- 5 Feb 2013 8:00 AM
At the award ceremony, Mr. Fazekas said that within the framework of the winning programme, the Association had established the Gerecse Nature Park, begun improving the water quality and preserving the natural treasures of the Öreg-tó ("Old Lake), and performed ecologically-minded improvements in the valley of the Által Brook. The Association's winning entry will represent Hungary in the Council of Europe's 2013 Landscape Award competition.
During the ceremony, the Gerecse Nature Park also received its official naming certificate from its founders. The Park was established by 29 settlements and 17 organisations, and is represented by the Által Brook Association.
Secretary László Musitz previously told Hungarian news agency MTI that the establishment of the nature park is aimed at facilitating the development of ecologically-minded cooperation between districts at a regional level, thus enabling sustainable and value-preserving landscape use and providing a unified image and marketing support for local products and services that are characteristic of the landscape.
The territory of the Gerecse Nature Park includes almost half of Komárom-Esztergom County, east of Tata on 76,611 hectares and including a population of some 162 thousand people. The nature park's territory includes almost 9 thousand hectares of nationally protected area and almost 40,000 hectares of Natura 2000 protected area.
The Gerecse is a relatively low-lying limestone and dolomite mountain range; its highest point is the 633 metre Gerecse. It is the second richest mountain range in Hungary after the Bükk and Bakony with respect to caves, of which cavers have discovered some 455. The central and western half of the mountain range has been part of the Gerecse Landscape Protection Area wince 1977, but almost all of the mountain range and its surrounding area are included among Natura 2000 special bird protection areas and priority and special nature protection areas.
The most common plant communities include sessile oak and calcareous downy oak forests, with beeches at higher altitudes, while the Gerecse landscape is mainly characterised by scree forests, St. Lucie cherry forests, sub-Mediterranean sloping steppes and open limestone grassland. While touring the mountain range one can stumble upon such valuable plant species as the Jovibarba, Doronicum hungaricum, plumed saw-wort, Martagon lily, Stipa tenuissima and the specially protected Pannonian fennel.
The area's wildlife is also extremely rich and is home to several specially protected species of bat such as the lesser horseshoe bat, Geoffrey's bat, Bechstein's bat and the barbastelle. The mountain range's nesting birds include several specially protected species, the most important of which are black stork, black kite, saker and peregrine falcon, short-toed snake eagle, white-tailed eagle, eastern imperial eagle, Eurasian eagle-owl, barn owl, white-backed woodpecker, grey-faced woodpecker, European bee-eater, collared flycatcher and rock bunting.
Species of amphibian include the European tree frog, the common toad, the agile frog and the European fire-bellied toad, as well as the Aesculapian snake and smooth snake, the European green lizard and the slow worm.