SLOVAKIA has always been richly covered in forests. People have taken advantage of this natural beauty to make a living. The gamekeepers' houses scattered across the country are a reminder of this. The postcard shown above is from the 1920s. It is a reproduction of a painting by prominent Slovak painter and writer Janko Alexy that shows one of these houses.
Any mention of forests in Slovakia brings to mind Jozef Dekrét Matejovie (1774-1841), one of the best known gamekeepers in the country's history. During the first half of the 19th century he raised awareness of the deforestation that was taking place in central Slovakia due to the extensive mining and iron production there. He also opened facilities where saplings were raised to replace the destroyed trees and pioneered the field of economic management of forests.
In 1825, he was first to propose using saws rather than axes to cut down trees because axes were splitting the trees so much that every 16th tree could only be used for making wood chips.
It is worth noting that Dekrét Matejovie never had a formal education in forestry. He learned everything from his father, who was a forestry worker.