Matecna: Bark Beetles and Wind Most Harmful Factors in Forests

Agriculture Minister Gabriela Matecna at an international conference devoted to current issues in forest protection in Novy Smokovec (Presov region) on January 26, 2017 (photo by TASR)

High Tatras, January 26 (TASR) – Slovak forests are significantly troubled by strong winds and bark beetles, stated Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Gabriela Matecna (a Slovak National Party/SNS nominee) at a briefing in the High Tatra mountains on Thursday as part of an international conference devoted to current issues in forest protection.

Matecna added that such an intense infestation of forest pests in Slovakia hasn’t been observed in the past 55 years.

“Harmful elements in forests have more and more of a pervasive nature, which leads to the decay of large areas of forest,” said Matecna, adding that forest care must be based on facts, expert skills and the broad experience of Slovak forestry, which is widely recognised at the European level.

The reason why wind and bark beetles have become the most significant negative factors in Slovak forests is partly due to the strong windstorms that have taken place over the past 55 years (in 1964, 2004 and 2014). While after the windstorm in 1964, a bark beetle infestation was avoided thanks to constant interventions by foresters, following the 2004 and 2014 windstorms the beetle infestations were extremely severe. Moreover, it was very dry in central Europe in 2015, allowing the spruce bark beetle to multiply. As a result, there’s been a sharp increase in the number of trees designated for salvage logging since the beginning of 2016.

“It’s up to us to manage together to make our forests healthier and to protect the values that we’ve received from our fathers and that we want to bequeath to our children,” said Matecna.

The agriculture minister further stated that 2017 has been declared the Year of Forest Protection in Slovakia. So, foresters will focus on promoting forests not only to students at schools, but also to the general public during the course of the year.