Stop the destruction of mountain forests in the Western Carpathians!

Slovak Assembly of Conservationists and other undersigned organizations and individuals express deep concerns over the massive logging and forest road construction in the mountain forests of Slovakian Western Carpathians. The last remaining old-growth and natural forests are disappearing at an unprecedented rate even in the most important large-scale protected areas – in national parks.
With the destruction of forests, we also lose unique natural and cultural heritage. Excessive logging and rapid forest road construction increase the risk of floods and droughts, accelerates soil erosion and loss, contributes to rising CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, erodes the biodiversity, ravages the touristic potential and the emblematic landscape of the deep and wild West Carpathian mountain forests. Signs of the forest destruction are clearly visible and scientifically indisputable.
Just recently, large areas in the northern Slovakia were flooded due to vast clearcuts in the Low Tatra National Park. The population numbers of some protected species are critical due to large-scale logging and encroachment of timber transport infrastructure. Capercaillie, an indicator of healthy mountain forest ecosystems, is close to extinction in the Western Carpathians. Not surprisingly, the situation is seriously worrying for the public.
The Government of the Slovak Republic (SR) has ignored this problem for a long time. They have solved the problem neither on private nor on the public land. Regulation of the logging and forest road constructions in national parks remains only a fictitious option, mostly not enforceable either by a ban or more sustainably by the designation of strictly protected zones.
Responsibility for this enormous damage resulting from the destruction of our most valuable ecosystems lies with the Government of the SR and the ministries in charge, i. e. Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Environment of the SR. They have sufficient information on the consequences of extensive logging and all the tools to regulate it. The inaction of the government and ministries, therefore, raises concerns about which interests do they protect. Are these interests of all people and their constitutionally declared rights to a favourable environment, or the interests of a narrow group of people whose short-term profits are at the cost of long-term losses to the whole society?
We urge the government to take immediate effective steps to stop the destruction of mountain forests. The government should use the available legislative tools to stop the logging and construction of forest roads in the last remnants of the old-growth and natural forests, as well as in all the forests where the capercaillie has survived to prevent the extinction of this species in the Western Carpathians. The government should also make a commitment to increase the percentage of strictly protected areas to at least 5 % of the territory of the SR and to adopt the zoning of national parks according to internationally recognized criteria.
The well-designed non-intervention zones and combination of human use with biodiversity
protection through zoning are necessary prerequisites to achieve and maintain the minimum
standards of good management and governance of national parks. However, sufficient
international standards, as defined in the IUCN category II protected areas, must also be
enforced if we are to enjoy real national parks instead of “paperparks” in Slovakia.

August 2017, Bratislava, Slovak Republic

Ing. Erik Baláž
prof. RNDr. Mikuláš Huba, CSc.
Ing. Karol Kaliský
Bc. Viera Minarovičová
Ing. Ján Topercer, CSc.
Ing. Ľubica Trubíniová

Signed organizations:
Slovak Assembly of Conservationists – Ing. Erik Baláž
Živica, Centre of Environmental and Ethical Education – Mgr. Juraj Hipš
Centre of Environmental Activities, Trenčín – Mgr. Richard Medal
Center for Philanthropy, non-profit organization – Mgr. Marcel Zajac
Centre for Sustainable Alternatives – Ing. Daniel Lešinský, PhD.
Our Carpathians Initiative – Jakub Mrva, Marek Páva
Institute of Water Policy – RNDr. Elena Fatulová
Nature Guard Club – Mgr. Andrej Kovarik
Aevis Foundation – Rastislav Mičaník
Carpathians Biodiversity Conservation Foundation – RNDr. Peter Straka, PhD.
TATRY, civil association– Mgr. Rudolf Pado
PRALES, civil association – Ing. Martin Mikoláš, PhD.
Slovak Union of Nature and Landscape Protectors, Bratislava City Committee – Ing. Katarína
Slovak Union of Nature and Landscape Protectors, Basic Group Nr. 6 in Bratislava – MUDr.
Peter Tatár; Prof. RNDr. Mikuláš Huba, CSc.
SOSNA, civil association – Ing. Štefan Szabó, PhD.; RNDr. Silvia Szabóová
Society for Sustainable Living / SR – Mgr. Ján Szőllős, CSc.
Tilia, civil association, Rajec – RNDr. Eva Stanková, PhD.
WWF Slovakia – Mgr. Miroslava Plassmann, PhD.
PČOLA, Conservationists Association of North-East Slovakia – Eulalia Štefanová

Contact persons:
Ing. Ľubica Trubíniová,
Ing. Ján Topercer, CSc.,
Ing. Martin Mikoláš, PhD.,

Associated research articles:

  • MIKOLÁŠ, Martin, et al. Forest management impacts on capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) habitat distribution and connectivity in the Carpathians. Landscape Ecology, 2017, 32.1: 163-179.
  • MIKOLÁŠ, Martin, et al. Habitat conditions of the core population of the Western Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) in the Western Carpathians: Is there still place for the species in Slovakia? Sylvia, 2013, 49: 79–98.