Land use - State and impacts (Slovenia)

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More than half of Slovenia’s land surface is covered with forest.
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Environmental Agency of the Republic of Slovenia
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03 Jan 2011
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Environmental Agency of the Republic of Slovenia
Published: 28 Oct 2010 Modified: 28 Jun 2016 Feed synced: 03 Jan 2011 original
Key message

More than half of the land surface is covered with forests, artificial surfaces represent less than 3 %. Their share is increasing mainly due to the construction of transport infrastructure. The majority of forests have been grubbed for the needs of the latter and in smaller extent of agricultural areas.

More than half of Slovenia’s land surface is covered with forest, 56 % and 58 % when transitional woodland-scrub is taken into account; other mainly natural areas, natural grassland, wetlands, water bodies, open spaces with little or no vegetation, take up 4 %, 35 % of the surface is intended mainly for farming, while just under 3 % has artificial surfaces (TP01). This picture of land cover and use can be seen in the satellite pictures taken in 2006 according to the CORINE Land Cover methodology (CLC2006).

The forest area is increasing where there is already forest cover but in areas of intensive farming and especially in suburban areas there is pressure on forests which is leading gradually, despite conservation efforts, to shrinkage of what are already tiny remnants of forest (GZ05). A large proportion of relatively inaccessible forest is the main reason why humans had a less critical impact on forests in the past, than in the majority of Central European countries. For this reason the forests are relatively well preserved, especially as regards the diversity of the natural make-up of tree species and, vertically and horizontally, the structure of stands (GZ02).

As far as high-quality landscape is concerned, within the framework of natural features there is a mosaic-like interweaving of forest and farmland. These categories of land, labelled by CLC2006 as complex cultivation patterns and land principally occupied by agriculture with significant areas of natural vegetation, occupy 23 % of Slovenia. While the fragmentation of farmland is not desirable from the aspect of the economics of farm production, in terms of cultural landscape the diversity and landscape patterns and the interweaving of uses encourage greater biodiversity and represent the natural and cultural heritage and identity of the Slovenian landscape (TP01).

The same methodology was applied in 2000 (CLC2000) and 1996 (CLC95), so an analysis of changes is possible. These are relatively small and in none of the periods covered do they represent more than around 0.1 % of the entire territory. Account needs to be taken of the fact that the methodology used only covers land cover changes greater than 5 ha.

Analysis of the course of changes (Figure 2) between individual types of land cover and use (LEAC) has shown that the biggest changes took place in forest areas. Between 1996 and 2000, around 520 ha of forest land was felled and reforested, mainly in deciduous forests, and between 2000 and 2006 this was done over 1 700 ha of mainly evergreen forests. Areas of transitional woodland scrub identified by the methodology occupied 150 ha. The shrinking of forests was also necessary for the construction of infrastructure (TP01).

Around 60 % of newly sealed surfaces were previously forest, and the remaining third was farmland, of which 210 ha were complete field areas. Almost all of it was developed after 2000 (Table 1, Figure 3).

Table 1: Land cover categories being taken by urban and other artificial land development

land cover categories   uptake in ha  
1996-2000   2000-2006   total 1996-2006  
arable land and permanent crops 8,11 202,75 210,86
pastures and mixed farmland 110,44 216,08 326,52
forests and transitional woodland shrub 170,7 672,3 843
natural grassland, heathland, sclerophyllous vegetation   26,93 0 26,93
open spaces with little or no vegetation 0 0 0
wetlands 0 0 0
water bodies 0 0 0
total change of the period 316,18 1091,12 1407,3

Source: CLC95, CLC2000 and CLC2006. Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, Slovenian Environment Agency, Surveying and mapping Authority of the Republic of Slovenia, European Environment Agency, 2007.

The transport network and infrastructure account for almost two-thirds, 62 %, of the entire increase in urban and other artificial surfaces. Average annual change in the period 1996-2006 amounted to 87 ha/year (Table 2, Figure 4).

Table 2: Land uptake by sector

types of human activity uptake in ha      
  1996–2000 2000–2006 total 1996–2006 per year
land uptake by housing, services and recreation 11,37 151,34 162,71 16,27
land uptake by industrial and commercial sites 43,52 68,22 111,74 11,17
land uptake by transport networks and infrastructures 177,56 694,05 871,61 87,16
land uptake by mines, quarries and waste dumpsites 83,73 177,5 261,23 26,12
total artificial land cover uptake  316,18 1091,11 1407,29 14,73

Source: CLC95, CLC2000 and CLC2006. Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, Slovenian Environment Agency, Surveying and mapping Authority of the Republic of Slovenia, European Environment Agency, 2007.

A review of the compositional quality of urbanised land shows that, to a great extent, better quality land has been built on with settlements chiefly concentrated at the bottom of river valleys and on flood plains along rivers where the soil is of the highest quality. Across Slovenia as a whole, around half the land is of medium quality, while 29 % is higher-quality soil. Of the surface areas that were urbanised in 2002–2007, as much as 43 % occupied the highest-quality land, while 36 % covered medium quality soil. Space in Slovenia is a limited and precious natural resource, so the urbanisation of the past decade is worrying – higher-quality agricultural land is being lost in a country where a considerable proportion is mountainous and with very little high-quality soil and farmland (KM10).


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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