Slovenia: A green leader of the European Union

Slovenia has signed the Countdown 2010 Declaration to halt the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. Ministers Janez Podobnik and Iztok Jarc plan to use sustainable forest management as the key to this commitment

With nearly 60% forested area, Slovenia recognized the value of forests as a natural resource, not only in terms of wood production, but also for their ecological functions and their beauty. Modern “close-to-nature forest management” imitates the natural cycle in forests and the multi-purpose nature of the forests.

When the tiny country takes over the Presidency of the European Union in January 2008, it intends to use this experience to improve forest management in the entire region, and worldwide through the Convention on Biological Diversity’s programme of work on forests.

“It is a unique moment to have both the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food committing themselves to work together on the achievement of the 2010 biodiversity target in Slovenia,” said Tamas Marghescu, IUCN Regional Director for Europe. “This commitment should send a signal to other countries and to the international community for increased collaboration between the forest and biodiversity agendas.”

Heads of State from all EU Member States committed to halting biodiversity loss by 2010 at the EU Summit in Gothenburg in 2001. Countdown 2010 is a powerful network of active partners working together towards this target, with a secretariat hosted by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). Each partner commits additional efforts to tackle the causes of biodiversity loss.

The ceremony of Slovenia signing up to Countdown 2010 was followed by a multi-stakeholder meeting involving NGOs, local authorities, business and the government to build on the momentum created around the development of the Natura 2000 Operational Programme 2007-2013, with a clear focus on joint implementation in achieving the targets set out in the programme.

“This document provides an ambitious roadmap which can only be achieved by bringing together all sectors of society. Countdown 2010 is an ideal vehicle for furthering implementation and monitoring progress towards the target included in the Operational Programme”, said Sebastian Winkler, Head of Countdown 2010.

Biodiversity in Slovenia

The Karst areas (carbonate rocks) cover more than 40% of Slovenia. Approximately 10% of ferns and higher plants and 56% of vertebrates are endangered, including 64% of the 81 species of indigenous freshwater fish. The most threatened habitat types are wetlands in general, coastal and marine habitats, standing and running waters, subterranean habitats and dry and humid grasslands. At least nine breeds of indigenous domestic animals have been given the status of an endangered population. In-situ conservation, performed by leaving an area to natural processes, is restricted to small areas in Slovenia, with most biodiversity conservation goals achieved through sustainable land use, such as low-intensity farming in Kozjansko Park. Besides agriculture, forestry is the principal land use activity affecting biodiversity and is of enormous economic importance.

Protected Areas

Slovenia has established 47 National, Regional and Landscape Parks as well as Nature Reserves and Natural Monuments, which together account for 11.41% (Oct. 2006) of its total land area. Slovenia also has three marine protected areas, one World Heritage Site (Škocjanske jame), two MAB areas (Karst, the Julian Alps) and three Ramsar sites (Sečoveljske soline, Škocjanske jame, Cerkniško jezero z okolico). Forests in Slovenia cover 1, 213,424 ha and other wooded land 44,000 ha. This accounts for 59.8% of the country’s surface area.

In April 2004, 35.5% of Slovenian territory was proposed to be included in the Natura 2000 ecological network. Based on this proposal, an additional 5% of the territory is to be protected by 2008 and 10% by 2014. The under-representation of aquatic and marine ecosystems in protected areas was addressed through the creation of the Strunjanske Soline Landscape Park and the proposal to include a number of marine and inland water ecosystems in the Natura 2000 network.

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