1. EVALUATION OF THE PRESENT SITUATION IN FORESTS
The general condition of forests in the Slovak Republic, as a whole, is positive. A comparison of forested land in 1920-1990 shows that forested land increased by more than 20 percent mainly due to afforestation of farmland and acreage adjustments of agricultural crop. Positive changes are recorded also in the categorization of forests. At present, managed forests represent approximately 76 percent of the total woodland area, with a marked increase in the area of protective forests (13 %). The area of specific-purpose forests also increased (11 %).
As to species, broadleaves prevail in forests in Slovakia (57 %) and conifers represent (43 %) of the forest inventory. The valuation of the long-term development of species composition shows that the existing composition is favourable and it is meaningful when considering the damage to forests caused by air pollution.
The age composition of forest stands in the total forested area is also quite favourable. Forest stands up to the age of 40 years represent 33 percent; 41-80 year-old trees about 43 percent; 81-120 year-old trees 19 percent; and the group over 120 years corresponds to approximately 5 percent. In comparison to the normal age structure, less represented are the first three states, then the ninth to twelfth. This fact is influenced by a high percentage of random (unplanned) forest harvesting (40-50 %). The age structure of forest stands substantially affects timber yields.
Therefore it may be concluded that until 2000 (2010) a decrease of timber cropping in Slovakia can be expected. Forestry management in the past decades aimed to reduce the area of deforested land, which dropped - as compared with 1950 - from 2 percent to 0.43 percent. This indicates that after the Second World War there was a massive reforestation of timber extracted areas, which also contributed to the general decrease in acreage of deforested land.
In comparison with 1950, Slovakia's timber resources in 1991 went up from 193.5 million m3 to 352.2 million m3. The timber-growing stock increased from 140 to 189 m3/ha.
Besides positive tendencies, also negative ones can be seen. The health condition of forests in the last decades has been markedly worsened. Rare, random cases of forest damage occurred on a large scale after 1985 and were identified as the first and fourth state of forest damage severity. In 1989 the forest tree injury of that severity represented 85 percent of all damage. Present monitoring reveals a relative halt in damage. However, regarding the climatic conditions of 1992-1993, further deterioration of forests in 2-5 years can be expected.
The analysis of forestry management demonstrated that, besides air pollution, inadequate forestry management - seeking exclusively economic yields - have a negative impact on forests. Tending of forest stands was not always correct and forest hygiene was neglected. Excessive timber extractions decimated forest stands and overly thinned timber-growing stocks.
Positive results were achieved in the mechanized large-scale nursery tree propagation. More than 110 million tree seedlings were produced. At present, it is necessary to devote more attention to the natural reproduction of forests, which is still not sufficiently utilized.
Priority of tenancy relations, declared by Forest Act No. 61/1977 of the Collection of Laws, led to the total state tenancy of all forests in Slovakia until 1991.
The following conclusions can be drawn from an analysis of the current situation:
- The present woodland area in Slovakia shows a positive trend. In the future it will be necessary to work out a project of gradual afforestation of farmland area unsuitable for agricultural purposes.
- The development of the ownership and tenancy rights after the Second World War resulted in limitation of rights of the owners and in a corresponding impact on the organization and management of forestry in Slovakia. The present equality of ownership rights to forests will induce changes in forestry's organizational structure, which can then be in agreement with the aims of the sector.
- Serious health conditions of forests indicates that forestry alone is not able to solve this problem; the active participation of the State is needed.
- Total timber-growing supplies and their distribution will permit corresponding consumption of stocks on the condition that timber harvesting will not increase or decrease in the following 20 years.
- Overall management and conservation of forests in Slovakia show, except for some positive results, also shortcomings that will have to be gradually overcome.
2. STRATEGIC AIMS OF FORESTRY AND THE STATE FORESTRY POLICY
The strategic aim of forestry in Slovakia is both conservation and augmentation of forests, which is identical with the aim of the State Forestry Policy of the Government of the Slovak Republic. This long-term goal is possible provided forestry development follows specific aims in accordance with the Principles of the State Forestry Policy in Slovakia.
The fundamental provisions concerning the fulfilment of strategic goals are focused on adoption of effective measures, including international obligations to substantially limit air pollution. This aim is directly linked with the maintenance and improvement of suitable and genetically valuable forest resources that are adequate to the location, particularly in highly damaged forest ecosystems.
An integral part of these intentions, as well as of the Principles of the State Forestry Policy, is the achievement of a consistent and economical forestry management. It pre-conditions a re-evaluation of existing procedures of tending and renewal of forests, reassessment of timber cropping, transportation and construction possibilities, better use of natural reproduction of forest stands and the overall ecology of forestry.
