17 Aug 2022, 12:33 PM

STA, 17 August 2022 - As experts take stock of the drought damage to agriculture, city dwellers are witnessing the long-term impact of the dry summer too, especially on the coast where municipal vegetation has suffered additionally due to a watering ban. Cities where watering has mostly been allowed have used different approaches to prevent the worst.

The heaviest damage is being reported in coastal municipalities, although the city of Koper has for instance mitigated the watering ban somewhat by using water from a nearby lake.

Annuals, perennials, shrubs and fragrance plants are currently struggling with the drought, and a dozen newly planted trees have perished.

The heat has also left a strong mark on Koper's Bonifika sports centre, with two of its three football pitches completely ruined by the heat and watering ban. The main pitch is being watered with bought water delivered from 60 kilometres away.

Meanwhile, Voka Snaga, the municipal company responsible for the maintenance of trees in Ljubljana, is also struggling to protect some of the trees in the capital, even though it has executed 5,790 rounds of watering on 1,087 trees during the summer.

"At extremely high temperatures of more than 35 degrees Celsius, sometimes even regular watering does not protect the trees from drying out," the company's representatives told the STA amid media reports that the landmark birch tree in Prešeren square is now dry.

In Maribor, the main challenge are the roughly 800 trees planted in the past three years, with some of the most vulnerable ones being watered on a daily basis.

Moreover, the moving height has been raised at municipal green areas to protect them from from drying out completely. Mulching and watering bags have proven invaluable.

Similar measures are used in Kranj, where newly planted trees - some 500 were planted in the past four years - are also being supported with additives such as humic acid and special tablets that help to alleviate the impact of the drought.

Officials in Celje are speaking of "a doubling if not tripling" of efforts to support the city's vegetation compared to last year. Watering bags are a popular measure and while damage has also been seen on older trees, they do not seem to be drying out.

Much success in the fight against the heat and drought is being reported from Murska Sobota, but officials were careful to note that the actual extent of the damage will not be clear before next spring when the trees should start producing fresh leaves.

12 Aug 2022, 16:14 PM

STA, 12 August 2022 - An environmental organisation has lost a legal battle against the Environment Ministry's decision to allow the culling of 222 brown bears in Slovenia this year, by the end of September.

In a decision taken on 16 June, the Administrative Court ruled the lawsuit by Alpe Adria Green was unwarranted. The judgement is non-appealable.

The decision to allow the culling of 222 brown bears by 30 September was issued by the Environment Ministry in February but was stayed by the court in March pending its decision on Alpe Adria Green's appeal.

The organisation argues that every such culling permit is illegal and that under Slovenian and international legislation it is permitted to cull only those bears that have been proven to have attacked humans or to be jeopardising people or property.

The court based its decision on the hearing of two Ljubljana Faculty of Biotechnology professors, who were both involved in the expert opinion that was one of the basis for the culling permit.

The Best Way to Photograph Bears in Slovenia

With the culling the country's brown bear population would be reduced from an estimated 1,000 to around 800 animals.

The court found the planned culling would not "harm the maintenance of a favourable conservation status of the bear population in Slovenia".

It rejected the argument that the interest of the protection of human health could be achieved by individual culls and said the planned culling was warranted duo to increased number of human-bear conflicts as a result of the density of the bear population.

Alpe Adria Green and an animal rights society AniMa disagree with such a position, noting that the court failed to consider data on hunting tourism and public promotion of culinary offerings of bear meat.

10 Aug 2022, 10:20 AM

STA, 10 August 2022 - A fire that broke out during Monday night under Socerb hill in the Koper municipality near the border with Italy has been brought under control, but has not yet been put out, authorities said on Wednesday morning. Given how bad it looked at a certain point yesterday, the situation is relatively good now, they added.

A total of 130 firefighters remain on the ground as the extinguishing effort has been taken over by the day shift, David Hrvatin, the head of the night shift with the Koper Fire Department, told the STA.

