Česká verze

International cooperation helps to move forward negotiations on the construction of ecoducts in the Czech Republic

12.9.2017, Šelmy.cz

The Jablunkov depression on the Czech-Slovak-Polish border is an area of special significance for the transboundary cooperation in the protection of large carnivores. It could serve as a model example for the resolution of conflicts between large carnivores and linear infrastructure. In the last months, Czech, Slovak and European Commission experts agreed to work together in coordinating the protection of wildlife corridors in Jablunkov.

In recent decades, the densely populated area at the edge of the West Carpathians has experienced rapid development. Landscape permeability for large carnivores has been reduced to just a few remaining corridors. Roads and railways build without a consideration for wildlife might present impassable obstacles for large mammals.

The main traffic artery dividing the Moravian-Silesian and Silesian Beskydy, the I/11 road with approximately 7,500 vehicles passing each day, creates such a significant barrier. On the positive side, during the reconstruction of the international railway line running in parallel to I/11, new underpasses were built to allow the crossing of large mammals.

Friends of the Earth Czech Republic (Hnutí DUHA) and the Beskydy PLA Administration have been advocating the need to improve the landscape permeability in the Jablunkov depression. In 2006, over a decade ago, a commitment to this was declared by the Czech government who prepared an investment plan for the construction of a new ecoduct. The Road and Motorways Directorate never developed this investment plan into a solid project.

A new impulse has come from Slovakia, where a new section of the D3 motorway to Poland (Svrčinovec-Skalité) is under construction, including a motorway exit to the Slovak stretch of I/11 road; the new exit will intersect important wildlife corridors. The project is co-funded by the European Commission and as such requires a detailed evaluation of the possible impact on large carnivores. The Slovak Ministry of Transport recognized that such evaluation would only make sense if the construction in Slovakia is assessed together with neighbouring Silesian area and it has initiated negotiations with its Czech partners: competent ministries and Friends of the Earth Czech Republic (Hnutí DUHA) who has been continuously working for the monitoring and protection of large carnivores.

Black-and-white image of a lynx

Promising first meeting

The first meeting between Czech and Slovak experts took place on 12 July 2017 in Jablunkov. The Slovak Ministry of Transport presented the D3 motorway project, including the new ecoduct which is to be built in the migration corridor near Svrčinovec with the expected completion date in October 2020.

Czech transport and environment ministries also re-confirmed the need for measures mitigating the impact of road infrastructure on wildlife but the implementation schedule and the source of funding for the construction of an ecoduct near Mosty u Jablunkova (Czech-Slovak border crossing) have not been specified. The Road and Motorway Directorate will update the investment plan and apply for a construction permit, it is clear, however, that the project preparation time on the Czech side of the border will be at least one or two years longer than on the Slovak side. The situation is further complicated by the requirement of the Czech State Forests to preserve the non-standard exit of a forest road to the first-class road 1/11 at the site of the planned ecoduct.

Despite the fact that there has not been much progress made in the Czech project over the past 8 years, the willingness of the Czech government to solve the imminent problem of landscape fragmentation is evident since the establishment of the international cooperation. Friends of the Earth Czech Republic (Hnutí DUHA) suggested expanding the scope of the working group to include more infrastructural projects along the Czech-Slovak border where roads intersect migration corridors of large mammals. For example, the road between Čadca and Žilina where the lynx cross to the Javorníky Mountains, or the D49 motorway where the Czech Ministry of Environment issued a negative opinion on the section planned through the Vizovice Hills. The crucial aspect of all projects aimed at improving the landscape permeability is to strengthen the protection of wildlife corridors against the construction development by the public acquisition of the neighbouring land.

The representative of the European Commission (DG Regio) also attended the meeting. He welcomed the creation of the working group and expressed his satisfaction with the negotiations. The next meeting is scheduled for September/October 2017.

Friends of the Earth Czech Republic (Hnutí DUHA) and the Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic are able to take part in the transboundary cooperation thanks to the international project TRANSGREEN, aimed at the development of environmentally-friendly road infrastructure and the monitoring of large mammals' behaviour in relation to linear structures. One of the first positive outcomes of the project is the confirmation of the Eurasian lynx in the Silesian Beskydy Mountains which underlines the need for the protection of landscape permeability in the Jablunkov Pass area.

MIROSLAV KUTAL

Volunteers planting trees in Jablunkov wildlife corridorIn addition to advocating wildlife-friendly solutions of traffic infrastructure, Friends of the Earth Czech Republic (Hnutí DUHA) also recognize the importance of landscape diversity along the migrating corridor and its attractiveness for wildlife (including large carnivores). Together with local people and the Jablunkov hunting association, Hnutí DUHA planted over 5,500 trees and shrubs in four areas comprising over 1 hectare.

 

 

Friends of the Earth are able to carry out projects on protection and monitoring of large carnivores thanks to generous support of individual donors – Friends of Large Carnivores. Please join us here.

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created by Michal Kandr