The equalization of ownership rights and the return of tenancy of forests to original owners represent a qualitatively new situation, where the correct forestry management procedures and protection of forest ecosystems as a component of the environment, have an immense importance. In realizing these tasks, it will be necessary to respect the specifics of the transitory period. A harmonization of the public welfare and productive functions of forests is important.
The profound changes regarding ownership of forests cannot be viewed as isolated from changes in the national economy. Therefore it is necessary to respect the long-term character of the production cycle and from the economic perspective carefully consider every decision to introduce new economic indicators or criteria. Particularly, the impact of different rent should be respected, as well as provisions for covering costs of operations secured by forestry, as these activities are done for public welfare.
These strategic aims are the basis for setting conceptual goals for the near future.
3. ECONOMIC REFORM AS A PART OF THE CONCEPTUAL AIMS
Economic reform aimed at Slovakia's transition to a market economy is understood in forestry as a reform of economic tools, solution of problems, which these tools can substantially influence.
From the conceptual viewpoint it will, first of all, concern the following issues:
- restitution of ownership rights and tenancy rights to the original owners (re-privatization of forests);
- privatization of forestry, of its selected activities and the ownership of means of production;
- organizational changes in forestry as one of the conditions for the realization of economic reform;
- formulation of legal economic rules and their application in forestry with regard to forestry management.
3.1 Reprivatization of forests
The status of forest ownership in Slovakia changed very markedly in the last four decades. The consequence was a preference for tenancy before ownership. This was legalized in the "right to use forest land for timber production and to use also other functions of forests" specified in the Forest Act from 1977. Equalization of owners' rights in 1990 prepared conditions for solution of this issue by the act on land ownership, land area arrangement, land offices, land resources and land communities. In spite of the fact that these laws define the framework for the solution of problems, their realization is very complicated because of a very specific development of forest ownership in the past. This means that procedures for reprivatization of forests are not possible within short periods of time.
Reprivatization concerns more than 700 000 ha of forest, which still might not be a final count. According to present statistics, approximately 10 000 ha of forest land have already been given to private owners, and almost 230 000 ha are in communal ownership.
With regard to the above, it will be necessary to adopt legislative, technical, financial and economic measures. Restitution of estates, resolving restitutional claims compensation and technical provisions, should be dealt with as soon as possible.
In connection with reprivatization of forests, it is necessary to also deal with a fundamental issue - land area allotment - in order to respect the wholeness of forest stands and prevent damaging divisions of homogeneous stands.
3.2 Privatization in forestry
The goal of privatization is to form a competitive environment and respect its specifics, not desocialization at any price. From a conceptual point of view, it does not mean to privatize woodland and forest stands owned by the Slovak Republic. Furthermore, the concept does not hold that privatization of forest property, and its immediate economic yields, should prevail over public welfare, but that the latter should be given preference.
On the other hand, this concept should not exclude an opportunity to privatize selected operations and operational units, depending on specific conditions.
Privatization of the Lesostav forest corporation is definitive and all possibilities to accelerate its privatization in the public tender should be accelerated.
3.3 The Slovak Forest Land Fund
The Slovak Forest Land Fund, as a legal entity, manages the state-owned forest land related to the restitution of houses, operational buildings and facilities adhering to forestry management. It manages the land of unidentified future owners and executes specific operations and activities in land distribution. Regarding the necessity of reprivatization and restitutional compensations, it is necessary to constitute organs of this Fund as soon as possible and to ensure its full operation.
There is a need to re-evaluate the existing missions of both the Slovak Land Resources Fund and the Slovak Forest Land Resources Fund and to adopt and apply measures regarding the activities of the two institutions. It is important to carefully evaluate specifics of management of woodland in possession of the Slovak Republic and to manage it directly without any additional authorities and complicated administrative relations.
4. CHANGES IN FORESTRY ECONOMICS
The transition from a centrally controlled forestry economy to a market one leads to meaningful economic changes which are the result of general principles of economic reform. However, because of the special characteristics of forestry - such as dependence on nature, impacts of location (altitude) - it is necessary to support the extra-production functions of forests as well as the forest role in maintaining landscape and environment.
Changed economic criteria require a conceptual re-evaluation of the system of granting governmental subsidies.
Because of the influence of the above specifics in forestry management, it is not possible to transform state forest corporations currently into private companies. These companies, regardless of wood price liberalization, will still remain dependent on state subsidies and tax reliefs for many reasons, e.g., maintenance of environmental equilibrium. Therefore, the Principles of the State Forestry Policy will have to be applied in the future.
