From Iron Curtain to Lifeline for Nature

Streift im Nationalpark Böhmerwald noch umher: der Luchs.

© Christof Wermter

The 2014 EuroNatur Award goes to Czech nature conservationists


Press release, 26th September 2014

Radolfzell.  “The transformation of the Iron Curtain into a lifeline for Nature is the great vision that inspires the “European Green Belt” nature initiative. The contributions of Hnutí Duha, the Czech environmental and nature conservation initiative, are crucial to the realisation of this idea” as Christel Schroeder, president of EuroNatur Nature Conservation Trust, says in announcing the choice of the winner of the EuroNatur Award this year.

This year is the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain. On 8th October 2014  representatives of Hnutí Duha (Friends of the Earth, Czech republic) will be given the award for their outstanding services to the preservation of the European natural heritage. The particular focus will be on their efforts to conserve the unique natural landscapes along the German-Czech- Austrian border lands.

For more than twenty years the organisation has campaigned and worked for the protection of the Šumava National Park, as the Bohemian Forest is known in Czech. Taken together with the adjoining Bavarian National Park it represents one of the largest wilderness areas of Central Europe.
For decades the former no-man's land along the Iron Curtain allowed nature to develop virtually unhindered by human activity. But although on paper Šumava's precious habitats have been protected since 1991 as a National Park there are nevertheless clear threats to their survival. The most recent example is a parliamentary bill under discussion which
makes nonsense of the concept of a National Park. Among other proposals logging and hunting would be allowed on a permanent basis in great parts of the park and barriers to building developments would be removed.

“Nature Conservation still has a hard time making itself heard in the Czech Republic. Hnutí Duha is a significant force strengthening civil society both nationally and beyond the borders of the Republic” Christel Schroeder points out. Currently the organisation has managed to collect over 40 000 signatures calling for a bill on national parks in which the concept of a national park is clearly defined, supported by scientific insights and imbued with the spirit of nature conservation.

The petition was handed over to the petitions committee in parliament at a well publicized event at the beginning of September. The petitioners were able to achieve a first success in convincing the responsible member of parliament that nature conservation in the Bohemian Forest is of both national and international significance.

The Czech Parliament is expected to hold a debate on the bill in October. In the words of Christel Schroeder: “There will only be a future for a peaceful Europe if we provide for the protection of our European natural heritage. To create and foster peace is at the heart of the European Green Belt Initiative and Hnutí Duha is putting it into practice in an exemplary manner. Hnutí Duha speaks out in the interests of the natural treasures of the Bohemian Forest National Park, giving the forest a voice.”

Further information:

  • Press release of 10th July 2014   
  • Earlier award winners have been, among others, Dr. Ernst Paul Dörfler, Prof. Dr. Klaus Töpfer, Prinz Charles, Mikhail Gorbachev, Luc Hoffmann und Dr. Hans Bibelriether. The EuroNatur Award is an honorary award. It pays tribute to outstanding work for nature conservation. The EuroNatur Award for 2014 will be presented to Hnutí Duha on 8th October at 5 p.m. on the island of Mainau on Lake Constance. 
  • More on the European Green Belt Initiative
  • Šumava: The Bohemian Forest (in Czech, Šumava) is  a low mountain range of approx. 200 km length along the German-Czech-Austrian border. During the period of the Cold War the Iron Curtain ran through what is the Bohemian National Park today.
  • Hnutí Duha: (literally “The rainbow movement” or  Friends of the Earth, Czech Republic) is one of the leading  nature conservation organisations in the Czech Republic. Further focuses of the organisation are climate protection, renewable energy and environmental protection.

For further inquiry contact: EuroNatur, Konstanzer Straße 22, 78315 Radolfzell, Tel.: 07732 - 92 72 10, Fax: 07732 - 92 72 22,,, media contact: Katharina Grund, contact person: Gabriel Schwaderer

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