The night shift included some 130 firefighters and 40 vehicles, the Defence Ministry said.

Support from the air hit pause during last night after helicopters and water bombers participated in the effort throughout Tuesday, but aerial firefighting will again play a major role today.

Two Slovenian Armed Forces helicopters have returned to the site this morning to help put out the fire, and a Pilatus aircraft is expected too. A police helicopter will be monitoring the area with a thermal imaging camera.

Yesterday evening two hotspots were still active and the main cause for concern was the bora wind, but now the situation looks more promising.

About 15 hectares were on fire yesterday afternoon, shows data from the Civil Protection and Disaster Relief Administration, but Hrvatin estimates the figure increased slightly towards the evening.

Koper Mayor Aleš Bržan said in a press statement on Tuesday that the drinking water supply on the Slovenian coast was not yet at risk. The Civil Protection indeed redirected some water tank trucks to the fire site that were initially meant to bring the much-needed extra supplies to the municipality, but the coastal area was then soon provided with additional trucks, he said.

09 Aug 2022, 19:00 PM

STA, 9 August 2022 - A fire broke out last night under Socerb hill near the border with Italy, south-east of Trieste, and the blaze is not yet under control, with the strong bora wind spreading the fire downhill towards the villages of Osp in Slovenia and Prebenico in Italy.

Jan Brodar, who heads the firefighting effort on the Slovenian side, said that people's lives are not endangered at the moment.

There are around 100 firefighters on the Slovenian side, and the Slovenian Armed Forces have made two of its helicopters available for the effort. A Canadair water bomber and a helicopter are being used on the Italian side.

Note the following map shows the location of Socerb, not the fire

Several Osp residents have left their homes, mostly due to smoke, and several web portals reported that the village is being evacuated, which Brodar denies, saying no evacuation had been ordered by the authorities.

Primorski Dnevnik, the Trieste-based Slovenian newspaper, reported that fires had also broken out on Tuesday afternoon at three locations between Villa Opicina and the border with Slovenia. The fires have been contained.

The Slovenian Civil Protection and Disaster Relief Administration also used for the effort the water from tank trucks destined for the Cepki drinking water treatment facility that supplies the Slovenian coast during the current water shortage amid the drought.

The Rižana water supply utility has thus noted that the system is running out of water and called on users to adhere to strict rationing and all the other restrictions and bans related to the use of water.

05 Aug 2022, 10:50 AM

STA, 4 August 2022 - The peak of the tourist season at Lake Bled resulted in large quantities of malodorous waste being washed off into the only outlet from the lake, the local environmental organisation has warned, adding that the Sava Bohinjka river is also full of algae. This resulted in the nearby fish farm having to euthanise thousands of fish due to poisoning.

The Environmental Protection Organisation Bled (Društvo za varstvo okolja Bled) said in a press release on Thursday that huge amounts of sewage flowed from the local wastewater treatment plant into the Jezernica creek, the only outlet from Lake Bled.

"The creek is very much like a sewer tunnel, the water being brown and muddy, and tree branches at the banks are drooping due to the weight of sanitary sewer water," it added.

There is a spillway mounted on the tunnel leading into the Jezernica, however it can only catch large pieces of waste and if water levels are high waste material spills back into the creek.

This affects the Sava Bohinjka, which the Jezernica flows into, and where a large algae population has developed. This led to all 25,000 fish kept by the Radovljica Angling Club at the confluence with the Sava dying two weeks ago due to poisoning.

This is yet another fish die-off in Slovenia, after around a tonne and a half of fish died in Mali Graben, and 50 kilos in Homška Mlinščica in July. Two fish die-offs also occurred in June, one in Nanošica and the other in Vrtojbica in the west.

The Kranj police investigators have also inspected the area and took samples for analysis.

Waste being spilled into the waters is a direct consequence of the Bled sewer system being overloaded, say the locals, while the municipality maintains the wastewater treatment plant is functioning as it should.