Owing to changed ownership relations, commercial activities will be carried out by many legal entities and will undergo profound changes in market principles. During the contemporary transition period, wood trade will respect the principles of a licence policy, mainly in exports of raw wood.
It is necessary to elaborate principles of granting export/import licences for this commodity, depending on the actual situation at the wood market. Another issue would be to secure enough wood for heating in those locations where this kind of fuel is justified.
5. FORESTRY ORGANIZATION AND MANAGEMENT
The key role in proper forestry management is played by a functional organization of forestry operations. Regarding the ongoing privatization process and reprivatization of forests, it is essential to re-evaluate the existing organizational structure of state forest enterprises and to adjust it, after a detailed analysis, to the new conditions of various ownership forms.
Changes in a managerial system are unavoidable in budgetary and partially state-funded organizations. Due to privatisation, selected activities will need to be rationalized and changes adopted according to needs and aims of forestry management.
The Ministry, as a governmental body and a supervisor over forests, has an important role, particularly in implementing the Principles of the State Forestry Policy and supervising the realization of the concept goals.
In accordance with suggested principles, it is necessary to elaborate the concept of the system of authorities that would supervise the forests regardless of ownership relations. Granting ownership and tenancy rights to original eligible persons requires the perpetuation of a consistent management of one part of the forest stands in Slovakia. It means the working out of more detailed principles of the State Forestry Policy in relation to restitution claims, to the problem of allotment of the woodland into small lots, and the problem of providing tenancy of forests in favour of their owners. This will provide the necessary provisions for the modern management of forests.
There is a need for basic legal rules for the formation of associations of forest owners. Economic criteria for activation of operations in private forests are to be determined and conditions will have to be provided for the establishment of associations and unions of owners. Professional advisory service should be established and economic stimuli should support the implementation of the principle of using extracted timber and other forest products from private forests in wood processing in Slovakia; this should contribute to the reduction of unemployment in mountain and sub-mountain regions of the country.
6. FORESTRY STAFF
Present changes have an influence on the structure and number of employees in forestry management. Because of automation and initial technical and professional delays, productivity will decline in the near future. It may be concluded that a drastic dismissal of the forestry workforce is not an emergency. The labour market competition will stimulate a new situation which may have negative consequences and social impacts, at first, but will have to be relieved as much as possible thereafter.
Adequate remuneration of forestry workers and the provision for material conditions of the forestry staff, including compensation for social impacts of reprivatization of forests, should also be part of the conceptual aims. The specific problem is to achieve higher professional qualification and evaluation of professional skills of state management workers. Teaching programs and curricula of all types of forestry education for institutions need to be re-evaluated. The utilization of secondary vocational schools should be systematically evaluated as well.
7. GRADUAL AUGMENTATION OF FORESTS IN SLOVAKIA
7.1 Ecology in forestry
The present health status of forests - as well as existing forestry management, technology and emphasis on immediate economic returns - needs to be remedied. Effective measures aimed at prevention of disintegration of forest communities and deterioration of forest health conditions need to be adopted.
First of all, a regular and complex monitoring of forest land and forest stands should be effected. This measure should provide enough information on the present status of forest resources. It is assumed that a partial monitoring of forest ecosystems will become a part of an integral environmental monitoring. The realization of this task depends on an arrangement for obtaining the high-standard measuring devices, both stationary and mobile.
The saving and maintaining of a genetic bank of woody plants is an extraordinarily difficult task which has a direct link to reproduction of air-polluted forest stands. Provisions included in the concept are aimed at obtaining the adequate certified wooded stands, elite trees, larger seed tree orchards and clone archives. It is also necessary to secure qualified planting of vegetatively propagated seedlings.
Extensive forms of management of forest stands are employed at the area of 60-70 percent of reproduced stands. The machinery is not sufficiently adjusted to its use in forestry. Therefore, further action will have to include an improvement in technological work discipline, operations reassessment and it also should provide differentiated forestry management systems, limiting total deforesting felling to a minimum, and a higher degree of self-reproduction of forests. In the implementation of an economic program, the emphasis should be laid on environment-friendly forestry machinery, using lead-free fuels and ecologically safe oils.
A rapidly changing environmental situation results in a higher number and severity of calamities. The damage is synergized by various injurious factors. Damaged forests are less resistant to pests and diseases and incapable of natural reproduction. The extraordinarily high number of random (unplanned) timber extraction (40-50 %) requires the adoption of systemic measures. Special attention will have to be paid to reassessment of calamity liquidation and processing of forest litter and to a complex protection of forests.
