Šumava National Park

Current settlement and land use

The departure of permanent inhabitants from the Šumava region led to a shortage of labour in agriculture, forestry and some of the processing industries. This depopulation also led to the missing workers being replaced by machinery, with direct and indirect impacts on the environment. These included changes in forestry management methods, consolidation of agricultural lands, higher concentrations of grazing animals, land drainage and fertilisation. Substantial parts of the landscape which were previously used for agriculture were left as unused plots and in the current landscape many overgrown plots can be seen where trees are gradually renaturalising the former agricultural areas (succession areas). Since the establishment of the National Park, agriculture and forestry methods on the territory have changed. Farming has become a means of maintaining the cultural landscape by way of breeding cattle for meat or producing hay and fodder. Forestry has become a tool for achieving more ecologically-stable forest ecosystems with the aim of leaving them to self-regulation processes.

In the 1940s and 1950s, Šumava was mostly used as a source of natural raw materials (timber, peat, agricultural products). However, from the 1960s onwards tourism has gained in importance (outside of the border zone and military areas) and many buildings have been converted from their original purpose to serve the tourist industry. In recent years (after 1989 and the opening of the border zones), recreational usage of the territory has grown enormously, and many more hotels and other buildings have appeared. The area’s infrastructure has grown - in the form of guest houses, restaurants, car parks, information centres, marked trails, themed nature trails and terrain information systems. The pressure to use the territory for sport and recreation is constantly increasing; this is true for both summer activities and winter sports.

At the end of the 20th century efforts were made to repopulate some parts of Šumava, including Prášily village. A population census was carried out in 1991 and at that time there were 36 settlements of various sizes within the Šumava NP, administered by 7 municipalities within the NP territory and 4 municipalities lying on the NP border. A total of 877 inhabitants lived in municipalities within the NP, giving a population density of less than 1.3 inhabitants per km². If we include the municipalities through which the NP border passes, the total number of inhabitants in 1991 was 2027.