GB No. 2(13)/94
An 80 million US$ World Bank loan to the Slovakian Ministry of Agriculture is currently under preparation. The project, entitled "Environmental Forestry Development Project," will be approved by the Board of Executive Directors in September, '94. The two major objectives of the loan -- in the words of the World Bank -- are (1) to halt the destabilization process of the forests by developing environmentally and economically sound management of forest resources, and (2) to ease the transition of both forestry and wood industry sub-sectors into, respectively, multiownership management and market conditions. The nearly $200 million project consists of 6 components. One of them, "Ecological Management of Forests," seems especially ironic. It proposes paving old dirt roads in forests and "environment-friendly harvesting" using chain-saws with catalytic converters and eco-oil for lubricating the saws.
The plan calls for more than doubling timber production in Slovakia, despite the massive damage from current logging (Slovakia currently logs about 4.5 million m3 a year, exporting about 5%. Under the World Bank loan proposal, logging could increase to between 9 and 13 million m3 a year). And the need to repay the World Bank loan (plus interest) would probably force even greater cutting of trees for export, especially given Slovakia's disastrous economic situation. The loan seems to be one more example of the WB's policy to accelerate exploitation of natural resources in a country to achieve short-term earnings. Another point of criticism is the plan to plant trees in non-forest areas to produce biomass for energy production. Predicting continued reductions in agricultural production, the proposal recommends planting 54,804 ha, including introducing non-native species (Douglas fir and Eastern red oak), over the next 10 years. The proposal also recommends a 93 million US$ project for creating 15,000 ha forests that can be harvested in 3-5 years to fuel new biomass power plants. However, here the WB is ignoring that Slovakia, like many other countries or Central and Eastern Europe, wastes huge amounts of energy. The cheapest and most environmentally sound way to "produce" energy is to invest in energy-saving measures.
Forests cover about 40% of Slovakia's area. Several of these forests are among the largest native or close-to-native forests left in Europe outside of the former Soviet Union. About 60% of Slovakia's forests are found in mountainous areas. Slovakian forests are home to 10,000 species of animals and over 35,000 species of plants.
Two Slovakian NGOs, the VLK (WOLF) forest protection organization and the Green Perspective Foundation, are leading a campaign supported by several other NGOs to save Slovakia's valuable forests from this potentially disastrous WB plan. There are several things they want to change in the project in order to make management of Slovakian forests more sustainable: (1) Reduce the project budget by the size of the proposed World Bank loan, (2) Abolish the building of roads proposed in the project, (3) Minimize expenses for purchase of computers, transport, and logging equipment, (4) Abolish the biomass plantations energy project, and (5) Allow for the active participation of the public in project planning and implementation. They ask you for your help!
What you can do
VLK Forest Protection Movement
Nadacia Zelena Nadej
Levocska 5, 080 01 Presov
Banking details: Payee - Nadacia Zelena Nadej
Bank - Veobecn úverov banka, Bratislava
Account 34833-404751-572 (with US$)
Final note: At the end of May, a World Bank forestry loan for Belarussia was approved. The loan project proposes that timber export should be increased by 600%.
Aim: Support of environmental functions of forests in Slovakia.
Cost: $190 million (US dollars)
Repayment: not clear
Restoration of Pollution Damaged Forests $87 mil.
x Restorationof 352 km2 of damaged forests in selected areas;
x Monitoring of air pollution;
Settlement of Ownership
x Strengthening the process of new (private) ownership settlement, support of private owners by hiring professional managers, providing consultation services for forestry sector;
Preparation of Forest Management Plans (FMP)
x Support of private forest owners and State Forest Service in preparation of obligatory parts of the FMP;
Forestry Information System
x Purchase of hardware and software; $34.1 mil.
Ecologization of Harvesting and Transport
x 120 new cable cranes, 50 km new asphalt roads, paving (asphalting) 150 km of old roads, upgrading 1500 km of roads; $29.1 mil.
Afforestation of Non-Forest Land
x this was changed considerably to the area of only 39 km2; $26.8 mil.
Production of Energy from Forest Biomass
x Consumption of wood decreased from 650 000 t (first version of the project) to 180 000 t a year;
Wood will be burned in 735 units; $11.8 mil.
Development of Wood Processing Industry
x Propagation of foreign investors, marketing and information center within Wood Industry Association; $3.1 mil.
Who will profit from the project:
State forestry institutions, suppliers of logging equipments and computers, producers of energy, paper and wood industry.