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NAPANT: Dying spruce forest endangers the Low Tatras

As many as 415,000 hectares of spruce forest may die off in Slovakia within 30 years due to unharvested fallen trees that were levelled by storms and have been damaged by bark beetle, Jozef Mindáš, general director of the Forests of the Slovak Republic (LSR), said on August 5.

As many as 415,000 hectares of spruce forest may die off in Slovakia within 30 years due to unharvested fallen trees that were levelled by storms and have been damaged by bark beetle, Jozef Mindáš, general director of the Forests of the Slovak Republic (LSR), said on August 5.

In the Low Tatras, spruce forests are endangered to such an extent that they may entirely die off, the TASR newswire wrote. Unless the situation is reversed immediately and chemical and other treatment is permitted, the rejuvenation of the forest may take more than 100 years, foresters warned at a meeting with journalists in Čierny Balog on August 5. In the Low Tatras National Park (NAPANT), two-thirds of the spruce forest has been damaged either by storms or by insects. The strong storm in 2004 left more than 53,000 cubic metres of fallen, mostly coniferous wood, of which the foresters were forced by the public and environmentalists to leave more than one fourth unharvested.

"If we want to have any spruce forests left in three or four years, we have to do our best. We don't need anything else but the foresters to be allowed to fully apply the measures at their disposal," Mindáš emphasised.

NAPANT director Elena Gregorová said that the chemical spraying wasn't the most desirable solution, but conceded that today it is necessary if the young trees are to be preserved. It would not be necessary to spray the strong chemicals, she said.

But some employees of NAPAT still oppose spraying. They wrote in an open letter that the blanket use of chemicals would kill nearly all insects that come into contact with it, could contaminate the food chain, and indirectly endanger the population of other flora, fauna, and birds. TASR

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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