A smaller hotel or wellness centre can be built in Szigliget. Threats are circling the top beauty spot in Hungary.
Like many of the traditional villages along the shoreline of Lake Balaton, the largest lake in Central Europe and one of Hungary’s natural treasures, the village of Szigliget has, against the odds, stayed true to its heritage and maintained its historical integrity.
It’s larger than life fortress, breathtaking country-style homes and family-owned vineyards on the hilly scenery have remained authentic despite the world wars, many years of Communism, and Hungary’s economic transition.
Hungary’s largest real estate portal, despite the area’s need of protection, offers an area of nearly two and a half hectares in Szigliget for residential housing, a small hotel, a wellness or health centre, and a fishing paradise equipped with mobile huts.
Many of the lake’s shore settlements were already consumed by companies developing never before seen apartment complexes, leaving disturbed nature behind. The mayor fears the recent surge of construction.
“We don’t need huge buildings here or for the whole shoreline to be built upon. We have a beach and a marina, and we don’t need anything else,”The mayor of Szigliget, Daniel Balassa, told The Associated Press on the lakeshore.
The lake is nearly 80 kilometres long and has 200 kilometres of shoreline. The average depth is only about 3 meters. That particular combination makes it a perfect home to a delicate ecology for water life and various migratory birds.
Despite its plethora of excellent and fragile qualities, Hungary’s government views the lake exclusively as a potential goldmine for domestic and international tourism. In 2016, they labeled the area as a priority tourism development area.
According to the Hungarian Tourism Agency, 232 developmental and city-building projects have been undertaken in recent years.
“There is huge destruction of the environment. Trees are being cut and good quality reeds are disappearing, threatening the whole ecosystem,”Angela Badzso, co-chair of citizens’ action group Unity for the Balaton, told the AP.
The reeds serve many purposes, including but not limited to maintaining a healthy balance in the water and ensureing a vibrant habitat.
“As the reeds are disappearing, they are less able to filter Lake Balaton’s water. This is one of the reasons why algae growth is higher, and fish die,”Badzso says.
Zoltan Kun, an environmental protection expert stated that the destruction of the reed coverage threatens to throw the entire fragile and complex ecosystem into imbalance.
“The unfortunate truth in Hungary … is that we measure the success of development in the square meters of concrete, rather than the number of certain birds or square meters of reeds around the lake,”Kun said.
The government dissolved Hungary’s environmental protection ministry after Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his ruling Fidesz party took power around a decade ago.
In Kun’s opinion, that significantly disrupted the state’s ability to look after its natural resources.
The existing conservation regulations are often selectively enforced, Kun said, or involve fines only after the damage has already been done.
Chairman of the Lake Balaton Development Council and a governing party lawmaker, Istvan Boka, sticks to his opinion, that already in-function regulations are enough to prevent the destruction of the untouched parts of the “Hungarian sea”.
Recent developments, he says, “have all taken place on the shoreline that is already developed.”
Lake Balaton has remained an affordable destination for Hungarians of diverse economic backgrounds ever since tha socialist era. Luxury accommodation is on the rise now, and the plans are afoot, directed at wealthier tourists.
Mayor Balassa said that while the charm of Balaton and its surrounding makes growth and development unavoidable to some degree, it should be conducted on a more discreet scale that respects the area’s integrity. Balance is key.
Source: washingtonpost.com; nepszava.hu