Slovenia has an exceptionally rich nature with a very high level of biodiversity, both in terms of ecosystems and in terms of the plant and animal species in them. We have the highest proportion of Natura 2000 sites in the European Union, while 60% of our territory is forested. In Slovenia, we protect natural wealth, preserve the natural balance and the diversity of living organisms, and protect rare, valuable and famous natural phenomena, not only for us who live here today but also for our descendants.
Because of Slovenia’s geographic location at the crossroads of the Mediterranean, the Pannonian Plain, the Alps and the Dinaric Karst, the living and non-living components of the Slovenian natural environment are extremely diverse. Here you will find sea cliffs and dunes, precipitous rock faces and high waterfalls, gorges and rapids, rivers lazily meandering across plains, karst caves and abysses, intermittent lakes and saltmarshes. With diverse habitats comes great biodiversity: in Slovenia, you can admire vast forests, rare flowers, playful dolphins in the sea, flocks of birds, endemic animals in karst caves, and large carnivores such as the wolf, lynx and bear.
An important part of Slovenian nature is its living organisms: plants, animals and fungi. Nature protection mainly concerns itself with species in the wild. The biggest threat facing the most species in Slovenia is loss of habitat, for example the loss of wetlands that are home to frogs and other amphibians, hedges and tree hollows on farmland where numerous birds nest, or meadows where orchids bloom.
Why protect nature?
People are living beings and cannot survive without nature. Our very existence depends on it. Nature provides us with the air we breathe and the water we drink; we get our food, medicine and raw materials from nature. Wilderness protects us from severe winds and sudden floods, from drought, landslides and other natural disasters. A preserved, unspoiled natural environment is an invaluable heritage for future generations.
Because the world population is still growing and individuals require increasing amounts of food, raw materials, energy and space for our existence, human beings are becoming responsible for the sixth mass extinction of plant and animal species. Numerous plants and animals in Europe and Slovenia are endangered and the situation is deteriorating for many others. Some species are in danger of extinction; we must therefore take action – and we are taking action! Some plant and animal species are endemic only to Slovenia. For these we are especially responsible, as they are extremely vulnerable species, sensitive to reckless human activities affecting nature.
Protected areas in numbers
According to the Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Nature Conservation, protected areas and/or Natura 2000 sites cover 41.4% of Slovenian territory. National, regional and landscape parks and nature reserves and natural monuments (protected areas) cover 15.4% of the territory and Natura 2000 sites cover 37.5% (in some places they overlap, as many nature parks are at least in part Natura 2000 sites). (Read more: Natura 2000.)
Nature protection measures and organisation
It is most effective to protect nature on-site. Through various interventions and means of protection, the natural habitats of plants and animals are preserved and activities that would negatively affect them are prevented.
Key nature protection measures:
- protecting endangered plant and animal species, e.g. the yellow azalea, the lady’s slipper orchid, the olm and the greater mouse-eared bat, and their habitats;
- protecting exceptional natural areas such as nature parks, nature reserves and natural monuments;
- restricting and prohibiting harmful human activity such as destruction of wetlands, ploughing of wet meadows, construction in habitats of endangered plant and animal species, preventing bats from access to their breeding sites, and trade in endangered species.