Celebration of biodiversity in our geographically exceptionally diverse country
Four important days dedicated to nature conservation will be celebrated shortly, i.e. World Bee Day (20 May), European Natura 2000 Day (21 May), International Day for Biological Diversity (22 May) and European Day of Parks (24 May).
Protected areas cover a total of 14 per cent of Slovenia’s territory. These areas include one national park, three regional and 47 landscape parks which are considered large protected areas, one strict nature reserve, 56 nature reserves, 1,161 natural monuments and 114 monuments of designed nature, which are considered small protected areas. Plants, animals and their habitats are protected in these areas where it is possible to experience an abundance of biodiversity in our geographically exceptionally diverse country. Protected areas are managed in such a way that the experiences they provide are nature-friendly and authentic for visitors.
Slovenia established its protected areas on the basis of the national legislation on nature conservation, EU directives (Natura 2000) and ratified international treaties (Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage). Large protected areas and certain small ones are managed by state or municipal public institutions, concessionaires or public utility units. Their most important task is to protect animal and plant species, habitat types, valuable natural features and landscape by means of protection measures. They also regulate the number of visitors and raise public awareness. Supervision over the observance of prescribed regimes is implemented by professional or voluntary nature conservation supervisors.
20 May: World Bee Day
The numbers and diversity of pollinators are declining. There is no food security without pollinator diversity as at least half of the pollination in agriculture is done by wild pollinators. But pollinators are not only an important link in food, they also play a major role in biodiversity and nature conservation. The most important habitat of pollinators are biodiverse, colourful and flowering meadows, i.e. meadows that are mowed once late in the season or no more than twice. To this end, we support the implementation of eleven major Natura projects funded from European cohesion policy sources. These improve the condition of meadows important for nature conservation in the Natura 2000 sites by means of important work on the ground.
This will be the sixth year in which the attention of the entire world will focus on bees and other pollinators at least for one day. On 20 December 2017, the United Nations General Assembly declared 20 May World Bee Day at the initiative of Slovenia. A lot of attention is paid in Slovenia to the native honeybee, but many people are unaware that more than 570 wild bee species live in Slovenia in addition to the Carniolan honey bee. Other important pollinators include hover flies, butterflies, certain beetles and wasps. The integrated LIFE project to strengthen the governance of Natura 2000 is also intended to improve the management of the Natura 2000 sites. These efforts will have to be enhanced and upgraded in terms of ensuring continuous monitoring, improving the state of habitats and raising awareness of the importance of pollinators if we actually want to preserve the diversity of pollinators and, consequently, healthier and more resilient ecosystems.
21 May: European Natura 2000 Day – "Celebrate Natura 2000 Day: go out and discover one of our protected areas"
The day of the largest nature conservation network in the world is celebrated on 21 May in all EU member states. On 21 May 1992, the LIFE programme and the EU Habitats Directive were adopted. Together with the Birds Directive, the latter became the basis for the European network of protected areas, Natura 2000.
The establishment of the Natura 2000 network was one of the major measures for the preservation of biodiversity and plays an important role in the conservation of nature and ecosystem services provided by nature (e.g. reduction of air pollution, provision of drinking water, soil erosion control). Funds from various European sources are earmarked for projects aimed at preserving these areas. The opportunities for various sectors represent the projects for specific actions on the ground to improve the condition of target animal and plant species and restoration of habitats (e.g. creation of meadows, restoration of watercourses). Communication activities are also supported, including the installation of infrastructure for visitors (natural science educational paths and information centres), which improves the tourist offer of the area. Preserved or restored areas of nature provide visitors with an array of possibilities for recreation, relaxation and inspiration, while educational institutions are enabled to carry out outdoor classes (guided tours, educational paths). Interventions and various activities are possible at the Natura 2000 sites, but the applicable legislation has to be observed when doing so and appropriate consents or permits must be obtained when this is required.
Natura 2000 is the European social commitment to protect nature. The European Natura 2000 Day is being celebrated for the tenth time in 2023. This year’s slogan, "Celebrate Natura 2000 Day: go out and discover one of our protected areas", invites us to explore Slovenia’s exceptional natural features by visiting one of our protected areas. Slovenia is the place where the Alpine, Pannonian, Dinaric and Mediterranean worlds meet, which means that we were gifted an incredible diversity of animal and plant species and their habitats.
