Tomorrow is World Wildlife Day
Emphasis is placed on the central role of forests, forest species and ecosystems for the livelihood of hundreds of millions of people worldwide, especially indigenous and local communities historically associated with wooded and forested areas. This is also in line with the United Nations goals for sustainable development and its broad commitments to poverty reduction, the sustainable use of resources, and land conservation. It is about promoting forest management models and practices for their long-term conservation, conserving habitats for wild flora and fauna, and the overall ecosystem that keeps us alive.
Almost 60 percent of Slovenia’s total area is covered with forests, of which almost one half is included in Natura 2000 sites. Forests cover as much as 70 percent of the total area of Natura 2000 sites; therefore, effective management of Natura 2000 sites in forest areas is extremely important, for maintaining both the favourable status of endangered animal and plant species, as well as their habitats and habitat types. Forests are home to as many as 48 (43 animal and 5 plant) species and 11 Natura 2000 habitat types.
In cooperation with the Slovenian Forest Service, the Slovenian Institute for Nature Protection and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food and other partners and stakeholders, we foster the preservation and improvement of the condition of important European species and habitat types through the Natura 2000 Site Management Programme. We also work closely with these organisations in the preparation of a new management programme for Natura 2000 sites for the period 2022-2028, which is being prepared within the integrated LIFE project for enhanced management of Natura 2000 in Slovenia. Special attention will have to be paid to forest species and habitat types whose conservation status is unfavourable.
Another important part of preserving biodiversity in forests is the protection of primeval and old-growth forests. Some narrowly specialised species, such as some birds, beetles, and mosses, live in such forests, which have never been encroached upon. The Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning is therefore devoting increasing attention to the protection of these forests, both through achieving a favourable conservation status for some species in Natura 2000 sites that are important on a European level and through efforts to preserve primeval forests and old-growth forests through conservation projects (e.g. LIFE Varstvo starih gozdov v Evropi).
The Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning also participates in discussions on this topic at the EU level, as the EU Biodiversity Strategy provides for strict protection of as much as 10% of the total EU land surface. In doing so, it will be important to identify, record, monitor and strictly protect all remaining primeval and old-growth forests in the EU. It will be important to do the same at the global level and to ensure that EU actions do not lead to deforestation in other regions of the world. Primeval and old-growth forests are the richest forest ecosystems, remove carbon from the atmosphere and store significant amounts thereof in its reserves.
World Wildlife Day will be celebrated in a virtual way involving the participation of representatives of UN Member States, UN System Organisations, civil society organisations, and the private sector. Everyone else is invited to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of forests and the wildlife in forests, and thus to promote forest conservation and biodiversity. Visit a nearby forest in a nature-friendly way, encourage your children and talk with them about forests; use the hashtags #ForestPeoplePlanet; #WorldWildlifeDay; # WWD2021 when posting on networks. Have a nice celebration!