Before the Amendments to the “Nature Protection Act” were adopted in the Republic of Croatia in 2018, the Ministry responsible for nature protection required that nature protection conditions were fully incorporated into forest management plans. If the conditions were met and approved by the Ministry responsible for nature protection, the plan could then be sent for approval by the Ministry responsible for forestry.
However, the Amendments of the Nature Protection Act, and the adoption of the new “Forest Act and Ordinance on Forest Management”, made significant changes to the content and structure of forest management plans after 2018. This was done to further align forest management with nature conservation objectives. In Croatia, forest management plans are divided into two basic groups:
- Forest management plans for management units which have ecological network areas within the forest and forest land.
- Forest management plans for management units which do not have ecological network areas within the forest and forest land.
For management units with ecological network areas, a forest management program with an ecological network management plan must be prepared. Several main actions are required to prepare these programs. First, the presences of target species are recorded and mapped for a particular ecological network area during field work. Second, maps of habitat types and target habitat types are made in accordance with the National Habitat Classification. Third, a description of the ecological network area is made along with a list of target species and target habitat types, the status of target habitat types and species represented in the area, and measures to achieve conservation objectives. Finally, a detailed analysis of the impact of the planned activities on the conservation objectives and the integrity of the ecological network is also prepared.
The aim of these programs is to ensure efficient and sustainable management of the forests which are part of the Natura 2000 Network. This is achieved through the integration of forestry planning and nature protection processes, made possible by creating and using a single document which contains all relevant information related to the management of forests and forest land within the ecological network. These programs require the consent of the Ministry responsible for nature protection. Approval by the Ministry ensures their quick implementation because the process is fast and efficient, compared to an assessment of acceptability related to the ecological network which is normally slower.
For the other management units with no ecological network areas, there is also the obligation to determine the status of endangered and rare habitat types and strictly protected species located in unit. The management program also provides a list of ecological network areas that are not located in the forest and forest land, but in general are located in the area covered by the management unit or in its immediate vicinity. Finally, an analysis of the impact of planned activities on conservation objectives and integrity of the ecological network is also required.
This contribution was prepared by Srećko Juričić, Croatian Ministry of Agriculture.
Photo: Plitvička Jezera, Croatia by Sean Kuriyan on Unsplash.