Dark Sky Park

With the increase of urbanization, from the second half of the twentieth century, lightpollution on our planet multiplied. Because of this, we can find less and less places free of disturbing lights, with undisturbed starry sky and natural night landscape.

Initially, it was thought that light pollution was only a problem for professional and amateur astronomers, or the loss of the beautiful starry sky was a simple aesthetic issue.

Today, more and more people are realizing that wasteful lighting is a huge unnecessary expense, and  the production of energy spent on it is accelerating climate change. It is necessary to reduce light pollution, but not only for economic and environmental reasons, but also because the proliferation of artificial lighting is seriously damaging the wildlife that populates our environment. Orientation disturbances and collisions due to light pollution could result in the death of millions of migratory birds, even according to the most modest estimates. And the “uproar” of the nocturnal tranquility of the habitats triggers irreparable changes in the rhythm of life and in many other areas of life activity (e.g., feeding, reproduction, removal of insects from their habitat, etc.).

Thus, light pollution is incompatible with the fundamental function of protected areas because direct – but also diffuse – light disturbs many protected animal species’ (arthropods, amphibians, birds and bats, etc.) natural daily and seasonal cycles, life activities and habitat. In addition, this environmental load makes it impossible to preserve the night landscape, which is an integral part of the natural environment.

For curbing the above mentioned harmful processes a new program launched in the beginning of 2000s by the International Dark Sky Association with the participation of other organizations (UNESCO, IAU, IUCN). The bottom line is to create stary-sky (or dark-sky) parks around the world in areas where night-time light pollution is negligible and natural endowments can be preserved. Parks are established in existing protected areas (national parks, landscape protection areas, NATURA 2000 areas). There are currently three such parks in Hungary (in the order of establishment, the date of establishment in brackets): Zselic (2009), Hortobágy (2011) and Bükk (2017).

You can find more information about the Hortobágy Dark Sky Park here: (http://www.hnp.hu/en/szervezeti-egyseg/tourism/oldal/world-heritage-site-and-also-an-international-dark-sky-park).

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