Šumava, Czech Republic

Saving the wilderness of Šumava national park

Dagmar Kjučuková is a nurse with a passion for protecting the wilderness of Šumava national park on the Czech-German border. Realising that a firm grasp of the law would stand her in good stead for fighting threats to the forest, she studied the legal system in her spare time, and founded the local citizens’ association “Okrašlovací spolek Zdíkovska” 14 years ago with the aim of protecting Šumava from large-scale development projects which would level large swaths of the forest.

Šumava is the Czech Republic’s largest national park, and contains the largest wilderness zone in central Europe. At present, human intervention is almost entirely forbidden, making it a crucial habitat for endangered species such as the capercaillie and the lynx.

A surprising, but vital, battleground is the status and role of the indigenous bark beetle in the forest. While the species occurs naturally in spruce forests such as Šumava and is vital to ecosystems that thrive on dead wood, proposals in 2011 by the Czech government endorsed logging sections of the forest to prevent its spread.

Developers are also eager to move in, with the construction of ski infrastructure in sensitive areas mooted. These conflicts have raised a wider political debate on what the role of wilderness is in the Czech Republic, where it should be, and how, or if, it should be accessed.

Dagmar’s legal expertise allows her to involve herself in the political decision-making process on issues relating to Šumava national park, at both the national and EU levels. Currently, her focus is on species conservation, and she is currently working to ensure the government establishes a protected area for the capercaillie.

“I think that there is nothing more to say in these surroundings. You can just wonder, watch and be humbled by it all. One must act towards nature in such a way that you don’t harm it. And that is all.”DAGMAR KJUČUKOVÁ

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