Slovenia country briefing - The European environment — state and outlook 2015

Briefing Published 18 Feb 2015 Last modified 11 May 2020
7 min read
Photo: © Mirci

Main themes and sectors addressed in the national State of Environment report

Slovenia's Environmental Indicator Report 2014[1] is the latest national report on the country's environmental issues and is also the basis for the State of Environment report[3], which is due to be published in 2015 according to the Environmental Protection Act[4].

The most relevant indicators in the report are summarised in the web-based system Environmental indicators in Slovenia[2], which is continuously updated.

The report is based on the DPSIR framework, taking into consideration the economic, social and environmental perspective. Every chapter has a summary in which the basic facts are presented along with an indication on how the environmental issues are interlinked. Every indicator has a short key message,  trend-assessment sign, graph, description of the topic, and link to the relevant indicators in the system.

The main themes are Air quality and Climate change, Water, Land and Nature, Natural resources and Waste, supplemented by Health, Transport, Energy, Agriculture and some other indicators related to environment.

Key findings of the State of Environment report 

Air quality

Figure 1: Exposure of 0-15 year old children to PM10 concentrations in the ambient air

Figure 1: Exposure of children (0-15 years of age) to higher PM10 concentrations in the ambient air (the PM10 limit value is 20 µg/m3 for human health protection and 40 µg/m for the environment protection); Source: Database on hospital treatments, National Institute of Public Health, 2013; Automatic Air Quality Measurement Database (DMKZ), Slovenian Environment Agency, 2013

Note: The PM10 WHO air quality guideline for the annual mean is 20 µg/m3, while the EU limit value is set to 40 µg/m3.

Source: Database on hospital treatments, National Institute of Public Health, 2013; Automatic Air Quality Measurement Database (DMKZ), Slovenian Environment Agency, 2013.

Road traffic and domestic heating using wood in outdated appliances followed by power generation, industry, and agriculture are the main sources of air pollution. Particulate matter and ozone are the major environmental and health problem. Recent health studies have confirmed links between air pollution from particulate matter PM10 and the development of asthma in children. Children in Slovenia (0-15 years of age) are on average exposed to PM10 annual concentrations of 30–40 µg/m3, which is above the level recommended by the WHO (Fig. 1). Measures to improve the air quality are aimed at enhancing efficiency in the transport and energy (including buildings) sectors.

Freight and passenger transport volumes are increasing. Emissions from the road transit traffic are causing most concern. As Slovenia is located at the crossroad of the fifth and tenth corridor, between SE and W Europe a lot of goods are passing through Slovenia. Increase was significant after Romania and Croatia became an EU member.

Climate change

The average annual temperature increase in Slovenia is greater than the global average. A cause for even greater concern is the change in seasonal precipitation patterns. The number of hot days is increasing, and the precipitation regime is changing. This may cause the Triglav glacier to completely disappear in the next few years. 

In Slovenia, the use of fossil fuels in the energy sector, households, industry and transport accounts for more than three quarters of all greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to climate change mitigation, adaptation to changing climate is also necessary. 


Slovenia is rich in water, but water resources are vulnerable and distributed unevenly. Slovenia uses only a small portion of available water run-off for human use (about 3%).  Approximately 15 billion m3 of water flows out of Slovenia through rivers every year, but long-term trends show that this volume is falling. Because of the country's headwater position and the torrential character of the majority of water courses, the flow rate varies greatly during the year, with a lack of water in the vegetative period and large quantities of water - or even floods - during the other periods of the year. The annual groundwater recharge also varies considerably.

Figure 2: Chemical status of groundwater bodies in 2012

Chemical status of groundwater bodies in 2012; Source: Water Quality Monitoring Database, Environment Agency of the Republic of Slovenia, 2013

Groundwater is the main source of drinking water in Slovenia. Most groundwater bodies had a good chemical status in 2012 (Fig. 2). Water protection areas cover 17% of Slovenia's land area, and nearly one third of these water protection areas is agricultural land. The intensity of agricultural production in Slovenia has been moderately increasing in the last two decades. However, the excess of nitrogen from fertilisers and the use of phytopharmaceuticals have been declining in last decade. The percentage of people whose waste water is treated in municipal waste-water treatment plants has increased considerably, but it is still only 55%. The majority of surface water bodies have good chemical status and slightly more than half also have good ecological status.

