The administration of forest lands within national parks owned by the state will fall under the Environment Ministry.
Parliament passed the amendment on December 14; 75 MPs out of 76 present MPs voted for it. The coalition passed the law without Sme Rodina. The amendment gained the support of Miroslav Kollár and Tomáš Valášek, former members of the Za Ľudí caucus. The reform could not be passed without them.
Environment Minister Ján Budaj said that the national parks have simply been moved into the 21st century.
"Protected areas in the fourth and fifth level of protection will fall under state nature protection, under the Environment Ministry. New legal entities will be created, protecting parks," Minister Budaj said, as quoted by the TASR newswire.
The key date is March 31, 2022, when administrations of the national parks will be established as individual organisations of environmental protection. They will manage state-owned movable and immovable property in national parks. The next day, April 1, the administration of the affected property will be delimited.
Who will be on the board?
MPs from several coalition parties had objections to the amendment voted in on Tuesday. Following the reopening of the debate, Parliament adopted an amendment which, according to György Gyimesi (OĽaNO), stated that the land of the unidentified owners would not be transferred to the national park administration. The law directly states the group of representatives who have the right to be on the national park board.
They should be a representative of the local government in whose territory the relevant national park is located. The group includes the Mountain Rescue Service, representatives of legal entities operating in environmental and landscape protection and forestry and tourism, and experts from scientific and professional organisations appointed and removed by the Ministry. The transfer of land under levels of protection lower than the fourth and fifth levels will occur only after the zoning of national parks has taken place.
Sme Rodina MP Jaroslav Karahuta criticised the proposed reform. He announced in advance that his party could not support the law. Among other things, he objected to the lack of farmers and private forest owners in some national parks.
According to the authors of the amendment, the main shortcoming is that the nature and landscape protection organisation, which was established for the purpose of providing care for specially protected parts of nature and landscape in Slovakia, does not directly manage land in these areas. It is inefficient for the state if two state organisations take care of the territory in the national park.