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Protected areas in Slovenia

For a relatively small area, Slovenia offers a unique mosaic of biological, geographical and cultural diversity. Protected natural areas cover around 12,6% of Slovenia's territory; 36% of the territory is protected under Natura  2000,  and almost 15,000 sites have been awarded the status "valuable natural feature".

Slovenia's protected natural areas are divided into different categories according to the international IUCN system. The Nature Conservation Act (1999) makes a basic division between large and small protected areas. Larger areas are those generally referred to as "nature parks", and they belong to three categories:

  • A national park (IUCN category: II/V) is a large area with numerous valuable natural elements and high biodiversity. Its territory is divided at least in two zones: in the larger one, the protection regime is stricter and nature is let in its original state, preserving ecosystems and natural processes. A national park may also include smaller areas characterized by greater human influence, which must however be in harmony with nature.
  • Regional parks (IUCN category: V/II) are extensive areas whose ecosystems and landscapes are characteristic of a region, with large portions of nature in its original state and areas of valuable natural features. They are divided in two zones, too, but the stricter protection area is smaller and interwoven with areas where human influence is relatively large, but always in harmony with nature. 
  • Landscape parks (IUCN category: V) are territories where the interaction of people and nature over time has produced an area of significant ecological, biological or landscape value, and where the influence of people shaping, maintaining and caring for the environment is remarkable. Landscape parks in Slovenia are currently 44.

The Nature Conservation Act also defines Slovenian small protected areas, namely:

  • Nature reserves and strict nature reserves, corresponding to IUCN categories IV and I (52 sites)
  • Natural monuments, corresponding to IUCN category III (1,217 sites)
Sources: Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, Slovenian Environment Agency, Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Nature Conservation



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