Progress assessment on selected topics
Subsidies from 1st pillar of CAP (intensive agriculture) have a negative effect on biodiversity and Natura2000 qualifying species and habitat types in Slovenia. Agri-environmental measures are not obligatory on Natura2000 sites so farmers mostly decide not to participate in biodiversity schemes. Similarly, there is negative effect of subsidies from European Cohesion Fund which will (partly) finance the construction of 2700km of forest roads in 2011-2020 in Natura2000 sites. On the other hand, LIFE funds play a very positive role in nature conservation (see under “Major recent achievements).
In Slovenia, all sectorial plans (e.g. hunting, fishery, forestry) are also considered as Natura2000 management plans and are not assessed at all regarding their impact on Natura2000.
Environmental impact assessments (EIA) are financed by investors. Firms that conduct EIAs are interested in further business and often write positive reports to please the investors. Environment Protection Act foresees a system of licenses, a supervision committee and loss of license in case of unscrupulous work but these provisions are not implemented.
Slovenian legislation (Ur. l. RS 130/2004 and its amendments) lists plans that should be assessed at Natura2000 sites. This is in contradiction with Habitat Directive which specifically states that all plans and activities that might affect Natura2000 sites should be assessed (Art. 6 (3)) and not only some. We have an open infringement regarding SPAs (from 2007) and pSCIs (from 2012).
Majority of threats to Slovenian Natura2000 sites come from agriculture, infrastructure and energy. Slovenian Government already simplified some administrative procedures in 2012 to help investors realize their projects with less trouble and intends to simplify them further, which poses a serious threat to nature. For example, in Slovenia it is not obligatory to conduct an EIA or get nature-conservation consent when ploughing a qualifying Natura2000 habitat type (e.g. 6410 – Molinion caeruleae) or when intensifying it. Renewable sources of energy are highly promoted but often conflict the goals of Natura2000 sites at which they would be constructed (e.g. hydropower plants on SPA River Mura, wind turbines on SPA Sneznik – Pivka).
With the funds of LIFE project and national Water fund, the Skocjanski zatok Nature Reserve and SPA was restored. Populations of some species have increased (e.g. little bittern) and several new breeding species have appeared (e.g. common tern, little tern, black-winged stilt); the site now also being very important as a stop-over for migratory birds.
With LIFE funds the Iski morost Nature Reserve was created at Natura2000 site Ljubljansko barje, primarily for the corncrake. Its population has increased at the reserve but decreased in many other parts of this SPA. The reserve is mown very late, thus enabling the corncrake to safely fledge its young. Most of the rest of SPA is suspected to be a population sink for corncrake and several other meadow bird species (e.g. whinchat).
Successful management with LIFE and national funds has also resulted in increasing populations of qualifying species at the Secovlje saltpans Landscape Park (also Natura2000 site). This is the only breeding site for several species of birds (pied avocet, common shelduck) and holds largest national populations of others (little tern, black-winged stilt, Kentish plover).