Experts on close to nature forestry gathered in Slovenia

Ljubljana, 11 September - The world's leading experts on close to nature forestry have gathered in Radlje ob Dravi for a four-day conference that marks the anniversary of Pro Silva, the umbrella organisation promoting sustainable forestry practices that was established at the initiative of a Slovenian forestry researcher 30 years ago.

The four-day conference, which kicked off on Wednesday, features 120 participants from 30 countries discussing forestry's challenges against the backdrop of climate change, technological progress and social transformation.

Pro Silva was set up 30 years ago at the initiative of Slovenian professor Dušan Mlinšek and has since evolved into an association bringing together over 5,500 members from 30 mostly European countries.

Since its founding it has pursued the mission of expanding forest management practices that mimic natural processes, countering the widespread practice of clear cutting.

The result of such management are forests stands with trees of different ages that studies have shown are more resilient to natural disasters.

Sustainable management practices also consider the forest not just as an economic category but as an ecological unit that offers economic as well as environmental and social benefits.

According to Anton Lesnik, the head of the Slovenian branch of Pro Silva, ecological and social functions of forest will be the main focus for the organisation in the coming years. This will require joining forces with other professions and cooperating with other stakeholders, he said.

One major aim of Pro Silva is to highlight examples of best practice, hence the choice of Radlje ob Dravi, which is close to the Pahernik forests, a 500-hectare forest estate which has been sustainably managed for a century.

The conference will be accompanied by Forestry in Harmony with Nature, which will become a permanent exhibition of the Radlje ob Dravi Museum.

According to Jurij Diaci, a professor of forestry at the Biotechnical Faculty in Ljubljana, around a quarter of European forests are managed according to close to nature principles.

In Slovenia, however, this has become the dominant management practice after a ban on clear cutting was instituted in 1949.