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Monday, August 8, 2022

NGOs and the Levica party would destroy the Slovenian farmer

By: Sara Bertoncelj / Nova24tv

Slovenia is one of the first three European countries to have the most forest areas. It is also a fact that Slovenia is growing very fast, and agriculture is dying – but the facts have never stopped left-wing political parties from trying to turn the story in their favour and accuse the current government of something completely absurd. The Levica party emphasises that there is no ice, fire or pest that would cause such damage to Slovenian forests as the government of Janez Janša, which, according to them, wants to cut down a quarter of all state forests. The accusations were joined by non-governmental organisations Cyprus Slovenia, the Society for the Observation and Study of Birds of Slovenia, Focus, and Umanotera, which, in the light of the addendum to the state forest management contract, called on the government to stop procedures that would lead to mass deforestation, reports STA.

“In Slovenia, 1.2 million hectares are overgrown with forests. In 1946, 38 percent of the country was covered with forest, and today as much as 58 percent of the country. We have lost a lot of fertile land. Only some lands registered in the cadastre as agricultural are being cleaned. Every intervention is approved by the Forest Service,” Prime Minister Janez Janša recently responded to the Levica party’s accusations, saying that the government was determined “to leave devastation behind just before the end of its term”. The Prime Minister added in the note that Slovenia will increase food production. “We will support the Slovenian farmer even more. We will not allow people to go hungry because of the war in Ukraine or for other reasons. We call on the Levica and others from #KUL to help in this, instead of harassing,” Janša encouraged. According to the Levica, the government would cut down a quarter of all state forests, while the forestry profession would be excluded from decision-making processes. A superficial reader might have fallen for it if they had not added that they had already expressed their position on the government’s “anti-environmental” policy in a referendum on water. In the referendum on water, opponents of the proposed law completely turned the interpretation of the law upside down and adapted it to their attack on the current government.

The Government has instructed the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Food to conclude an addendum with the Slovenian State Forests (SiDG) to the contract on state forest management, according to which SiDG will cut down forest and remove wood on state-owned land, which is defined as agricultural in municipal spatial acts. After that, the ministry is supposed to transfer these lands to the Agricultural Land and Forests Fund. According to the Levica party and some media, it is said to be 60,000 hectares of forests or about a quarter of the state-owned forests, which the ministry denied. This afternoon, according to the announcements, the Minister of Agriculture Jože Podgoršek will also respond to these accusations. NGOs, which called on the government to stop all mass felling operations immediately, said in a press release that overgrowing could make sense if it made a significant contribution to raising food self-sufficiency, wherein, the interest of farmers in cultivating these areas must first be examined.

A year ago, when the amendment was discussed, the Ministry of Agriculture explained that the main purpose of the proposed changes was to prevent the spread of beetles from forest reserves to neighbouring economic forests, especially where farms are vitally dependent on forest income. Namely, the Ministry received calls from the owners of neighbouring plots of forest reserves and municipal administrations to regulate the issue of spreading beetles from forest reserves to the surrounding commercial forests and thus prevent economic and ecological damage to forest owners. The ministry explained at the time that the measures are planned only in the area of one hundred meters from the edge of the forest reserve, while they are not being implemented in the remaining area of the forest reserve, and all control trees remain in the forest, Delo reported.

Forests and wood are extremely important for Slovenia, as they cover almost 60 percent of the country

Last Friday in Trojane, Minister of Economic Development and Technology Zdravko Počivalšek, together with Director of the Directorate of Wood Science Danilo Rance and Director of Slovenian State Forests (SIDG) Robert Tomazin, took part in the Rejuvenate Slovenian Forests campaign organised by SIDG, and participants planted 10,000 trees. The Minister welcomed the Rejuvenate Slovenian Forests campaign, as it is important from the point of view of raising public awareness of the importance of forest richness and the usefulness of wood, and of the aging of forests that need to be rejuvenated. Rejuvenation enables them to perform their role of reducing greenhouse gas emissions or CO2 storage. He also pointed out the exemplary sustainable way of forest management: “The forestry profession in Slovenia preserves forests with the so-called selective management method and rejuvenation of forests in the affected areas. In many other parts of the world, forests are managed by invasive clearings.”

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