Environmentalists’ anger after Hungary cuts down EU-protected forest


Environmental group WWF has accused Hungarian authorities of illegally cutting down a forest protected by the European Union.

Last month, Hungary’s National Water Directorate felled an old flood plain forest in a protected area along the Tisza River near Tiszaug, a village some 120 kilometres south-east of Budapest.

Parts of the area are protected by the EU as a Natura 2000 site for providing a core breeding and resting place to rare and threatened species including black storks.

According to the WWF, flood plain forests — an area of land near the banks of a river prone to flooding — are among the most endangered habitat in Hungary with their surface having shrunk to less than 1% of what it was before river regulations came into force.

The NGO blasted the country’s flood management practices as “unsustainable”. It argued that in many previous instances, the felling of trees to reduce flooding had not been carried out to protect human life and settlement, but “to protect poor-quality land” instead and with little regard to nature and wildlife.

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