Latest World News

Slovakia’s forests are in danger of receding due to over-cutting


With winter approaching, and gas supplies from Russia dwindling, Slovaks looking for alternative ways to heat their homes are cutting down forests. Energy, which is in fact one at the crossroads of major gas supply routes in Europe, where Russian gas flows from Gazprom through the Prazerhud pipeline to the Czech Republic and Germany, and the country also exports gas through pipelines to Austria and Italy.

The importance of the site

Perhaps because of its strategic location in Europe, Slovakia has become one of the European Union countries most dependent on Russian gas and fossil fuels. Slovakia imports 85% of its natural gas from Russia, while Germany imports 65% of its gas from Russia, so it is no wonder that the people of Slovakia are deeply concerned about the looming energy crisis and reduced gas supplies from Russia.

With winter approaching, many are now turning to firewood, as the demand for it has nearly doubled. According to the Slovak Ministry of Agriculture, the demand for firewood almost doubled in September, compared to last year. Slovakia is not alone in this regard. Recently, the website Politico warned that European forests are facing a “very dark winter”, with many NGOs and scientists fearing that the high demand for firewood will lead to an increase in illegal logging.


In 2017, logging violations were recorded in more than half of the country’s territory. Slovakia has now taken steps to ensure better conservation of the forests, the most important of which is the new National Parks Act. This new legislation came into force in April and will limit logging in parks to a minimum. The European Union Commission recently noted that forest areas in Slovakia are growing, with forests now covering 41 percent of the country. The Slovak Ministry of Agriculture has pledged to protect the forests, and to monitor any attempts at illegal logging.

With a new system in place, authorities can trace where timber is being transported from Slovakia, and the Slovak police and forest and timber inspection authorities have joined forces to conduct more thorough inspections of trucks carrying timber. However, local media reported a slight increase in thefts. Environmental Police say some cases may be directly linked to employees of the state-owned company (Slovak Forest Corporation), which is managed by the Ministry of Agriculture.

In the past, the ministry has vehemently denied these allegations. The ministry says it has made major changes to the company’s management, to ensure transparency. However, many experts, including former Agriculture Minister Jan Mikowski, remain skeptical. Mikowski retired from office and from the main ruling party, Olano, in 2021, expressing concerns about transparency in the ministry.

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, environmentalists and agricultural experts in Slovakia agree that the high demand for fuelwood may not actually pose such a significant threat to the country’s forests. Ecologist Eric Palaz says that as long as the law is adhered to, the consequences will be minimal.

“But problems may arise in those areas where there are informal forests, such as arable land, or privately owned land,” Balaz said. “This is not covered by law, as many forests are also managed at the regional level, and it depends on How do mayors deal with this issue?

Slovak parliamentarian Martin Hojsek of the Renew Europe party agrees that it is not families that pose a threat to Slovakia’s forests. “The impact of using firewood in your home is not as large as that used in power plants or heating plants,” he said, adding, “Many heating plants still use wood and receive subsidies from the European Union, this is the real issue, the European Union should direct its money.” to another place.”


The Slovak Ministry of Agriculture regulates the amount of firewood that families can use from the forest. The maximum, at 12 cubic metres, is meant to ensure that there is enough for everyone. The ministry says demand is now declining, and most families have already collected enough firewood for themselves.

Energy expert Joseph Padida points out that there are more environmentally friendly alternatives. “If the family wants to think of an alternative type of heating, for example through a heat pump, they must first invest in renovating the house,” he says. Recently launched, to help reduce heating costs, another interesting option is the installation of solar panels for water heating, which in turn can be supported by the Green Home Program, funded by the European Union.

Slovakia lags behind many European countries, in terms of its use of renewable energy. The country currently aims to produce 19% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. The president of the Slovak Photovoltaic Industry Association, Jan Karaba, believes this goal should be more ambitious. “In its new plan, Slovakia should seek to produce 32% of its energy needs from renewable sources, and this goal is still achievable,” he said in a recent statement to the Slovak media. Slovakia has huge potential in this field, especially when it comes to solar and wind energy.

Even the EU Commission criticized Slovakia’s modest goals. In its latest report on climate action in EU member states, as of October 2021, the Commission stated that “Slovakia’s 2030 targets for primary and final energy consumption show low ambition”.

Slovakia lags behind many European countries in terms of its use of renewable energy, and the country currently aims to produce 19% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.

European forests are facing a “very dark winter”, with many NGOs and scientists fearing that the high demand for firewood will lead to an increase in illegal logging.