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Harvesting of old growth forest Velky Bok

Logging of the site Velky bok once again diminished area of old growth forests in Slovakia. Further sites of  old growth forests have been severely damaged. FSC Slovakia identified 122 localities of old growth forests with area over 25 ha during years 2009 and 2010. Their total area, of just above 10 000 ha, represents less than 0, 5%  of the forested area in Slovakia. Despite of international commitments of Slovakia attempts to protect old growth forests effectively fail.

Old growth forest Velky Bok

Old growth forest Velky Bok, in the National Park Low Tatras before logging.

In the valley of Prasivy potok, in the massif of Velky bok, in the National Park Low Tatras spruce old growth forest was growing just recently. Here, it was preserved, probably thanks to its hard accessibility and scarcely salient rocks, in the height of 1 200 – 1 450 m above sea level, on the poor quartzite base. Individual blow down spruce trees were showing how extremely shallow is soil. Taken from this point of view dimensions of largest trees strike us as quite unbelievable.

clear cut, logging of  Velky Bok

Most of the old growth forest site Velky Bok was harvested during 2011 -2012. Nowadays, there is large scale clear cut  (photos taken on 31.12.2012).

We could not believe our eyes when visiting the site. Only fragment of the original old growth forest remained, most of it became large cleared areas.  Logging continued and felled trees were brought by cableway and subsequently dragged by tractors in the stream valley. Stream has changed into one muddy road. Seeing all this damage was disheartening”, describes situation Juraj Vysoky, director of FSC Slovakia.

Map of logging old growth forest Velky Bok

Ortophotomap, original border of old growth forest Velky Bok after mapping in 2010 is in red. Fragments of old growth forest as at 31.5.2012 after logging in green colour.

Except damaging of old growth forests Velky bok, in 2010 was by logging seriously damaged OGF Smrekovica and in 2011 OGF Chmelienec. All these 3 sites are in the management of State Forests of the Slovak Republic, branch Liptovsky Hrádok. Similarly, are threatened further old growth forests sites, especially the spruce ones, where paradoxically in the name of “saving spruce forests stands” from bark beetle, extensive logging has undergone.

FSC Slovakia is dealing with the topic of old growth forests in Slovakia intensively since 2009. “ We have considered cooperation with State Forests to be crucial right from the beginning. Despite of the repeated efforts initiated by FSC Slovakia result is only further damage of old growth forests. Instead of any constructive dialogue State Forests  only focus on doubting results of identified old growth forests realized by FSC Slovakia. We cannot consider this to be the best image of someone who is supposed to manage forests owned by the state. We would still like to believe that the attitude of the State Forests to the most precious parts of the Slovak forests would change one day” Marian Jasik, project team member of FSC Slovakia, says.

Site of old growth forests Velky bok is situated in the National Park Low Tatras and forms part of the NATURA 2000 area, Kráľovohoľské Nízke Tatry. Windfall in November 2004 caused  very significant disturbances of the forest ecosystems in national park. Almost 5000 ha of clearings created and this number is increasing daily. Over 250 new forest roads was build in the length of 125 km, building of further tens of roads 60 km long is planned.  On the area of over 2000 ha were applied insecticides from air, and on further thousands of hectares were insecticides applied from land. Logged was almost 20% of forests older than 120 years.

“Changes in the forested area in the National Park Low Tatras connected to the, so called accidental logging, describe best how  non-functional and how non-conceptual is management of the national parks in Slovakia. Just in a front of our eyes vast destruction and devastation of valuable nature areas is undergoing. Area of clearings is increasing, there are the number of forest fires, threats of flooding and erosion, the whole ecosystem collapse and old growth forests vanish. This all is a consequence of so called active management in connection with legal regulation, in a spirit to “help nature”, Ing. Michal Wiezik, PhD., prodean of Faculty of Ecology and Environment of Technical University in Zvolen says.

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