve (Sri Lanka)
Ha Long Bay (Vietnam)
Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast (United Kingdom)
St Kilda (United Kingdom)
Serengeti National Park (United Republic of Tanzania)
Great Smoky Mountains National Park (United States of America)
Canaima National Park (Venezuela)
The Bureau may wish to adopt the following decision:
“The Bureau commends the State Party on the process of changing the status of the Protected Landscape Area of Slovensky Kras to that of a National Park. This will complement the adjacent Aggtelek National Park in Hungary and, in doing so, facilitate more cohesive and equivalent management of the two sections of the World Heritage site. The Bureau requests the State Party to provide an update on the proposed revisions to the mining law and specific implications for the World Heritage site by 1 February 2002 for consideration by the twenty-sixth session of the Bureau (April 2002)”.
The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).