How could we not?
We live in a beautiful corner of the world, in green paradise called SLOVENIA – THE GREEN HEART OF EUROPE.
Forests in Slovenia covering 58.3% of the surface, which makes Slovenia the third most afforested country in the EU. So when you come here, take some time, and enjoy the smell of the pine trees or ferns, listen to the rustling of leaves playing in the wind or pick up some bilberries.
Slovenians feel a strong connection with the forest. This is also evident in the fact that one in four Slovenians is a forest-owner. Without forests, Slovenians can hardly imagine our past, present and future.
Because of the forest, Slovenia has clean drinking water and largely unpolluted air. Hiking in the forests keeps us healthy and in good physical shape. Forests which are in close vicinity of the cities are visited by large numbers of people, who find an escape from daily chores and trials of modern city-life. Forests provide shelter to numerous animal and plant species and are part of our natural and cultural heritage. Most Slovenians live in close connection to forests, we love wooden furniture, and forest fruits including chestnuts and mushrooms. Experiencing the forest supports healthy childhood development, and while spending time in the forest, children learn unforgettable life-lessons about nature and life. All too easily, we forget that forests protect our homes against floods and storms and that, in the past, they provided shelter against our enemies.
Nowadays, we observe rapid changes in the forest, which are often intentionally or unintentionally caused by human activities. The forest, however, isn’t well adapted to fast changes. A healthy forest is not something which can be taken for granted, even though Slovenian foresters have strived for this for over 300 years. When the catastrophic sleet-storm devastated the Slovenian forests in 2014, we realised how vulnerable the forests are. So we take even greater care of them, paying special attention to proper management and reforestation
Not only are forests are a source of wood and other materials, and places for recreation, but they also provide ecosystem services which contribute to the quality of our lives.
So, when you visit Slovenia, take a hike into one of our forests, enjoy the fresh air, the sun dappling the forest floor, pick up the forest fruit when in season and just recharge your batteries.
A paradise for biodiversity researchers – Slovenia is among the regions with above-average biodiversity with 26,000 known and an estimated total of 45,000–120,000 species.
There are 800 animal and 66 plant species endemic to Slovenia. The country’s special characteristic are forests, subterranean and surface water ecosystems, wetlands, the sea, alpine and mountainous areas, and dry grasslands.
Slovenia covers less than 0.004% of the Earth’s total surface area and 0.014 % of its total land area. However, more than 1% of all known species of all living organisms and more than 2% of all terrestrial species live in Slovenia. Such a large number on such a small area ranks the country among the naturally richest areas of Europe and even of the world, according to UN, (https://ipbes.net/global-assessment).
On a global scale, Slovenia boasts one of the largest subterranean biodiversities in the world (NB04). Most of the exclusively subterranean species are endemic. Water fauna with 200 species is the richest in global terms, while terrestrial fauna with 150 species is perhaps only surpassed by southern parts of the Dinaric karst. Five Slovenian cave systems are listed among the 20 richest in the world. The Postojna-Planina cave system with 50 aquatic species and 35 terrestrial species is by far the richest. The Cave Protection Act protects the subterranean environment as a whole.
We have the highest percentage of protected land, and NATURA 2000 designated areas among EU countries…
More than 50% of the land is protected and more than 30% is Natura 2000-designated, which is the highest percentage of the European Union member countries.
For almost three decades the European Union has been forming a network of specially protected areas, called Natura 2000. Its purpose is to preserve the biodiversity by protecting the natural habitats of plant and animal species, important for European Union. Slovenia, as well as every other member state, has to designate Natura 2000 areas and maintain them. It is up to individual member state to decide on the protection methods for Natura 2000 areas.
In Slovenia, the total area under Natura 2000 designation measures 7,681 km2, of that 7,675.5 km2 are on terrestrial and 5.5 km2 of marine environment. Natura 2000 areas cover 37.46% of the total area of Slovenia – 71% of those areas covered by forests. 29% of the Slovenian Natura 2000 areas are within the protected areas of Slovenia, which include one national park (Triglav national park), three regional parks (Inner Carniola, Škocjan Caves and Kozje Park), several (42) natural parks, and hundreds of natural monuments and monuments of designed nature.
