Name of the project area: VĂˇrpalota Military Training Ground, VeszprĂ©m County, Hungary
Surface area (ha): 13,318 ha
The existence of the military training area used by Soviet, Hungarian and NATO armed forces since the Second World War, so the area was already left out of most agricultural activities, thus serving as a refuge for several rare species such as Saker Falcons and Serratula lycopifolia.
The importance of project area for biodiversity is highlighted by the habitat types that occur on the project area: Sub-Pannonic steppic grasslands, Medio-European calcareous scree of hill and montane levels, Pannonic woods with Quercus pubescens, Pannonic woods with Quercus petraea and Carpinus betulus.
According to the Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora, all of these are â€žhabitats of community interest whose conservation requires the designation of special areas of conservationâ€ť. All habitats are listed as priority habitats types.
The project site is not currently under a horizontal environmental protection status. The area contains some natural objects (caves, springs and sinkholes) that are ex lege protected by national legislation (LIII. 1996). The project area is directly connected to HUBF 20001 and HUBF 20002 Natura 2000 sites, and by the projectâ€™s completion (Expected Summer 2012), the area will gain Natura 2000 status with the expansion of the aforementioned Natura sites. While the area does not yet have a protected status, several sections are closed to the general public due to Hungarian and NATO military activity at the shooting and training grounds of VĂˇrpalota.
The project area is owned by the state of Hungary under the trust of the Ministry of Defense. Some land management tasks (forest-, pasture- and game management) are carried out by HM VERGA Co. following the technical operation guidelines set by the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Management is also controlled by a supervisory authority established by the Ministry in accordance with the recommendations of other environmental protection, water, and military agencies.
Previous conservation efforts in the project area:
To protect the natural values and defence the species on the attached area Hungarian Ministry of Defence, NATO, HM VERGA Co. and Balaton National Park Directorate took steps to start the project.
Balaton National Park Directorate monitored and supervised carnivore bird species, surveillance of bird nests and nesting birds, mapping of ground squirrel settlements, surveillance of fish fauna of BĂˇta-stream.
Hungarian Ministry of Defence has prepared an inventory of natural values for the project area as a fulfillment of NATO obligations. However, the scope of this inventory did not contain quantitative information about the priority habitats and species of this project.
The HM Verga Co. to protect the grassland habitat has subcontracted grazing activity in the area as a conservation effort, however for a time period that has ended prior to the submission of this proposal.
The efforsts you can see above show well that they made strides to conserve the natural values of the project area, though the protection is required more than the rather limited, smaller scale previous conservation efforts. This underlines the necessity of a bigger scale conservation project involving utilization of best environmental practice which can only be achieved through the LIFE+ funding instrument.