Agreement reached: old growth forests in Slovakia will not be touched
The agreement on the preservation of old growth forests is a result of year-long negotiations between the state enterprise and environmental organisations. Experts from PRALES had executed a national inventory of most preserved natural forests in Slovakia between 2009 and 2015 and identified altogether 10,583 ha of old growth forests. About a third of them are still not protected by the strictest protection (which is non-intervention) and therefore threatened by damage or destruction. This concerns 96 sites, such as Zamok in Male Karpaty, Drastvica in Stiavnicke vrchy, Skalnata in Lucanska Fatra, Chmelienec in the Low Tatras. Environmental organisations therefore prepared a joint proposal for protection of the old growth forests and conducted a series of meetings with the Slovak state forest enterprise which has not been entering these sites since 2011.
“We are aware of our social responsibility and are interested in preserving natural values for future generations. We will mark the identified localities in the field on our own costs and ensure their protection. At the same time, we give a public commitment not to perform any management activities in these sites,” said Marian Staník, general director of the state enterprise.
First reserves for protection of old growth forests in Slovakia were established at the end of 19th century with the aim to preserve precious examples of natural forests in their almost unaltered appearance. Later, the network of old growth forests reserves increased to enable research on natural evolution of forests. Currently, strict legal protection (5th degree of protection) is applied in 68% of old growth forests in Slovakia (7,313 ha). Commitment made by the state enterprise not to log in the identified old growth forests will increase this area to 9,500 ha, which means that 94% of all identified forests in Slovakia will be left for natural evolution.
“WWF appreciates the constructive approach of the state enterprise in the negotiations as well as the commitment not to log in the old growth forests of Slovakia identified by environmental organisations. This is a progress in ensuring a permanent and adequate protection of old growth forests in Slovakia“, stated Miroslava Plassmann, Country Head of WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme in Slovakia.
“It is good news for the conservation of biodiversity. For many organisms, old growth forests represent Noah's arks in a sea of more or less altered forests. It is also worth mentioning that the baseline for research of natural patterns in forest ecosystems will be enlarged. Though it is a small step in conservation of unique natural assets of Slovakia, it is indeed a step in good directionq“, stated Marián Jasík, expert of PRALES.
All concerned parties also agreed that it is necessary to review national network of protected areas in the future to ensure thorough protection of the most valuable sites.
More information on old growth forests in Slovakia may be found at www.pralesy.sk.