The first project meeting was organised in Zvolen (Slovakia) on 8-10 November 2016.  The project meeting sessions were accompanied by “Travellab”, an innovative format for cross-regional learning and knowledge transfer. It combines the conventional field excursion with round table discussions with local stakeholders and follow up sessions in order to better understand the local context and improve knowledge about current and alternative forest management models (FMMs) and their implementation.

During this event, more than forty ALTERFOR-researchers and non-academic partners visited the Slovak case study area “Podpoľanie”. They discussed advantages and disadvantages of currently used FMMs and alternative options with representatives of local forest enterprises, the National Forest Centre, the organisation “Poľana Protected Landscape Area” and the Slovak Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The primary function of the majority of the introduced FMMs in the case study area is wood supply, preferably through non-uniform shelterwood system and close to nature forestry. Exceptions are forests with the primary function of soil protection (approx. 9.6% of the case study area), water purification (approx. 6.7% of the case study area), and forests under nature conservation (no management, approx. 1.6% of the case study area).

In the next four years, the Slovak researchers will further explore management approaches that aim at providing the desired combination of environmental, economic, and social benefits considering uncertainties caused by climate change or the growing use of bioenergy.

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Case Study Area:

The Slovak case study area Podpoľanie is a largely forested land with a few agricultural areas. It is dominated by the massif of Poľana, one of the highest composite volcano in Central Europe. The examined area is covered by commercial forests and forests under nature protection, meadows, pastures, arable land and (non-forest) areas with woody vegetation.  In the northern part, beech and fir-beech forests prevail, while the south is characterized by oak-hornbeam forests.

Located in the middle of Slovakia, this area has a high unemployment rate. Farms have been operating small agricultural areas for centuries using traditional methods (not being collectivised during the socialist era unlike in many other regions).

The north part of the case study area is the Poľana Biosphere Reserve that joined the UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) in 1990. Biodiversity protection and sustainable management of game populations (esp. red deer) are just as important as water and soil management. The water reservoirs (Hriňova and Málinec) supply the surrounding regions with drinking water. The area is a popular recreational resource (e.g. hiking, cycling and ecotourism) as well. 

For detailed information on the case study area and applied FMMs please check the corresponding case study report.


What participants are saying about Travellab in Zvolen:

“Travellab in Zvolen was very valuable to get a better understanding about the case study area in Slovakia. It is a great approach to allow interaction with local stakeholders and to learn more about their perspectives on forest management.”

Dr. Nataly Jürges, ALTERFOR-project partner / Georg-August-University Göttingen, Germany

 “Providing new innovative approaches for forest management in a changing world is a big challenge for researchers and modellers, but even bigger for forest managers. The ALTERFOR project uses Travellab as an instrument to offer a platform for knowledge exchange between science and practice. Foresters and other forest-related stakeholders have expressed openly their opinions about the current challenges in forestry during the event in Slovakia. The ALTERFOR research partners could help to meet their expectations with professional advice."

Ing. Zuzana Sarvasova, PhD, Participant at the Travellab sessions in Zvolen / National Forest Centre - Forest Research Institute Zvolen