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Sustainable forest management

Last update of indicator 20.12.2021

Indicator definition

The indicator characterises quantitative and qualitative aspects of forest resources. Their sustainable management involves prevention of their overexploitation and degradation (the proportion of felling volumes and total current increment), preservation of standing volume for production activities, increasing of the proportion of natural regeneration of forests, as well as ensuring optimal representation of tree species because of fulfilment of all functions of forests and preservation of their stability.


m3/ha, %, ha, mil. m3


Related policy documents and targets

Concept of Agricultural Development of the Slovak Republic 2013 – 2020 (2013)

Strategic goal: Ensuring sustainable forest management

Priority goals within the ecological aspect of sustainable forest management:

  • Restoring of forest functions in areas hit by calamities and increasing of stability of forest cover (securing a scope of forest regeneration of 120 000ha by an appropriate volume of young forest cover and execution of forest thinning and culling on an area of 100 000ha of forest).


National Forest Programme of the Slovak Republic (2007)

Strategic goal 1: Support of ecological forest management

Priority 1: Support of forest management rooted in nature

Global goals:

  • Creation of healthy, ecologically stable and biologically diverse forest ecosystems as a basic condition of sustainable forest management under the conditions of synergic influence of adverse agents and anticipated climate change.

Priority 3: Supporting preservation, improvement and increase of biodiversity

Global goals:

  • Preserving, and, in justified cases, appropriately improving biological diversity in forests with predominant ecological and social functions.
  • Preserving biological forest resources, their genetic species and ecosystem diversity, as well as their sustainable utilisation on starting new forest growth, preserving of all parts and components of forest ecosystems to an extent that will contribute towards preserving, improving and increasing biodiversity.

Strategic goal 2: Improvement and protection of the environment

Priority 4: Mitigation of impacts of climate change and support of adaptation of forests to the impacts of climate change

Global goals:

  • Adaptation of forest structure to anticipated impacts of climate change by executing adaptation measures.


The updated National Biodiversity Strategy to the year 2020 (2014)

Main goal by 2020

Halting biodiversity loss and degradation of ecosystems and their services in the Slovak Republic until 2020, ensuring the restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems to an appropriate extent and the prevention of biodiversity loss on a global scale.

Area D Combating the spread of invasive species

Goal D.7 Ensure that the negative impact of invasive species on biodiversity and ecosystems in Slovakia is mitigated by 2020.

Measure C5.1:

Ensure the preservation of the area of primeval and natural forests, prevent their further fragmentation and promote forest regeneration, while securing compensatory mechanisms to cover losses, prioritize alternative management practices with high added value.


Continuously identify and control the spread in invasive species and their spread pathways through which they expand to the territory of Slovakia.

  • Task 143. Ensure the monitoring of invasive organisms in the forests of Slovakia and research the spread pathways of biotic invasive organisms in the forest habitats.


Key question

Is forest management sustainable and environmentally friendly?

Key messages

  • Forest utilisation in Slovakia, or the proportion of felling volume over increment, can still be assessed as sustainable, because timber felling is lower than the total current increment (TCI). However, in the long term, this share has increased significantly and has not fallen below 60% since 2004. The high share was mainly related to the implementation of excessive incidental felling caused by calamities. It reached 62.7% in 2020, a year-on-year decline which has continued since 2018.
  • Total standing volume in the Slovak forests is continually growing and in 2020 it represented 484.5 mil. m3 of barkless wood matter. Since 1994, the standing volume of broad-leaved trees has exceeded that of conifers. The highest historical standing volume have been reached and is culminating.
  • The share of natural forest regeneration on their total regeneration in 2020 represents more than a third of the total regeneration (39.8 %). It has on an upward trend in the long and medium term, but has declined by 1.7% year-on-year.
  • The forests of the Slovak Republic have an ecologically favourable tree species composition. The gradual decrease in the area of coniferous trees (mainly spruce) is a positive trend. In 2020 the share of broad-leaved trees reached 63.9% and thus achieved the target tree species composition of forests. Beech (34.6%), spruce (21.8%), oaks (13%) and pine (6.6%) are the most represented species.


