In the initial period of colonisation of the territory of today's Slovenia, people started clearing forests in the lowlands and on hillsides by means of the slash and burn method and hoe-farming. For long periods of time, large areas of less fertile, rocky and steep parts of the landscape were used as facilities for leaves and litter, while the high mountain regions were used for mountain pastures. As a consequence, the natural forest line was lowered.
Since 2008, the majority of deforestation has been a result of the construction of infrastructure facilities such as motorways, power lines, buildings and other facilities (stone quarries, landfills, refuse pits). In 2008 there has been an extraordinary increase in deforestation because of agriculture, such surfaces represent nearly half of the deforestated area. The majority of deforestation is approved; however, every year, a certain percentage (under 5%) is carried out without the authorization of responsible institutions.
In the Act on Forests, deforestation is defined as removal of all forest trees and other forest vegetation due to a change in intended use.
The manner of identifying deforestation areas is defined by the Rules on the forest management and silviculture plans. The inventory of deforestation was made based on evaluations and the planned range of spatial interventions (from planning and project documentation).
Slovenia Forest Service, 2009
|with concordance of SFS||ha||290.7||176.4||205.6||251||129.6||196.5||106.8||232.6||40||205.6|
|with concordance of SFS||ha||384.4||534||434.5||317.2||371|
In the draft National Forest Programme, the following policies have been adopted:
• To allow deforestation if it does not pose a vital threat to the ecological function of the forests or if the public interest outweighs the ecological significance of the forests.
In this spirit and based on the Act on Forests and the Forest Development Programme, the following guidelines relating to deforestation have been developed in the Forest Management Regional Plans (2001 – 2010):
• It is vital to prevent unauthorised deforestation for agricultural purposes in agricultural and urban landscapes
• It is especially necessary to prevent deforestation of the upper forest line.
• To regulate forest grazing and limit it to enclosed pastures if possible, and reactivate the (overgrown) pasture areas instead of clearing new ones. In the upper forest line areas, deforestation for pasture purposes is prohibited.
• Deforestation of overgrown pastures is allowed for the purpose of preserving the necessary pasture areas.
• In cooperation with agricultural professionals, the standards for deforestation of overgrown areas for agricultural purposes must be set. A detailed plan must be prepared for the deforestation areas. In agricultural areas, the ecologically indispensable parts of forests and individual trees must be preserved and the fragmentation of forest remnants must be prevented.
How was the indicator measured?
The data on deforestation were gathered from the annual reports of the Slovenia Forest Service (since 1999).
The method of determining the surface areas of deforestation is determined by the Regulation on the forest management and silviculture plans. The inventory of deforestation is made each year based on the evaluations and the planned scope of deforestation (from planning and project documentation). Fellings due to deforestation are documented according to the following causes: roads, other infrastructural facilities (power lines, gas pipelines, etc.), urban planning, agriculture, other.
Data for Slovenia:
• name of the original database: Annual reports of the Slovenia Forest Service
• institution acting as the administrator of the database: Slovenia Forest Service
• Description of the data source: Annual reports of the Slovenia Forest Service on forests
• Data are shown for the period: 1999 – 2007
o Slovenia Forest Service, Annual reports of the Slovenia Forest Service
o Slovenia Forest Service, forest management unit plan 2001-2010
o National Forest Programme, 2007
o Rules on the forest management and silviculture plans, Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia no. 5/1998 of 23-1-1998, pp. 256 – 282
o Rules amending the Rules on forest management and silviculture plans, Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia, no. 70/2006 of 6-7-2006, pp. 7293-7298
o Spatial Planning Act (SPA-1): Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia no. 110/2002 of 18-12-2002
o Global Forest Resources Assessment 2005, UN FAO, Department of Forestry, 2006
o Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000, UN FAO, Department of Forestry, 2001
In the territory of Slovenia, the earliest proofs of the presence of people date back to the Palaeolithic. In all subsequent periods, the entire territory was quite densely populated. The use of space for agricultural purposes, especially pasturing, demanded increasing amounts of deforestation of original forest vegetation. Due to soil and climate conditions, reflected in the low productivity of the agricultural areas, the tendency to deforest new areas was present for centuries. The constant deforestation brought about agrarian congestion in some areas, which reached its peak in the second half of the 19th century.
Since then, the area of forests in Slovenia has been constantly increasing, but despite this trend, we cannot be satisfied with the changing of forest areas. Forest areas are increasing in places where there are sufficient forests from the viewpoint of landscape variety and appearance. However, despite the forest preservation efforts, a lot of pressure is exerted on the forests in the areas with intensive agriculture and especially in suburban areas, gradually leading to deforestation of areas that already lack forests. (National Forest Programme)
Every year, the Slovenia Forest Service processes 750 to over 900 applications for approval of forest interventions. In 2006, 653 forest interventions were recorded in a total area of 240.19 ha, which slightly exceeds the average of previous periods (the average for the period 2001-2005 was 205.06 ha, and the average for the period 1995-2000 was 282.68 ha); however, this can hardly be considered a trend (positive or negative).
Since 2008, the majority of deforestation has been a result of the construction of infrastructure facilities such as motorways, power lines, buildings and other facilities (stone quarries, landfills, refuse pits). In 2008 there has been an extraordinary increase in deforestation because of agriculture, such surfaces represent nearly half of the deforestated area. The reason is a change of Law on Forests, which enables deforestation for agriculture purposes on the areas smaller the 0,5 ha, where the forest is not specially protected. In addition to that there was a change in the Decree on direct payments in agriculture, which extends the payments rights to cathegory 1800 - agriculture area covered with forest trees.
The scope of deforestation is quite extensive in some areas and its (negative) impact is large, especially considering the fact that deforestation for the purpose of urban planning and infrastructure has been carried out mainly in the forests that are in the direct vicinity of large towns. A relatively large number of outstanding forests were cleared due to infrastructure construction (motorways, electrical power lines).
Assessment of the trend
Generally speaking, deforestation represents a negligible portion of all forests. The largest percentage is due to urban planning and it will probably remain this way, because the trend of populating the suburban areas shall continue. The pressure on forests shall probably increase, which is why it shall become necessary to look for compromises and actively cooperate in spatial planning. At first sight, deforestation for the purpose of agriculture does not appear to be critical (considering the amount of overgrown areas), but a large percentage is carried out in agricultural and suburban landscape, where forests are insufficient already and their role is more important.
The surface area of deforestation for the purpose of waste dumps and cemeteries will probably increase. A special problem that may not stand out in scope, but has a significant impact on the environment and is growing rapidly, is deforestation for the purpose of stone quarries and sand pits (mining). This area shall have to be properly arranged in cooperation with other relevant authorities.