Joint Statement of Commissioner for Fundamental Rights and Ombudsman for Future Generations on the Day of Birds and Trees

On the occasion of the Day of Birds and Trees, Commissioner for Fundamental Rights Dr Ákos Kozma and Deputy Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, Ombudsman for Future Generations Dr Gyula Bándi call attention to that the well-being of birds and trees is not only one of the key elements contributing to the operation of natural systems but it is also an indispensable factor ensuring the existence and harmony of humans. Pursuant to the Fundamental Law of Hungary, it is the responsibility of all of us to preserve them.

The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights and his Deputy pointed out in relation to the pandemic as early as in 2020 that gardens, parks and our forests significantly contribute to the preservation of our mental and physical health. This year, the importance of the flora and fauna, and especially that of trees and birds, which are the closest to humans, has come to the foreground even more, as a result of the restrictions introduced because of the state of danger.

Scientific research has attached great significance to the natural environment in the preservation of our physical and mental health, and bird song plays a central role in this. In the opinion of the President of the Hungarian Psychiatric Association (HPA), the 21st century is that of psychiatric disorders, the frequency of the occurrence of depression grew by 53 percent between 1990 and 2013. Several research projects are involved in finding out the reasons for this rise and the potential methods of treatment. The findings have shown that the risk of depression and other mental disorders is reduced by the effects of nature, as fresh air activates the human body, and the sounds, scents and colours of nature have a soothing effect. Even a short time spent in nature causes measurable improvement in our mental health.

The presence of trees and birds is vital for the mental health of humans, and especially in the period affected by the Covid pandemic, we could see how popular spots the natural environment within the settlements, or those on their borders had become. Although the fundamental effect exerted by our mental state on our physical health is not questioned any more these days, these positive impacts became clearly obvious, almost bare necessities for the population in this situation of crisis.

The protection of the right to a healthy environment, as well as to physical and mental health stipulated by the Fundamental Law of Hungary are the competence of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights and his Deputy, an integral part of which is the protection of biodiversity and habitats, and through these, the safeguarding of the complexity of the ecosystems constituted by birds and trees. In addition to this, the importance of the provisions set out in Article P) of the Fundamental Law of Hungary cannot be stressed enough, i.e. that biodiversity, in particular, native plant and animal species shall form the common heritage of the nation; it shall be the obligation of everyone to protect and maintain them, and to preserve them for future generations.

It is partly because of this that it is of utmost importance to protect the trees, forest belts, groves and bushy areas suitable for the nesting of birds in our environment, including our own gardens, and we should take good care of our native bird stock. In the nesting period, all kinds of environmental nuisances exert a directly detrimental effect on the bird population native in the area in question, so the felling of a tree that acts as a habitat for a nesting bird may be fatal in this sensitive period. Special attention should be paid to all this not only by the State but also, by all citizens, farmers, foresters and public utility companies.

Let us take care of our natural environment, as nature also takes care of us once we give it the chance.