Anže Bizjak, CEO of the local utility company that operates the Bled sewer system, said last year that the smelly foam collecting at the Lancovo dam was a result of low water levels and diminished water flow. That is why river algae have started to grow.

He also added that faecal matter coming out of the treatment plant is diluted to the extent that it does not exceed parameters set in the plant's environmental permit.

Recently, many of those visiting Bled have reported gastrointestinal issues, likely caused by polluted water, noted the Environmental Conservation Organisation. They have notified the National Institute for Public Health about the outburst.

02 Aug 2022, 15:16 PM

STA, 2 August 2022 - On an annual level, at-home consumption of beer in Slovenia is some 26.4 litres per capita, according to the data from the Statistics Office released on Tuesday ahead of International Beer Day, a celebration for beer-lovers, brewers and pub owners.

Beer prices have gone up in 2021, by 3.2% year-on-year, as retail price for lager stood at EUR 1.83 per litre, while half a litre of ale in bars sold at EUR 2.89 on average.

In 2020, Slovenia had 68 active breweries, almost five times as many as in 2008 when there were only 15.

svetovni dan piva ANG from SURS on Vimeo.

Last year, Slovenia produced 1,260 tonnes of hops, the most important ingredient in beer brewing. Exports amounted to 2,253 tonnes, with the majority of it (56%) being shipped to Germany, while imports stood at 451 tonnes with Germany also being the biggest importer of hops to Slovenia at 64%.

The total value of beer imports last year was EUR 26.7 million, with Austria making the most profit at a 38% share. The value of exports reached EUR 55.9 million, with most beer (25%) being exported to Croatia.

Interestingly, Slovenia also has a beer-related street name, Pivovarniška Ulica (Brewers' Street), with one located in Ljubljana and the other in the spa and brewery town of Laško in the east. Both streets combined house 32 residents.

Originating from California, US, International Beer Day was founded in 2007 and is now celebrated worldwide.

01 Aug 2022, 17:02 PM

STA, 1 August 2022 - Summer Animateka, the summer edition of the Animateka festival of animated film, will take the streets of Ljubljana from Wednesday to Friday, bringing new Slovenian animated films, short films from Central and Eastern Europe, and animated videos abounding in colour and sound.

A selection of newest Slovenian animated films will be screened in City Square on the first day of the festival, including both award-winning masterpieces - Urška Djukić's Granny's Sexual Life and Špela Čadež's Steakhouse, Animateka has announced.

Thursday will bring a collection of short films from Central and Eastern Europe that has been set up by Mihai Mitrica, the artistic director of Animest Festival, as part of activities of the CEE Animation network of festivals.

After a two-year break, the friendly connection of Animateka and the FeKK! short film festival will return on the last day featuring a selection of animated videos that reveal the secret lives of flora, fauna, artificial intelligence and many other hidden perspectives at the zenith of the Anthropocene.

The videos are marked by an explosion of colour and sound and a range of different combinations of animation and music, with DJ Jaša Bužinel rounding off the evening with dance rhythms.

29 Jul 2022, 16:55 PM

STA, 29 July 2022 - Fish in Slovenian rivers are generally doing well, but certain species are highly affected by low water levels and overheating and some areas have seen fish kills in recent weeks. Water levels are extremely low in the Primorska and Notranjska regions, including Lake Cerknica, as well as in the Savinja and most small tributaries of large rivers.

Particularly threatened are species of the Salmonidae family, such as brown trout, grayling and Danube salmon, as well as certain warm-blooded species in areas where there is a lack of water or oxygen, the Slovenian Fishermen's Association has told the STA.

The last three summers have been somehow manageable in terms of water levels and similar conditions were seen in 2017 but not for such a long period as this year.

The federation thus banned angling clubs from organising competitions and recommended them to ban fishing in the most affected rivers.

It would also like activities such as swimming or other sport activities in rivers to be banned because this "puts even more pressure on the fish".

The association would also like to see the Agriculture Ministry as the regulator in charge of introducing obligatory measures play a more active role.

