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13 June 2019

A rush of air to the head

As part of its most recent meeting, the ConnectGREEN project partners visited the Badínsky prales Natura 2000 site: a haven of untouched forest ecosystems in the heart of Slovakia.

Back in 1905, Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío started his famous poem “Song of Spring in Autumn” with the following verses: “Youth, divine treasure, you are already leaving to not return!”. Over a century later, with the planet and humankind facing a critical moment which urges for reaction to protect biodiversity, one could perhaps describe our current context with a redefinition of those verses: “Nature, divine treasure, you seem to be leaving to not return!”. Nevertheless, there is always hope — and some time to react, too. On 15 May 2019, during the ConnectGREEN project Partner Meeting, held in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia, an immersion to the Badínsky prales proved that humanity can really be sustainable — if it so wants to.

Located in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia, Badínsky prales extend over 30 hectares and acts as an extension to the Pol’ana Biosphere Reserve, home to 1220 higher plant species, 390 types of mushrooms and 278 animal species. Source: Natura 2000.

Located in the south-eastern part of the Kremnické pohorie mountains, 10 km to the south-west of Banská Bystrica, the area of primeval forest represents the syncretism of forest ecosystems and rural cultural landscapes, and how can both themes can be protected and enjoyed. The forest, a Natura 2000 site, is located in the Alpine biogeographical region and has been protected since 1913, thus being one of the natural reserves in Slovakia protected by law for the longest period of time — with its rare primary fir and beech habitat almost untouched by human activity.

As a matter of fact, within its 30.70 ha, only fallen trunks — threatening the forest road operations — are removed, thus securing the lowest possible human interference. Therefore, the Badínsky prales allow for a unique opportunity to enter an originally aged forest, untouched by human extractive patterns.

BRANCHING THE PROTECTION

The importance of the Badínsky prales becomes bigger when one realises that it also acts as an extension of the Pol’ana Biosphere Reserve, which sits on a 20.360 ha area and helps protect 30 species addressed in the Nature Directives and 17 habitat types indicated within the Habitat Directive (22 and 3, respectively, for the specific territory of the Primeval Forests of Badín).

Pol’ana’s history dates back to 13-15 million years ago, when volcanic activities brought a geological and geomorphological context conducive to the development of several rare species. Overall, Pol’ana — which is covered by forests on 85% of its territory — is home to 1220 higher plant species, 390 types of mushrooms and 278 animal species. For the ConnectGREEN project partners — focused in working to increase the capacity of ecological corridors identification and management and to overcome the conflict between infrastructure development and wildlife conservation — the visit to the site was of utter importance, since it helps protect the project’s three emblematic large carnivore species : the grey wolf, the Eurasian Lynx and the brown bear.

Therefore, nature, divine treasure, be protected to never leave.