22 May: International Day for Biological Diversity 2023 – Build Back Biodiversity
Numerous projects co-financed by the EU, the European Economic Area and national funds are implemented in Slovenia, which contribute to the preservation and improvement of the status of species and habitats. Since 2004, more than 90 projects referring to the Natura 2000 management have been carried out in Slovenia. In particular, these include projects from the LIFE programme, the Cohesion Policy and the Interreg cross-border cooperation. In addition to preserving or improving the condition of target animal and plant species and restoring habitats, the objectives encompass communication and educational activities, strengthening of knowledge, connectivity and sustainable development of protected areas.
More than 15 large projects intended to maintain and improve the status of species and habitats are currently underway at more than 70 Natura 2000 sites in Slovenia, which combine more than 50 organisations. These include local communities, regional development agencies, private institutes, research institutions, ministries, managers of protected areas and others.
One of the largest nature conservation projects in Slovenia, the LIFE integrated project for enhanced management of Natura 2000 in Slovenia (LIFE-IP NATURA.SI), has been managed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Spatial Planning since 2018 in cooperation with 14 partners from the fields of nature protection, forestry, agriculture and water management. The basic purpose of the project is to contribute to better Natura 2000 management in Slovenia by way of cooperation between various sectors and stakeholders. In addition to the improvements at the national level, the project partners also carry out specific actions on the ground at eight Natura 2000 sites, such as prevention of overgrowth, removal of invasive alien species, restoration and maintenance of a favourable status of water bodies and others.
The Convention on Biological Diversity was adopted in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) declared 22 May International Day for Biological Diversity to commemorate the entry into force of the relevant Convention. This year’s theme refers to the 15th Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 15), which took place in Montreal where the Global Biodiversity Framework by 2030 was adopted. Among the key targets, the Framework determines at least 30 per cent conservation of land and sea, particularly those important for biodiversity and at least 30 per cent restoration of degraded land, inland water, coastal and marine ecosystems by 2030. As per the Framework, urgent measures will have to be taken to halt the extinction of known threatened species and reduce the spread and mitigate the impacts of invasive alien species on biodiversity while reducing the rates of their introduction by at least 50 per cent by 2030. It was recognised at the global level that cooperation at all levels is crucial for the future.
24 May: European Day of Parks 2023 "Building on our Roots" and establishment of a new landscape park
In April 2023, the Government adopted the decree by means of which it determined the area of Češeniške and Prevojske gmajne, which extends over an area of 411.36 hectares, as Češeniško Prevojske gmajne Landscape Park. The landscape park is situated in the Ljubljana Basin, east of Radomlje, and includes parts of the municipalities of Domžale and Lukovica. It is one of the last major remnants of naturally preserved dense lowland forest in the Ljubljana Basin, which also includes small wetland ecosystems.
Protected areas in Slovenia are integrated in the Community of Nature Parks of Slovenia. The European Day of Parks was upgraded with the Week of Nature Parks of Slovenia, which has been taking place this year from Friday, 19 May to Sunday, 28 May. Visit them, as they have organised numerous events for all visitors who want to know more about nature. Slovenian nature parks are certainly exceptional locations that offer a diverse range of experiences linked to nature.
Visit the website of the Community of Nature Parks of Slovenia and see what activities they have prepared for you as they invite you to visit them.
The European Day of Parks is a commemorative day for protected areas across Europe that was launched in 1999 by the EUROPARC Federation to celebrate protected areas throughout Europe. Nature parks, referred to as large protected areas in the Slovenian Nature Conservation Act, include national, regional and landscape parks. They are protected by the state, a municipality or the state and municipality together and special protection regimes and prohibitions apply in them.
Be it an animal, a plant or inanimate nature we want to preserve them where and as they are, which is why we protect their habitats as they are crucial for their survival in the future as well. This year’s slogan says, "Building on our Roots" and we invite everyone to explore the natural and cultural heritage being protected in these areas.