Founded on 1st January, 1975, the Kiskunság National Park is the second national park in Hungary. Its main mission is to preserve the centuries old coexistence of people and nature in the Danube-Tisza Interfluve. According to archaeological findings, there have been pastoral cultures in the region since the Late Copper Age (3rd-4th millennia BC), and later on the invading Hungarians as well as the Kuns kept on this lifestyle.
This unique lowland landscape may first seem homogeneous but it is a mixture of a variety of different habitats. Its present appearance is the result of the ever-changing natural environment, the effects of water and wind, and the footprint of human inhabitants.
In contrast to other national parks, the Kiskunság National Park is not a contiguous protected area but is a mosaic of nine distinct territories, representing all the characteristic natural values of the Kiskunság.
The Kiskunság National Park oversees several other protected areas in the region, including three landscape protection areas, 19 nature reserves and a biosphere reserve.
The authority of the National Park Directorate covers Bács-Kiskun County, the western part of Csongrád County and the southern part of Pest County.
The tasks of the National Park are moistly defined by Government Decree No. 71 of 2015 (III.30.) on the appointment of public administrative authorities responsible for environmental protection and nature conservation, but there are several other laws, too, assigning further tasks to the National Park.
The most important tasks of the National Park include the planning and execution of the maintenance of protected areas, planning researches, educating people on nature, and managing assets. It is among the fundamental aims to preserve the characteristic features and intactness of the landscape, to ensure the undisturbed survival of biodiversity and to protect water resources, forests, soils and other renewable resources, as well as our cultural values.
Management interventions explicitly aiming to preserve nature can be best realized in areas that are owned by the State and are assigned to the National Park for managing. However, we frequently need to cooperate with other land managing authorities (e.g. Water Resource Management or Forest Management), with private persons and municipalities to ensure the long-term survival of natural values. In areas that are not managed for nature conservation, the Hungarian State can apply official tools and compensation schemes to ensure the survival of natural values.
Under ideal circumstances, no intervention is needed to preserve natural values. In areas that have degraded as a consequence of human activity or developed as a result of such activities, active intervention, such as grazing or mowing, may be needed. Interventions are usually carried out by the employees of the National Park using our own machinery and livestock. Areas that have been completely destroyed or significantly degraded may need more intensive interventions, called habitat restoration (see e.g. in the Vesszős-szék, at the Big Lake of Tiszaalpár or in the Böddi-szék).
Interventions often aim to preserve threatened species (e.g. Great Bustard, Pedunculate Oak and Meadow Viper) instead of habitats. Species protection projects are designed to protect individual species, but usually contribute to the protection of other rare species, too.
Guarding and protection
Within the Kiskunság National Park, Park Rangers patrol protected areas. Their primary task is to guard protected areas, habitats and species and to prevent damage to natural values. They can enforce these with the official tools conservation managers possess, including on-the-spot fines, infraction proceedings and prosecution.
Nature conservation research
The diverse set of our tasks includes the collection of biotic data about natural values. The resulting data bases can be used to track changes in the condition of natural values. Other types of research include surveys, such as surveys to assess the base-line condition of areas, and problem-oriented researches, such as to determine the resources needed to selectively control invasive species.
Nature conservation research within the National Park is carried out by our employees, rangers, volunteers and, within the confines of various agreements, university research groups. Findings of researches are published in domestic or international peer-reviewed journals or other scientific outlets.
In the last five years, we sponsored more than 50 researches in the National Park that involved university students. Topics covered in research focussed on
- protected species (e.g. Meadow Viper, Great Bustard, European Roller, Mole-rat, Ground Squirrel, Sand Iris and Colchicum arenarium) and species groups (e.g. butterflies, dragonflies and reptiles);
- protected areas (e.g. Körös-éri Landscape Protection Area and Peszéradacs Meadows);
- hunting (e.g. the management of carnivores in protected areas and the damage by game in forests);
- water management (e.g. modelling floodplain water systems);
- soil science (e.g. the habitat requirements of Sand Iris);
- agriculture (e.g. the nature conservation implications of agricultural subsidies and the effects of agricultural activities on biodiversity and on social-economic systems);
- forest management (e.g. the natural recruitment of Pedunculate Oak).
Providing expert opinion
As part of the basic tasks, the National Park provides expert opinion about development ideas for areas of special importance and about other regional, county-level and local development ideas and comments on the county-level development plan as well as that of areas of special importance. The consent of the National Park is also needed for local construction regulations, urban development plans and the manuals and regulations for the outer appearance of built-up areas.
Other expert activities
Since 2005, the National Park has been providing nature conservation expert reports in administrative proceedings of conservation issues on the request of government agencies acting as conservation authorities or the recorder of settlements. The number of official requests varies from year to year but usually exceeds 200.
Within the confines of environmental education, we organize programmes (“forest schools” and workshops) mostly for children attending kindergarten, elementary school and high school. Children can learn about the natural values of certain areas during playful programmes and excursions and can also participate in handicraft workshops.
Providing information about natural values to the public is an inherent part of conservation management. The National Park maintains study trails, exhibitions and visitor centres, where visitors can learn about the natural values of particular areas and the everyday duties of conservationists. Besides the visitor centres, we offer countless information leaflets and maps to nature lovers. Guided tours are also available and represent an important component of our programmes; visitors can browse among them in our programme brochure or in the Programmes menu of our website.
Providing advice to various organizations and persons is getting a more and more frequent daily task of the National Park. The range of topics is very wide from assistance in filling out forms for applying agricultural subsidies to the professional preparations for establishing locally protected areas.