Problematic forest protection stirs debates

Topical issue

Problematic forest protection stirs debates

05. 12. 2017 14:14

In the last 15 years Slovakia's national parks have lost approximately 12% of their forests. The High Tatras National Park lost the most; 165 sq km of forested area. This stems from the latest analysis done by the Environmental Policy Institute. The institute states that although we are losing a similar percentage of forests as to the neighbouring countries, however in Slovakia is the loss of forests is on average twice as high in the national parks. On the contrary, official data suggests that Slovakia's reforestation has been rising for a long time. In 2015, the forests covered 41% of the country's territory. The Institute writes in its analysis that this percentage just shows differences in methodology and understanding of what actually constitutes "a forest". Foresters understand a forest as being an area registered in the katastre, whereas the Global Forest Watch methodology is based on the definition of the forest as a larger area covered with trees as observed through satellite pictures.

Last week, the Agriculture ministry published a "National memorandum on forests", in which it plans to manage the public interest as well as the interests of the forest owners. This is, however, in slight disagreement with a similar memorandum released by the Environment ministry earlier this year. The main point of disagreement is that while the Agriculture ministry wants the foresters to continue in their protection work, the Environment ministry claims their work so far has been problematic at points and therefore should not be followed without changes.

The fact that forest preservation has become a public-wide issue is also due to the internet based campaign called "My sme les", or We are the forest, launched by environmentalists. To this date it has been signed by more than 62,000 people. "We want to achieve that National Parks are really protected, not only formally. In practice that means that around 5% of Slovakia should be strictly protected, without logging, hunting or hunting or construction," says one of the campaign leaders, environmentalist Erik Baláž.



Zuzana Botiková, Photo: TASR

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