Slovenia is a water-rich country with nearly 30,000 kilometres of watercourses, the highest percentage of surface area in Europe.
The ‘Right to clean drinking water for all citizens’ is written in the Constitution.
Slovenian drinking water is full of minerals that make it one of the best in the world.
Slovenia is a water-rich country and our potable water is of the incredible quality. No need for filters, purifiers or buying bottled water. Just enjoy it, straight from the tap. And that is not all.
In the northwest of Slovenia, natural mineral water containing carbon dioxide and rich in dissolved minerals rises from the Earth’s depths, protected from pollution. By consuming it, our body receives the right amount of calcium and magnesium. In Rogaška Slatina, the world’s most magnesium-rich water has its source. Drinking magnesium-rich water is proved to have a positive influence on digestion and excess stomach acid.
Do you believe that water is a living thing? The term ‘living water’ describes that water that has the same characteristics as the water in living creatures. It is also scientifically proven that living water contains as many as 89 percent of all the existing elements contained in the human body, thus it is appropriate for the efficient self-healing of the human organism. One of the few world’s sources of living water has been identified near Kamnik.
Under Mt. Olševa in the Karavanke Alps, another world-famous Slovenian mineral water has its source. This is iron water, which is extremely rich in iron, magnesium and potassium. The water is rather sour, and the rocks adjacent to the source are orange-brown due to the iron contents.
With an estimated 5% of the population keeping bees, we can easily say that Slovenia is A LAND OF HONEY. Furthermore, it was Slovenia that suggested to the UN to proclaim May 20 as the World’s Bee Day? Why that exact day, you wonder?
May 20 is the birthday of Anton Janša, who in the 18th century pioneered modern beekeeping techniques in his native Slovenia, and praised the bees for their ability to work so hard, while needing so little attention. In order to continuously raise awareness of the importance of bees, highlight the threats they face and their contribution to sustainable development, and to strengthen collaboration among stakeholders, the UN upon suggestion of Slovenia designated 20 May as World Bee Day.
Nowadays, bees are under severe direct or indirect threat by invasive insects, pesticides, land-use change and monocropping practices. But we need bees. They pollinate the majority of plants, including food crops, enabling them to reproduce. This is why bees directly contribute to food security, play a key role in conserving biodiversity, serve as sentinels for emergent environmental risks, signalling the health of local ecosystems.
The Slovenian beekeeping tradition is rich and deeply anchored in the popular consciousness. Slovenia is the home of the Carniolan honeybee (Apis mellifera carnica), known for its ability to defend itself successfully against insect pests, while at the same time being extremely gentle in its behaviour toward beekeepers. This indigenous subspecies is one of the most widespread honeybees in the world.
Sustainable and eco-friendly tourism and nature protection are national priorities. Not surprisingly, Slovenia was declared the world’s first green destination in 2016. How do we put words into actions? SLOVENIA GREEN certification system is the answer.
Green Scheme (GSST – Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism) is a national certification tool implemented under the Slovenia Green umbrella brand.
The certification invites both destinations and tourism services (as hotels, agencies…) to adopt the Green Destination Standards (GDS) of sustainability https://www.slovenia.info/en/business/green-scheme-of-slovenian-tourism. The GDS addresses fields like destination management, nature and landscape, climate and environment, tradition and culture, hospitality and business.
Up to now, 53 tourist destinations, 46 eco-accommodations, 4 national parks, 2 travel agencies and 1 attraction were certified, thus making Slovenia a leader in the field of sustainability in tourism among EU countries. Based on an assessment by the Netherlands-based organisation Green Destinations, 96% of all international sustainability criteria are met by Slovenia. You can read more in http://www.sloveniatimes.com/slovenia-declared-world-s-first-green-country.
Imagine a capital city with a city centre closed to motorised traffic, electric public transport in the pedestrian zone, free access to clean drinking water from public urban drinking fountains, a forest in the centre … All that and more is Ljubljana, the European Green Capital of 2016, the host of 2016 Global Green Destinations Day and one of the Top 100 Sustainable Destinations in 2014 and 2016.