Measures for protecting endangered ecosystems

Project completed

Switzerland is financing two biodiversity projects in Slovakia for the protection of endangered ecosystems. One project is concerned with monitoring and researching forests, while the second aims to preserve and protect natural areas and habitats in the Slovak Carpathian mountains. The Swiss contribution to these two projects totals around CHF 4.2 million.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Slovakia
Protecting the environment
Biodiversity
Biodiversity
01.07.2011 - 31.12.2016
CHF 2'088'000

Note: the texts under all the headings, with the exception of 'Results achieved', describe the situation before the start of the project.

As a result of climate change and other environmental stress factors, many ecosystems such as forests, natural habitats and protected areas are under threat. However, as they serve as the basis for countless different life forms, these ecosystems fulfil a number of important functions. In many rural areas of Slovakia, large sections of the population work directly or indirectly in tourism or the timber industry. Forests and natural areas are therefore synonymous with jobs. As part of its contribution to reducing economic and social disparities in the enlarged European Union, Switzerland is supporting two projects in Slovakia to protect these areas.

Project 1: Monitoring and research of forest ecosystems

Complex data is required to assess as accurately as possible whether a forest has the ecological balance necessary to sustain itself. Gathering this data requires modern measuring instruments. However, these are expensive, and their use requires expertise. The "Monitoring and research of forest ecosystems" project helps Slovakia collect and process this data and aids with forestry planning. As a result, the relevant agencies and foresters will be able to assess the state of a forest, and if necessary make targeted interventions quickly and efficiently.

Modern and efficient digital aerial photography to protect forests

This project finances three specific and linked activities that will substantially improve monitoring and research in Slovakian forests:

  1. First, existing maps of Slovakian forests will be updated and their range extended. Sustainable cost-effective forest management is only possible with comprehensive and accurate three-dimensional maps.

  2. Monitoring will be carried out with the aid of the second project activity: the financing of modern technical equipment to produce cheaper, better quality digital terrain and surface models.

  3. Finally, the third project phase in collaboration with the Swiss partner, the Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), will provide training in the use of the new materials in a selected forest area plus knowledge transfer in the field of remote forest monitoring. The Swiss contribution to this project is just under CHF 2.1 million.

Project 2: Sustainable improvement of protected areas and natural habitats in the Carpathians

The goal of the second project, Development of nature conservation and of protected areas in the Slovak Carpathians, is to improve the protection and sustainable usage of natural areas and habitats in the Slovak Carpathians. This project will draw up guidelines for the future development of these areas and promote knowledge transfer. The local population will therefore benefit twice over: along with improving the environment, the tourism infrastructure will be strengthened. The Slovak Carpathians will consequently become more attractive as a tourist region and the local population will benefit from additional income opportunities.

Complementary measures for nature conservation – for the benefit of local people too

In specific terms, the project encompasses a number of complementary activities. The project will first of all define the existing categories and classifications of protected areas in the Carpathians more precisely. This is an important prerequisite for drawing up effective protection guidelines, which will be produced during a subsequent stage of the project. Finally, educational nature trails will be renewed, and films and other promotional material about the areas will be produced and distributed to national information and tourist centres.
 

Several of the natural areas are in poor condition and, as a result, have been removed from the list of ecosystems worth protecting. The project will therefore also create plans to regenerate these areas so they can be reinstated as natural habitats worthy of protection. Both Swiss and local organisations are participating in the project. Switzerland's contribution to this project is also just under CHF 2.1 million.

 

Thanks to the availability of a cutting-edge remote sensing technology, we will be far better equipped to address multiple challenges facing the forestry sector today and its contribution to the development and delivery of the policies of the government of Slovakia. The sophisticated technology will significantly enhance our capacity to assess the impact of climate change on the health and vitality of forest ecosystems, whilst improved planning procedures will provide direct benefits to forest owners, local communities and the national economy as a whole. Last but not least, improved public access to an enlarged pool of forest data will create preconditions for better governance and stewardship of forests, thereby benefiting all citizens of Slovakia. .

Milan Lalkovic,
Director General, National Forest Centre of the Slovak Republic