Profound changes are expected in the construction of the forestry road system. Ecological criteria will already be implemented in the preparation and approval of projects, with emphasis on the construction of new access roads in virgin forest ecosystems. One of the conceptual goals is state support of easy access to private forests, maintenance of forests and technical ameliorations, as well as other buildings of public welfare built on the forest land.
7.2 Forestry management and protection of forests until the year 2000
Gradual improvement in forest conditions requires a set of provisions to be realized by forest managers. This improvement depends on the sector's economical possibilities and provided the priorities are determined in the individual forestry operations.
Forest seed tree production and nurseries have an important function in augmenting forests in Slovakia. They condition the continuous existence of forests and protection of the genetic resource of woody species. The concept prepares the realization of the forest tree breeding program, new forest seed production guidelines, as well as an efficient control of seed production and nursery practice. The present situation in nursery practice requires an optimization of nursing stock production as to provenience, species assortment and amounts needed for reproduction of private forests and afforestation of the farmland area.
It is inevitable to change the current nursing and tending procedures applied in forestry practice in order to achieve the primary conceptual goal - to plant sufficiently resistant forests with a suitable species composition using the maximal effect of the forests' natural reproduction. The procedures necessary to attain the goal will have to modify work operations, reassess operational goals in the air-polluted and otherwise damaged woodland. Also, the quality evaluation procedures in forestry operations and their timing, dependent on developmental stages of the forest stands, will have to be revalued. Regional forest regeneration projects will be initiated in those regions where the sources of pollution will be eliminated.
Afforestation of farmland and other land is a new task of the concept. It results from the need to update the original goal of the special program of augmentation of agriculture, forest and water resources management. It is necessary, until 2000, to afforestate the land that is not suitable for agricultural purposes. This change should bring benefits both to the owners and the country. The proposal of afforestation of land taken out of farming has a meaning also from the ecological, climatic and anti-erosion aspects. It contributes to the realization of the program of environmental stabilization. This project has to be elaborated into the conceptual version entitled, "The project of afforestation of non-farming land until 2000". It should also include the elaboration of economic and legal relations and postulate the pre-conditions for its realization (a sufficient amount of tree seedlings and funding for nursery operations).
Game management is a social and economic activity focused on maintenance, improvement and optimal utilization of the genetic resources of game. According to forestry concerns, a symbiosis of the forest and game life is desirable and its realization will result in modification of existing approaches to management of game resources, forest districts and hunting areas that cannot be at the expense of the deterioration of the health status of forests.
The conclusions of the analysis of a game inventory may prepare a good starting point for the application of environmental procedures for the protection of forest stands against damages caused by game. It entails taking provisions to protect both the genetic resource of game and forests.
Based on information from game keepers, special measures will be adopted, e.g., establishment of browsing forest stands for prevention of browsing damage in forests, elimination of game disturbing sources (noise) during the period of their mating and births. These measures should encourage the preparation of a proposal for a new act on game management.
Timber production and transport are of specific importance in the realization of productive functions of the forest.
As a consequence of the program to ecologize forestry, it will be necessary to markedly reduce deforesting, promote timber assortment methods, change methods of timber skidding and hauling, increase use of timber cable transport systems, which, however, require high costs. Damage-causing timber skidding will have to be reduced. Also a re-evaluation will have to be made of access road constructions; forestry principles have to be followed in planning, preparation and realization of timber cropping.
Replacement of means of production (fixed assets) is also a basic pre-condition in the development of economic activities in forestry management. An increase in construction and machinery investments is highly improbable; therefore it is necessary to elaborate a partial concept of replacement of basic means of production (fixed assets) in forestry until 2000.
This should focus on updating the accessibility of forests and the reconstruction of existing forest buildings. One of the conceptual aims requires attention to small water resources (brooks). Also more efficient maintenance and repairing of forestry machinery will be needed.
7.3 Forestry management
As has been noted, a changing environmental situation and transition of Slovakia to a market economy consequently increase the importance of forestry management. This is a guarantee of the ecological and balanced multi-functionality of the forest and emphasis on its public welfare functions, conservation and protection of the environment. This task requires the State's guarantee during the transitory period; this will help to implement one of the items of the Principles of the State Forestry Policy, which is to determine the duties of the owners according to forest management plans.
The conceptual aims are that these plans will be prepared by independent legal entities, different from those who will apply them in practice. The Lesoprojekt corporation in Zvolen will be in charge of the central supervision of the health conditions of forests, development of forest resources, coordination of forestry operations, preparation of forest management plans, compilation of the forest database indispensable for preparation and realization of the strategy and systemic development of forestry, and for realization of the goals of the forestry policy in Slovakia.
7.4 Forestry research
Forestry research is an integral part of forestry. In the past, as well as at present, it prepares the conditions for realization of principles of conservation, improvement and utilization of forest functions.
The strategic aim of forestry research is a methodological monitoring of forest conditions, and the investigation of physiological processes of woody plants and forest ecosystems. Forestry research will prepare and submit a project of provisions for forest conservation and revitalization; development of methodology of conservation and reproduction of genetic resources of woody species; modification of operations of the forest establishment, management and protection; as well as a proposal for environmentally acceptable forestry technologies, timber extraction and forest accessibility for the public. According to the concept, research activities will be aimed, through an elaboration of principles, at an ecologically oriented market economy and forestry policy - including its legal preparation and quantification of forestry yields.
7.5 Forestry and areas with nature preservation
The present period is characterized by marked changes in man's relationship to nature and its protection. A part of the environment is constantly damaged by human activities and this induces a need to protect the territories not yet seriously damaged. Special protective management systems originate for this reason and their aim is to conserve natural ecosystems and provide efficient protection. These have a consequent impact on the selection of forestry operations, particularly in the areas with protected nature. In this respect, national parks belong to a special class that have to be tended according to set rules. It is necessary to ensure decreased pollution in these territories and to harmonize public and private interests, including the possibility of compensating the owners for restrictions on forest management of the protected area.
An integral part of the systemic activities in forestry is the protection of wildlife, particularly of autochthonous animals. The management and operation of national parks is yet to be scheduled and, consequently, programs for national parks need to be worked out. Some positive experiences can be utilized from the Program Management of the High Tatras National Park in Slovakia (a part of the forestry policy ).
The proposed concept will need legislative back up for the special control in regard to rearing, hunting and protection of game reserves in national parks and large protected areas. Consequently this entails also dealing with the impacts of reduced or eliminated forestry management operations, and the economic situation of national parks and their relations to the state budget.
8. SUMMARY OF THE FORESTRY POLICY
- Forests located within the territory of the Slovak Republic are the national wealth. They represent a landscape-forming and ecologically-stabilizing element of this territory. The maintenance, protection and improvement of forests is a fundamental aim of Slovakia's forestry policy.
- Sustainable development of natural resources requires adoption of measures for the gradual reduction and elimination of impacts caused by human activities, particularly emissions from domestic and foreign sources of pollution.
- Public welfare functions of forests are irreplaceable and development of forests is in the interest of the State. Improvement of the production capacity of forests is in the interest of sustainable development of the wood processing industry and it represents a basic pre-condition for adequate economic yields and utilization of timber in Slovakia.
- The equality of the ownership relations to forests is guaranteed. All owners of forests are obliged to continually, carefully, professionally and timely tend forests, to apply forestry principles and the principles of protection of the land. These goals can be met by correct forest management systems.
- Public use of forests is regarded as an important democratic principle which makes it possible that every citizen enjoy the recreational and therapeutical stay in the forest.
- The Government of the Slovak Republic will allocate financial means (through the State Fund of Forests Augmentation in the SR) to ensure the reproduction and augmentation of forests in Slovakia and fulfilment of their public welfare functions, including the elimination of impacts of injurious factors on forests.
- Taking into consideration the existing health condition of forests in Slovakia, as well as fundamental changes in forestry management and protection, the Government of the Slovak Republic will provide pre-conditions for the development of forestry research focused on the solution of the most substantial problems of Slovak forestry, employing exact methods and efficient international cooperation.
- In the framework of the state forestry policy, the Slovak government will arrange conditions for the efficient state supervision over forests, which will secure permanent monitoring of the forest condition and the quality of forestry management and protection, regardless of the ownership of the forests.
- Relations between the public and the owners (or tenants) of forests are of key importance for the elimination of negative features in forestry management and changing biased attitudes to forest use. The Government will support activities of voluntary associations aimed at public information on the situation in forestry management in Slovakia, and it will also promote forestry through mass communication.
- It is necessary to create organizational and technical prerequisites for protection of forests against fire, regardless of ownership. Fire protection needs an allocation of financial means from the State Fund of Forests Augmentation in the Slovak Republic, mainly for prevention by aerial surveying, purchase of fire extinguishing equipment, fire signalling techniques for forestry organizations and units of fire protection.