Change since 2005 Change since 2015 Last year-on-year change
emo_smile Pozitivny trend emo_smile
In the long term, the development in terms of sustainable forest management is favourable in all the indicators evaluated. In the medium term, the development of sustainable forest management continues to be favourable. All the relevant indicators have developed favourably year-on-year, except for the share of natural regeneration.


Summary assessment


Detailed assessment

Utilisation of forest resources

The "Utilization of forest resources", or "Timber felling intensity" indicator helps to assess whether forests are being used within the limits of their actual productivity. The indicator is relates sustained yield to actual harvest in terms of a relative balance between forest growth and felling.
Increments are also important in the assessment of forest productivity and harvest opportunities. The total current increment represents the total annual increment of wood due to the growth of trees during a year. It is the highest in pre-harvest age grades (3rd to 6th). Since its height depends on the arrangement of the age grades, it cannot be used as an indicator of timber felling.
The TCI has increased after 1993 and reached 11,974 thousand m3 by 2020 (an increase of 19.6% since 1993 and 3.4% compared to 2005), or 6.22 m3 per 1 ha of timber land. Year-on-year it decreased by 6 thous. m3. In the past decades, the TCI increased up to the level of 12,092 thous. m3 (6.32 m3 per ha) recorded in 2015, which resulted from the existing age composition of the forests in Slovakia. Beginning in that year, there has been a gradual decline in TCI.


Standing volume

Along with the increase in the forest standing volume, the average standing volume per ha is increasing as well. Currently it represent 249 m3 of barkless wood matter, which is a 20 m3/ha (8.7 %) increase from 2005. There was no year-on-year change.
The standing volume of coniferous woods has been decreasing since 2010 as a consequence of frequent damage to coniferous (predominantly spruce) forests.
According to Forests national inventory and monitoring findings, 46 ± 7 mil. m3 of wood can be found on non-forest land (on so-called white areas). 
Trend in total and average standing volume
Year Total standing volume (thous. m3) m3 / 1 ha
1990 348 485 181
2000 410 028 215
2001 415 596 217
2002 423 185 221
2003 428 281 223
2004 434 400 226
2005 438 905 229
2006 443 780 231
2007 445 864 232
2008 452 100 235
2009 456 400 237
2010 461 950 239
2011 466 074 241
2012 472 184 244
2013 475 454 246
2014 476 614 246
2015 478 120 247
2016 480 650 248
2017 480 250 248
2018 481 800 248
2019 483 000 249
2020 484 500 249
Source: NFC, SO SR

The increase of total standing volume was due to a higher (above-normal) areal representation of old-growth forests over 70 years of age. These haven´t yet achieved harvest age and thus there was no felling in these areas. For these reasons their volume is culminating. It is expected that this stock will decrease in the coming years as a consequence of gradual change in the age structure.


Forest regeneration

Forest regeneration is an important part of forest management and development. It can be done in two principal ways, one is artificial (sowing and planting) and the other is natural (by natural seeding or vegetative regeneration). It is also possible to apply a combination of these two methods, for example when artificial regeneration is used to supplement the natural regeneration of the vegetation.
Natural regeneration is a natural process in forest development (self-regeneration of the forest community), but also as a comprehensive, purposeful and systematic cultivation activity. It contributes to the preservation of genotypic biodiversity, maintains the natural tree species composition of the forest, as well as their ecological structure and dynamics.
Sustainable forest management places a high emphasis on increasing the share of natural regeneration. Even though this share is increasing, Slovakia doesn´t yet reach the standards of countries with well-developed forestry which have comparable orthographic conditions (40 – 88%). In addition to increasing the proportion of natural forest regeneration, it is necessary to reduce the extent of losses in artificial afforestation, mainly by using more progressive technological processes (using a higher percentage of rooted seed, soil improvement, consistent conservation and cultivation).
The share of natural forest regeneration out of the overall regeneration has been increasing in the long term (despite its continuous decline 2009 – 2014). This increase may be due to a more environmentally-friendly direction of forestry. These should contribute to species and age-diverse forests, being generally more stable then monocultures, and having a positive impact on the promotion of sustainable forest management.