Land and nature

Diverse land cover, and land use with interweaving forest, agricultural and built-up areas are characteristic of Slovenia. Forests cover more than one half of the surface area, and built-up areas slightly less than 3%, according to CORINE Land Cover data. However, the share of built-up areas has been constantly increasing.

Slovenia's biotic wealth is reflected in the habitat types and species of European importance. Natura 2000 sites amount to 7 683 km2 or 37.9% of Slovenia's land area. Nearly half of Slovenia's habitat types and 28% of its species have favorable conservation status.

The effective management of nationally protected areas (such as national, regional and landscape parks, covering 13% of the territory) and valuable natural features, including 11,138 underground caves, can facilitate the conservation of species and habitats.

Forests have a special place in the biotic wealth of Slovenia. The share of forests with conserved natural tree composition exceeds 50% of all the country's forests, indicating resilience and sustainable management.

Natural resources and waste

The exploitation of natural resources generated or extracted in Slovenia has declined since 2007. 22 million tonnes were exploited in 2012, of which the vast majority were mineral resources used in the construction industry. Imported materials and goods also declined after 2008. Domestic material consumption per capita was 12.4 tonnes in 2012. Material productivity has been rising since 2007.

The largest quantity of waste is generated from production and service activities (3.7 million tonnes in 2012). Since 2002, 60% of such waste has been recovered, and recovery rates continue to grow. In 2012, 672 000 tonnes of municipal waste were generated (327 kg per capita). Thanks to separate waste collection and other legal measures, the quantity of landfilled municipal waste has declined (from 74% in 2008 to 47% in 2012).

Extended producer responsibility started to be introduced in most sectors in 2004 (packaging waste, end of life vehicles, waste medicinal products). The recycling rates of the collected waste in general meet current targets, but the collection rates themselves need to be improved.

Main policy responses to key environmental challenges and concerns

Air quality plans for specific areas[5] - seven air quality plans for the country's municipalities have been prepared in partnership with the municipalities, which gives a good prospect for successful implementation.

Climate Change: an action plan for decreasing GHG emissions is being prepared. A risk assessment of natural and other disasters that pose the greatest risk at the national level will be prepared. Completing the construction of a complex-weather radar (in addition to the existing one) is crucial for short-term forecasting of extreme weather events.

Water: An operational programme for drinking water supply will be prepared. It will also address the problem of water loss from the public water supply, which currently runs at 30%. Slovenia is upgrading the system for monitoring and analysing the state of its water environment[6]. The project will increase the capacity for integrated assessment and monitoring of the whole water cycle.

Nature and biodiversity: the land covered by Natura 2000 has expanded. Slovenia remains one of the EU countries with the largest share of land covered by Natura 2000. A new biodiversity strategy for Slovenia is being prepared.

Natural resources and waste: Slovenia is preparing a national development programme to establish an adequate waste management infrastructure and is also conducting an expert study to prepare guidelines for a resource-efficiency action plan.

Country specific issues 

Instruments for financial support to companies, research institutions and individuals

Three development policy instruments with an emphasis on environmental objectives (the Centres of Excellence[7], the competence centres[7] and the Economy Development Centres) were established with the aim of connecting different companies with research institutions. The challenges posed by the economic crisis and environmental concerns were jointly addressed and the centres have already delivered concrete results for the economy.

Another instrument providing support to individuals is the ECO Fund[8], which creates financial incentives for various energy-efficiency measures and renewable energy schemes.

Natura 2000 MP: the Natura 2000 Management Programme[9] for Slovenia is a strategic approach to better Natura 2000 funding. In the programme, existing policies (especially CAP and regional development) and management systems (water management, forestry, protected areas) are actively used for the achievement of Natura 2000-network objectives. Slovenia also used the LIFE+ project to share experience concerning the management of Natura 2000 with other countries[10].


The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.


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