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» Categories of Protected Areas in Hungary » Protected Areas of National Importance » The history of designations for protection
The history of designations for protection


All over the world - just like in Hungary - the strict protection of the natural areas is realised by the declaration of protected status for them.

It was in 1939, when an area was declared protected in Hungary for the first time, that year the Minister of Agriculture - aligning the proposal of the National Nature Conservation Council - declared one part of the Great Forest of Debrecen (Debreceni Nagyerdő) protected.

The first declaration was quickly followed by many others, and the tendency did not fade during the war either; consequently until the end of the World War II some 200 nature conservation areas and natural relicts were designated and declared protected. In that time the coverage of the areas declared protected was little (a few acres only), that is to say that mainly parts of forests, forest clearings (e.g. Haláp forest clearing), pastures (e.g. the pasture at Győrszentiván) were designated. It was common that - due to their special size, their old age or a historic event relating to them - certain trees (e.g. the chestnut tree in Cák), alleys (e.g. the linden alley in Nagycenk) or group of trees (e.g. the group of oak trees in Buják) were declared protected. The designation of historic monuments (e.g. the castle ruins in Pákozd) and springs (e.g. spring in Vörösberény) was realized as well.

The declarations ceased for 5 years after World War II, and no further protected natural area was created between 1946 and 1949. The creation of the first landscape protection area was a milestone in the national nature conservation. The Tihany landscape protection area was put under protection by the National Nature Conservation Council in 1952. Afterwards the process of the creation of landscape protection areas stopped for a longer period; the next step being the creation of the Badacsony Landsacpe Protection Area.

In 1962 the National Nature Conservation Authority (OTvH) became the authorithy responsible for the designations. 135 areas were declared protected between 1950 and 1965, that is approximately 10,000 ha. It is important to mention that many of today's most important national parks and arboretums were put under protection during this period as well.

The first national park of Hungary, the Hortobágy National Park, was created by the OTvH decree No. 1850/1972 of the National Nature Conservation Authority. The process of declaring protected status got a new impetus in the early 70ies (1972). The OtvH created two other national parks until 1977: the Kiskunság National Park (OtvH decree No. 1880/1974) in 1974 and the Bükk National Park (OTvH decree No. 18/1976) in 1977. The number of the landscape protection areas grew to 21 until 1977.

From 1977 the National Authority for Environment and Nature Conservation was the authority responsible for the designations for 10 years. In this period - after the break that had lasted several years in the process of designations - mainly such protected natural areas were created that incorporated landscape assets as well. Another 15 landscape protection areas were created: among others the Pilis, the Őrség, the Börzsöny, the Buda and the Zemplén landscape protection areas.

The fourth national park of Hungary, the Aggtelek National Park (OTvH decree No 7/1984 on 12. December) was created by restructuring the Zemplén landscape protection area - designated for protection in 1978 - to a national park.

Another change was realised in the organization of the nature conservation in 1987, when the National Assembly set up the Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW) by merging the former National Nature Conservation Authority and the former National Water Authority. Consequently since 1987 designations are formulated in ministerial decrees. The Ministry of Environment and Water has created 7 new landscape protection areas and several significant nature conservation areas with a minor territory.

The Ministry for Environmental Protection existed and was in charge of the designations for three months in the summer of 1990. Even during this short period some protected natural areas were created (e.g. the Gödöllő Downs TK).

The following responsible organ, the Ministry of Environment an Regional Development (KTM) was operating for eight years during which period it established five new national parks beside the already existing four. The Fertő-Hanság National Park was created in 1991 (KTM decree No. 1991 on 09. February), the Duna-Dráva National Park in 1996 (KTM decree No. 7/1996 on 17. April), the Körös-Maros National Park (KTM decree No. 3/1997 on 08. January), the Balaton-felvidéki National Park (KTM decree No. 31/1997 on 23. September) and the Duna-Ipoly National Park (KTM decree No 37/1997 on 20 September) were inaugurated in 1997.

As the Act on nature conservation No. LIII. of 1996 came into effect, every bog and alkaline lake (qualified as nature conservation area) and every tumulus, earth fortification, spring, sink-hole (qualified as natural relicts) became protected natural areas of national interest.

During the six-year-long cycle of the first National Environmental Program (NKP 1997-2002) the proportion of the protected natural areas grew considerably. 9.2 % of the country's area - 9.9% including the registered, "ex lege" protected bogs - was under protection by 2002. The area of the national parks has grew the most. 10 national parks, 36 landscape protection areas, 147 nature conservation areas and 1 natural relict - all qualified as Protected natural areas of national significance protected by specific regulations - can currently (1 January 2006) be found in Hungary.

The procedure of declaring protected status

According to the Act on nature conservation No. LIII. of 1996 natural areas and other areas worthy of protection are declared protected in a decree
a) by the minister in case of areas of national significance,
b) by the local government in case of areas of local significance.

The minister declares the natural assets (e.g. wild organisms, communities) and the strictly protected natural areas protected or strictly protected in a decree. If the protection of a protected natural asset or area can be ensured only by special measures, then the natural asset, area or a part of it has to be declared protected (Tvt. 23§. (5)). On the strength of this law the natural zone of the national park, the core area of the biosphere reserve and the core area of the forest reserve have to be strictly protected (Tvt, 29.§ (4)).

Any person may propose the declaration of protected status. The preparations for declaring protected status shall be started ex officio.

The competenet national park directorate shall prepare the declaration of protected areas - except for protected areas of local importance. In the course of preparing protected areas of local importance, the local Town Manager or Chief Town Manager of the Municipality (hereafter jointly Town Manager) in charge of the process shall forward the documents justifying the protection of the area to the Directorate; he shall also apply to the Directorate for a statement whether it is intended to propose the area to protected status of national importance. (Act on naure conservation Article 25. paragraph 2).

Jurisdiction and activity

Currently 10 national parks are operating in Hungary, whose operational fields cover the whole country. The KvVM decree No. 29/2004 (on 25. December) as from 1 January 2005 separated the authority power and the handling power of the nature conservation; in conformity with which the scope of activities and the competencies separated as well. The authority power is exercised by the responsible Inspectorate for Environment, Nature and Water while the nature conservation handling remains the scope of the national park directorates.


Jurisdiction of the National Inspectorate for Environment, Nature and Water

Operational fields of the National Park Directorates

2017. 07. 12. Print page
©2005 A KvVM
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