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CEE country profiles

General introduction to the CEE region

Although there are substantial differences in the state of the environment in different CEE countries some general similarities can be found due to the similar political and economical backgrounds. The political changes of 1989-1991 resulted in economic changes in the region which have had a great influence on environmental policy.

Land-use changes and a decline in industrial production are two of the major outcomes of these changes. Although there has been a considerable reduction in the emissions of pollutants, degradation of the environmental still continues. The two major environmental policies set by governments are air pollution control and the protection of water resources (reference).

Economic and land-ownership changes have caused the movement of a large number of people from the countryside to towns and cities. This has resulted in small fragmented areas of abandoned agricultural land which can be invaded by weeds and exotic species, which often also colonize natural habitats. The treatment of these areas can often be problematic for the local environmental protection agencies.

In recent years, extremely high and uneven precipitation in combination with the poor state of dams have caused major floods causing serious damage in the region. The soil erosion caused by forest felling in catchment areas of major rivers, the over-regulation of the rivers and the building up of floodplains have also contributed to these environmental disasters.

There are numerous protected areas and national parks in the CEE region, and their numbers have increased in the past decade due to new environmental policies. However, the designation of protected areas is not, unfortunately, a guarantee of their success because:

1. most protected areas are under heavy pressure, and in some cases their natural state declines due to both external threats and lack of management resources;

2. pressure from visitors is causing too big a strain on many protected areas, a great deal still remains to be done to make sure that park-based tourism is sustainable;

3. there is still considerable pressure to privatize state-owned land in protected areas in former communist countries;

4. more investment in the management and extension of protected areas is needed.

Further details for the four main countries of the CEE regional programme are available through the links below:

Additional details are also available from the CEE regional implementation plan report.


Hungarian Central Statistical Office (HCSO) 2000: Environmental Statistical Data of Hungary, Pomázi I. & Szabó E.(eds.): Environmental Indicators of Hungary 2000. Ministry for the Environment, Budapest, 2000

Nagyhazi, Gy.& Perjes, T. 1998: Requirements and Framework for Environment and Transport Telematics, Country Report: Hungary. Regional Environmental Center

Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC)

UNEP GRID ENRIN Biodiversity for Central and Eastern Europe web page


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© FAO   ::   Global Terrestrial Observing System - GTOS   ::   29 January 2003