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European Day of Parks 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012, Special release
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In Slovenia 12.5% of the territory is protected by various protection categories and 35.5% of the territory is protected within NATURA 2000.

In Slovenia as in the rest of Europe 24 May is celebrated as the European Day of Parks. The day was proclaimed in 1999 by the EUROPARC Federation to draw attention to the importance of protected areas for preserving the already impoverished biodiversity. In Slovenia the day is intended for raising awareness about the importance of protecting biodiversity and sustainable development in wider protected areas, since Slovenia is one of the countries with the highest level of nature preservation in Europe.

Slovenia – »European biotic park«

As regards biodiversity and landscape diversity, Slovenia is at the very top in the world; therefore, Slovenia can justly be called a “European biotic park”. More than 22,000 animal and plant species rank Slovenia among the nature richest countries in Europe. In a small space Slovenia offers an exceptional mosaic of biotic, landscape and cultural diversity and people who in constant contact with nature have become aware of the inevitable interdependence of humans and nature. Establishment of protected areas is among the most important mechanisms for preserving plant and animal species and their habitats.

Nature parks, which are predominantly a nature conservation category, are also a management mechanism for protecting nature, managing NATURA 2000 and preserving landscape diversity. Currently, 12.5% of Slovenia’s territory is protected by various protection categories, while 35.5% of its territory is protected within NATURA 2000. Protected areas partly overlap with NATURA 2000 protected areas; they cover a smaller area than NATURA 2000 areas, but have a higher level of organisation with elaborated management plans and managers.

Protected areas include one national park, three regional parks, 45 landscape parks, one strict nature reserve, 56 nature reserves and 1,217 nature monuments that are protected with national or municipal acts. The last protected area established in 2012 was the Radensko polje landscape park, while establishment of the Kamniško-Savinjske Alpe regional park is being prepared.

Around 70% of Slovenia’s NATURA 2000 area is covered by forest

NATURA 2000 is a European network of ecologically important areas that are determined on the basis of the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive. Slovenia has 109 species of birds from the Birds Directive as well as 61 types of habitats important for Europe and 140 species of plants and animals from the lists in the Habitats Directive. On this basis 26 areas for protecting endangered bird species were determined, which is 25% of Slovenia’s territory. In addition, 260 areas were proposed for protection of endangered or rare plant and animal species and habitats, which is 32% of Slovenia’s territory. Areas partly overlap, so total NATURA 2000 area covers just over 35% (7,202 km2) of Slovenia’s territory. Around 70% of Slovenia’s NATURA area is covered by forest, which shows that it is generally well preserved.

Forest ecosystems among the most important

In addition to playing an important ecological role, forests are also habitats of many plant and animal species, protect settlements and infrastructure, prevent landslides in mountainous areas and protect the quality of water. This is why forests are among the most important ecosystems. In addition, they play a vital role in maintaining stable climatic conditions and the situation in the environment. Forests and other wooded areas cover more than 40% of the EU. As regards Slovenia, in 2010 forests covered 59% of its territory. Enlargement of European forest areas exceeds the loss of forest areas on account of infrastructure and urban areas.

Most protected forest areas in Italy, Germany and Spain

In 2010 forests covered 42% of total EU area. Of all European forests, around 20 million hectares (13% of total EU-27 area) is in protected areas. The most extensive protected forest areas are located in Italy, Germany and Spain (in total more than 8 million hectares or almost 42% of total protected forest areas in the EU-27).

As regards the total area of protected forests, which are primarily intended for protection and preservation of biodiversity, and natural and cultural resources within protected areas, in 2010 Slovenia was ranked among EU Member States with less extensive protected forest areas: 241,000 hectares or 1% of total area of protected forest areas in the EU-27. In 2010 Slovenia had 9,600 hectares of forest reserves, which are left for natural development and are especially important for preserving biodiversity.

In 2010 land areas in the EU-27 which are in the Habitats Directive determined for preserving biodiversity covered almost 59 million hectares; in Slovenia 636,000 hectares or 1% of total protected land areas in the EU.

Slovenia has 69 autochthonous tree species, brown bears, wolves and lynxes

Forests are important for preserving biodiversity. In Slovene forests there are 69 autochthonous tree species. Our forests are habitats of many species of animals, some of them already endangered.

Due to the preservation of forests, Slovenia is among the few European countries in which all three large predators can be encountered in nature: brown bear, wolf and lynx. Forests are also habitats of many amphibians and mammals. In general, roe deer and wild boar are widespread in our country, while red deer and chamois are slightly less widespread. Red deer and chamois live in Julian and Kamnik Alps, in Karavanke and in some forest areas of Pohorje, while red deer also live in the subalpine world and in Prekmurje.

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