Slovenia is a country of forests, which cover almost 60% of its surface. In percentage of forest cover, Slovenia comes in the third place in the European Union, after Sweden and Finland. Slovenians feel strongly connected with the forest. This is shown by the fact that one in four Slovenians is a forest-owner. Without forests, Slovenians can hardly imagine their past, present and future.
From the mountains, we have a view over the extensive Slovenian forests (photograph: Institute Symbiosis)
Most Slovenians can hardly imagine a life without forests. Because of the forest, Slovenia has clean drinking water and largely unpolluted air. Hiking in the forests keeps us healthy and in good physical shape. Forests which are in close vicinity of the cities are visited by large numbers of people, who find an escape from day-to-day chores and trials of modern city-life. Forests provide shelter to numerous animal and plant species and are part of our natural and cultural heritage. Most of us love wooden furniture, and forest products including chestnuts and mushrooms. Experiencing the forest is supporting healthy childhood development, and in the forest, children learn unforgettable life-lessons about nature and life. All too easily, we forget that forests protect our homes against floods and storms and that in the past they provided shelter against our enemies.
In 2014, an ice-storm devastated a large part of the Slovenian forests (Foto: Lado Kutnar)
After 130 years of a steadily increasing surface of forests, this is now largely stable. Currently, the pressure on the forest is increasing; increasingly we need the forest for livelihood, relaxation, recreation and other purposes. Due to this increased pressure, also conflicts of interest between different interest groups are increasing.
Nowadays, we observe rapid changes in the forest, which are often intentionally or unintentionally caused by human activities. The forest, however, isn’t well adapted to fast changes. When the catastrophic ice-storm devastated the Slovenian forests in 2014, we realised how vulnerable the forests are. A healthy forest is not something which can be taken for granted, even though Slovenian foresters have strived for this for over 300 years. In the wake of the ice-storm, increasing outbreaks of spruce bark-beetle continue to change the appearance of the forest and force us to re-think the strategies of forest conservation and use.
In addition to climate change, other global trends also impact the Slovenian forests. Among these are the introduction and spread of invasive alien species in Slovenian forests.
Japanese knotweed is overgrowing large surfaces of the lowland forests, where it prevents forest regeneration. (Foto: Zoran Grecs)
Text prepared by: Boris Rantaša and Jana Kus Veenvliet, january 2018;
Translation: Paul Veenvliet
As much as 58.3% of the surface of Slovenia is covered with woods. This makes Slovenia the third most afforested country in the European Union, after Sweden and Finland. the forest cover has changed throughout history. Originally, almost the entire surface of Slovenia has been covered with woods. By the end of the 19th century, this had fallen to 36% because of the demand for wood and land for pastures. Since then, the forest cover gradually increased again. By the end of the last century, The forests reached the current surface area and remained more or less unchanged since then.
Slovenian forests are characterized by a high proportion of private ownership. According to data from the Slovenian Forestry Institute, we have as many as 313,000 forest parcels, which are owned by as 461,000 forest owners.
Not only are forests are a source of wood and other material and places for recreation, but they also provide ecosystem services which contribute to the quality of our lives.