What could we learn from Slovenia?

A study trip – lessons learnt

A populous delegation of experts participated in a study trip to Slovenia between the 21st and 23rd of September 2015. which is likely to bring the lessons learnt at our professional and ecological work to fruition. Co-workers of the Slovenian State Forestry Service put together a multi-faceted programme, demonstrating their district controlling and supervision system, their planning and silvicultural practices as well as key features to effective cooperation with private foresters and improvements to communication practices with the civil society through the updates of park forests.

They have fundamentally different regional, organizational and legislative settings. More than 60% of the country is covered by forests, of which 80% is being held privately (the size of an average forest property measures approximately 2, 3 acres). As clear cutting has been prohibited in 1949, they usually employ group or singular selection cutting nowadays. The Slovenian state forestry service is functioning under these farming conditions with a centralized system of planning, supervision and controlling.

A forester employed by the forestry services is usually responsible for a forest area of 3000 acres on average, being in charge of the district leadership and the planning tasks while putting the markings out together with the private forest owners. This centralized working method guarantees the continuous, professional treatment of forests on the one hand and a smooth cooperation on the other. Would conflicts occur between the owners and the professional staff or would they have differing goals in mind regarding production scope or methods, they would address the root of the problem and try to find a solution to it.

Due to the applied selection cutting in batches the forest treatment and tree usage of protected Natura 2000 forests does n’t differ substantially from regular farming areas.

The park forest surrounding Celje is a prime example on how to put ideas into practice what we Hungarians are only subject to debate.  Following the realization that the discrepancy between civil society and forest managers occurs due to a lack of knowledge they developed a perfectly reasonable action plan. The Municapality purchased the private forests around the city. The forestry service developed a network of demonstrative tourist trails where the background of every conflict is clarified with the help of concise signposts, often with illustrations (for example when they fell a dangerous tree and leave it there).

Every primary-and secondary school class is being taken to a set of fun educational stops along these trails by local foresters in order to teach them basics on the significance and functioning of forests. Through this they achieve that not only will the children be the ones teaching their parents at home about forestry, but that they will take them later to the forest park. Forest pedagogy on another level.

The main lesson learnt from this study trip has been the positive attitude of the Slovenian colleagues, their professionalism and vision. We also learned, of course, about their forestry methods, which we can use and adapt on domestic ecological and farming settings. There is a growing demand for it! Nevertheless the way they recognize their problems and construct consistent solutions from scratch, the way they make use of their assets is exemplary. If I could take one thing home from Slovenia, it would be the ability of recognition. The ability to recognize the potential in our profession and our environment. This perspective includes the aspiration to real solutions, be it the coordination of sectors, communication with civil society or simply the rethinking of farming methods.


Source (in Hungarian): www.oee.hu/hirek
Author, images: Márk Hajdú
News editor: László Nagy