Tree species composition

Tree species composition of forests and their proximity to the natural, target status is a long-term indicator of the extent to which the forests are affected by economic activity. The representation of tree species must be adapted to specific site conditions (and to the anticipated global climate change) and societal requirements in order to optimally fulfil all forest functions. This is the reason behind the long-term call for forest diversity. Biodiversity significantly increases both the static and ecological stability of forests, creating conditions for their conservation even in the event of significant changes in habitat conditions due to anthropogenic or natural causes. However, changes in tree species composition of forests represent a long-term process.
Tree species composition in Slovak forests is currently partially altered, due to several hundred years of human use of forests, especially in favour of more productive and economically desirable tree species (spruce, pine, larch) as well as natural spread of some tree species (hornbeam, black oak, robinia).
In the original (historical) forest composition in Slovakia, broad-leaved trees (79.3%) prevailed over coniferous trees (20.7%). In the target (prospective) tree species composition, an increase in broad-leaved trees is expected. The National Forest Centre derived a outlook (target) tree species composition, which was gradually achieved already by 2018.
Comparison of actual representation of selected trees in Slovak forests (2020) with original and target (outlook)
  % tree representation
original target real
14.1 6.7 4.0
4.9 18.2 21.8
19.9 17.7 13.0
48.0 35.9 34.6
0.7 4.2 6.6
0.1 6.7 2.6
2.6 0.93 6.0
Broad-leaved total
79.3 63.0 63.9
Coniferous total
20.7 37.0 36.1

Source: NFC

There are also introduced tree species in Slovak Forests (e.g. Black Locust, Euroamerican poplars, Black Pine, as well as Douglas Fir, Grand Fir, Eastern White Pine, Northern Red Oak, Sweet and Horse Chestnut and Boxelder Maple). Introduced tree species represent a total of 12 species and their share is about 2.9%. Their area does not increase in the long term, with the exception of expansive Black Locust, which is the most widespread invasive tree species and it also spreads on non-forest land. Boxelder Maple and Chinese Sumac are becoming problematic.
Share of introduced tree species on forest land (%)

Introduced tree species %
Black Locust 1.79
Euromerican poplars 0.38
Black Pine 0.50
Other coniferous: Douglas Fir, Grand Fir, Eastern White Pine 0.07
Other deciduous: Northern Red Oak, Sweet Chestnut, Boxelder Maple 0.14
Source: NFC


International comparison



Mgr. Peter Kapusta, SAŽP,

Related definitions:

Sustainable forest management (pursuant to Section 2 (i) of Act of the National Council of the Slovak Republic No. 326/2005 Coll. on forests) is the management of forests in such a way and to such an extent as to preserve their biodiversity, resilience, production and renewal capacity, life span and their ability to perform forest functions.



The indicator "Utilization of forest resources“, or „Wood harvesting intensity“is defined as a ration of forest felling and forest increment. If the ratio is smaller or equal to one, it means that harvest is less, or equal, to the annual increment. This represents the sustained yield. A ratio that is higher than one indicates over-harvest, which is not sustainable.
The forest felling is regulated by § 29 of the Decree of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Slovak Republic no. 453/2006 Coll. on forest management and forest protection.
The growing stock is measured in m3 of timber inside bark at the stump. Their determination is influenced by the category of forests, economic model and management type, the status of the forest and precision requirements.
Forest renewal (pursuant to Section 20 (1) of the Act of the National Council of the Slovak Republic No. 326/2005 Coll. on forests) is carried out as:
a.) natural renewal resulting in forest cover from seeding or vegetative regeneration;
b.) artificial renewalresulting in forest cover from seedlings or manual seed sowing;
c.) combined renewal where forest cover is formed by a combination of natural and artificial renewal.


Data sources:

NFC (National Forest Centre)


Related indicators:

Related international indicators:

Linked references: