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Country profiles: Slovak Republic
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1. Pressure on the environment

Slovakia has relatively large but uneven underground water reserves. This is due to its diverse and complicated geological structure and the uneven distribution of precipitations and river networks. According to data provided by Slovak Environmental Inspectorate (SIŽP), the main factors threatening water quality were: low working and technological discipline, transport and haulage, unsatisfactory facilities caused by insufficient maintenance.

Agriculture plays a relatively important role in the country's economy. Ploughed land prevails in the intensively used agricultural areas. The main Slovakian lowlands and lower parts of the Carpathian basins have been degraded into habitats of low biodiversity. During the last 40 years, many meadows and pastures have been converted into intensively managed grasslands. Over-fertilizing and the use of hybrid seed mixtures for restoration have changed the species composition of the grasslands. Transformation back to the species-rich meadows is problematic, particularly in mountain regions (GRID ENRIN).

2. State of the biota

With a forest cover of 40.8 percent (1 998 283 ha) the Slovak Republic is one of the European countries with the highest percentage of forest cover. 40-45 percent of the forest is semi-natural originating from natural regeneration and contains a species composition that is very similar to natural forests. This is quite unique for Slovakia and is not found in many other countries in Western and Central Europe. More than seventy fragments of natural and virgin forests with a total area of 18,000 - 20,000 ha still exist in Slovakia. Most of these areas are large enough to be considered as independent conservation units (GRID ENRIN).

At present Slovakian forests face two serious problems: large-scale deforestation and the gradual decline of the health of the forests mainly due to air pollution, a globally changing climate and inappropriate forests management (REC 1997).

Globally wetlands are among the most endangered ecosystems. One tenth of Slovakia's territory has been drained especially in lowland and riverside areas (mainly for the construction of water works, regulation of river flows and the exploitation of peat). This has caused the disappearance of wetlands and water ecosystems and has lead to the eradication of numerous organisms.

3. Response

The Strategy, Principles and Priorities of the State Environmental Policy (later renamed the National Environmental Policy or NEP) were approved in 1993. This document outlines Slovakia's environmental policy agenda until 2010 and includes a comprehensive legal platform for solving issues related to waste management, environmental impact assessment and the environment as a whole. (REC, 1997)

There are four biosphere reserves and five national parks in Slovakia.
The national parks are the following:

Tatras NP
Low Tatras NP
Slovensky raj (Slovak paradise) NP
Pieniny NP
Velka Fatra NP

4. Institutional background - links

Ministry of Environment
Slovak Environmental Agency
DAPHNE - Institute of Applied Ecology

Slovak Academy of Sciences
Institute of Botany
Institute of Forest Ecology
Institute of Landscape Ecology
Institute of Zoology


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© FAO   ::   Global Terrestrial Observing System - GTOS   ::   29 January 2003