1.         Caves of Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst (Hungary,Slovakia) (N 725ter)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1995

Criteria  (viii)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/725/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/725/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/725/

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 2002

Previous deliberations:
25th session of the Committee – Chapter VIII.97 / Annex IX, page 119.

Main issues:

Mining proposals; surface protection of cave system; upgrade to national park status; amendments to mining act; NGO and local community involvement.

New information:

The Minister for the Environment of Slovakia provided a report, dated 30 January 2002, to the Centre which was transmitted to IUCN for review. IUCN states that the report notes that on 11 January 2002 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.  On 29 January 2002, the proposal was discussed by the Legislative Council of the Slovak Government. It is anticipated that the national park designation will officially come into force on the 1st March 2002.  The report notes 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 mentions that the Slovakian NGO “the Sosna Association”, raised concerns about the preparation of an amendment of the Act No.44/1988 Coll. on Protection and Utilisation of Mineral Resources (Mining Act). The Ministry of Environment submitted comments on the proposed amendments and was successful in achieving its desired changes, in particular that regional offices of the competent nature protection body and local government must give approval for any new mining activities. The report mentions 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.

IUCN received a report on Sosna’s campaign “Save the Slovakian Karst”, which it has been implementing since December 2000 in partnership with the administration of Hrhov village in the Slovakian Karst, several other Slovak NGOs and PROACT, an international group of birdwatchers dedicated to protesting against the destruction of important bird habitats through email campaigns targeting governments, state authorities and companies in Europe. Sosna, which 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 commends the excellent standard of administration of cave management, research and monitoring in Slovakia. This is resulting in steady improvements in on-ground management of karst sites.

Action Required

The Bureau commends the State Party on rejecting the mining application which 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 urges 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 acknowledges the role of Sosna and its partners in achieving positive outcomes for the protection of the site and encourages the State Party to carefully consider proposals for sustainable tourism and ecological agriculture in and around the site.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2002

N/A

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 26 COM 21B.8

The World Heritage Committee,

Notes the state of conservation report and the decision by the Bureau contained in document WHC-02/CONF.202/2, paragraphs XII. 19-22.

Decision Adopted: 26 BUR XII.19-22

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.