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State institutions are preparing an exchange of forests, which is supposed to break the resistance of the Department of Defense against the inclusion of its lands in the considered national park Křivoklátsko.
According to Seznam Zpráv, the principle of the transaction is that the Military Forests and Farms (VLS) will transfer to the Forests of the Czech Republic more than 500 hectares that they have in the territory of the planned park. And instead, the civilian state enterprise will hand over a similar area of forests in Brdy to the soldiers. In total, this shift will affect 1075 hectares.
This was confirmed by representatives of both companies, stating that a final agreement has not yet been reached. “The considered transfer is subject, among other things, to the approval of the authorities concerned,” noted the spokesperson of Lesů ČR Přemysl Šrámek.
At the same time, the actors do not hide that the castling with the forests is done only so that the army does not come to harm because of the park.
“The goal is to minimize the effects of the declaration of the Křivoklátsko National Park on strategic plans for the defense of the state, which tend to increase in terms of the need for suitable locations in the current geopolitical situation,” says Jan Sotona, spokesman for Military Forests and Estates.
“Thanks to the exchange, the strategic interests of the state will be preserved both in the field of nature and landscape protection and in the field of defense,” said Lucie Ješátková, spokeswoman for the Ministry of the Environment. According to her statement, the change will not affect the area of the park.
Important for the defense of the state
The incriminated plots are located on the northwestern edge of the planned park, between the municipalities of Bratronice, Běleč, Chyňava and Malé Kyšice. In the neighborhood of the former missile base, which was built under the previous regime to protect the Ruzyne airport and the capital.
After the Ministry of the Environment announced its intention to declare Křivoklátska a park last year, Military Forests and Farms opposed it (along with most other owners).
In their objections, a copy of which Seznam Zprávy obtained, they expressed “fundamental disagreement” against the plan. The management of the state-owned enterprise under the Ministry of Defense pointed out that its land at Bratronic is “important for the defense of the state”. And this with the fact that, if necessary, they should be available to the Ministry of Defense without undue delay, or Army of the Czech Republic.
The company also argued the state of war in Ukraine and the “difficult prediction of further developments”. The land is said to be of strategic importance to the army and, on the contrary, it would be necessary to increase its area, not reduce it.
However, in the end, the soldiers decided to “let go” of their land in exchange for spare land in the Brda Highlands, thereby expanding their holdings there. “The mentioned location meets the strategic needs of the armed forces and the demands of the department,” expressed satisfaction with the resulting solution, the spokesperson of the military forests Sotona.
The ones who will feel the whole thing negatively, in the end, will be the civilian Forests of the Czech Republic. They will take over the property in Křivoklátsk from the soldiers, but together with other thousands of hectares, they should then hand it over to the future administration of the national park. Their total “damage” will thus be greater than it should have been.
The Forests of the Czech Republic also initially disagreed with the park, when the general director Dalibor Šafařík stated in the submitted objections that the state of the forests in Křivoklátsk was in “fundamental contradiction” with the definition for declaring a national park. “These are not natural ecosystems that have been little influenced or altered by humans,” wrote Šafařík. However, under political pressure at the end of February this year, the state-owned company finally withdrew its objections and stopped causing problems.
As a result, the park is to be declared almost exclusively on the lands of Lesů ČR. The opposition of a number of private individuals was resolved by excluding their land from the park proposal.
The situation eventually calms down
The declaration of a national park, which the government’s program statement envisages, will have to be approved by both houses of parliament. Environment Minister Petr Hladík (KDU-ČSL) wants to push it through despite the opposition of the majority of mayors in the region, as he recently stated in an interview for Seznam Zprávy. The People’s Minister argues precisely that the park will be created almost exclusively on state land.
Communal politicians in Křivoklátsk fear, among other things, the impenetrability and impassability of the territory due to the policy of “non-interference”, the ministry considers these fears odd.
The meeting, which took place on the last day of October in front of the petition committee in the Chamber of Deputies, with the participation of about a hundred opponents from the ranks of mayors and foresters, also showed the obvious discrepancy in opinions. Deputy Tomáš Tesař (TOP 09) was present on behalf of the ministry. There, too, there was a mention, without further details, of the upcoming land dispute between the Forests of the Czech Republic and the soldiers. But the opinion that resonated the most was that nature in Křivoklátsk is sufficiently protected by the current PLA Křivoklátsk, so there is no need to declare a park.
Even the long-time head of the Křivoklátsko Protected Area Administration and supporter of the park, Petr Hůla, notices how deep a ditch this issue has dug in the region in recent months, and he also sees the great influence of the “hunting lobby” in this.
Hůla recalls that when he and his colleagues first tried to declare the park 12 years ago, there was far from much resistance. “At that time, about half of the mayors were for the national park, and many others were neutral. If the government had not fallen then, the park would have already been declared,” Hůla judges. He also sees errors in the state’s current communication, in which, as he says, the PLA Administration was not involved.
He considers it important to explain to the local people, for example, that they do not have to worry about the dramatic increase in tourists. “There are no super-tourist attractions such as Pravčická brána, ski areas, sandstone gorges and the like. It’s a similar area to the Podyjí National Park – a river canyon and extensive forests,” said Hůla.
Personally, he still believes that Fial’s government will succeed in declaring the park. “Subsequently, everything will calm down and communication with the mayors will return to normal,” says the long-time head of the Křivoklátsko Protected Area Administration.