"We would like supervisory bodies, such as inspection services, to be more active. It is also totally unacceptable that watercourses are being encroached on."

Here the association criticised a plan to pump water out of the Rižana river to fill the water supply system reservoirs as the coast has been hit by the worst drought in 35 years.

It believes this would "lower the water level below the ecologically permissible and acceptable flow. This simply means that some people don't care about fish."

The association monitors the situation through the fisheries service and staff at angling clubs, also cooperating with the country's public Fisheries Research Institute.

On a more positive note, Slovenia has made progress in terms of cleanness of waters, with a number of rivers being in the first quality class and most of the remaining ones in the second quality class.

Slovenia also has pristine nature, especially in the areas of the Alpine rivers, which attracts fishing tourists, the association said, adding that fish stock is also good.

What worries the fishermen is a constant and reckless encroachment on watercourses, the cutting of riparian vegetation and the warming of the water during the summer months, which forces the grayling and trout to move upstream, which means that certain fish species are disappearing in certain areas.

Slovenia remains an attractive destination for foreign fishermen, but the association is worried about the impact global warming will have on rivers and lakes and on fishing tourism.

It has been also pushing against regulation of watercourses and for considering bringing rivers back to their original state, giving them space and planting a lot of vegetation along their banks to return the fish to their natural habitat and help them survive.

29 Jul 2022, 11:21 AM

STA, 28 July 2022 - The wildfire that raged across Kras in the past two weeks proved to be extraordinarily challenging because the area is littered with thousands of explosive devices from World War I, which may detonate when subjected to extreme heat. Over 500 devices have gone off during the fire which has since been extinguished, but the area remains dangerous.

Experts estimate that the site of the Isonzo Front in World War I remains littered with about 70 kilos of unexploded explosive ordnance (UXO) per square metre [sic].

The wildfire spread across a surface area of 3,500 hectares located on what used to be the Italian-Austrian border in the early 20th century and the site of many World War I battles between the two countries.

The fire detonated hundreds of devices, posing an extraordinary risk for thousands of firefighters who battled the blaze. "Luckily, the explosions took place where we predicted, in the zones we mapped out," Darko Zonjič, the commander of Slovenia's special UXO unit, told the STA.

"The most important thing was that firefighters followed our safety instructions, otherwise there could have been a catastrophe," he said, adding that there had been some "close calls", but luckily nobody had been hurt.

The UXO unit has only just started their work of removing the unexploded ordnance and found over 250 devices weighing a total of 1.4 tonnes. "But we are far from over. Only when the fire is extinguished completely and we will be able to access the burnt down areas, a realistic picture will begin to emerge."

Movement across burnt down areas becomes somewhat safer after the fire had been extinguished for over 48 hours. "But there are still hot spots where explosions can occur. Therefore we are warning that walking across fire sites is still dangerous."

The UXO unit members are continuing their inspection of outer edges of the burnt areas. The majority of ordnance they found so far were Italian and Austrian 75-millimetre cannon grenades, followed by Austrian 100-millimetre grenades.

"We have not yet found 150-millimetre grenades, but we expect to find them at the centre of the fire site under the Veliki Vrh peak. So far we have inspected only a fraction of the burnt area," Zonjič said.

Very big calibre UXO are mostly underground and will only detonate in case of fire, when temperature reaches about 300 degrees Celsius, he added.

Some of the grenades were found in heaps, likely piled together by metal collectors after the war. "They took brass of the grenades, having known already back then which were dangerous and which weren't.

"Mostly these are individual grenades which had not exploded after launch. If these missiles... are not moved they don't go off, that is why we haven't had an accident like this in a long time."

The missiles become dangerous during fires or when untrained individuals start playing with them. People are advised not to move UXO but report their location to the relevant services instead.

28 Jul 2022, 15:37 PM

STA, 27 July 2022 - A campaign has started to transport drinking water to the Slovenian coast, where restrictions have been introduced due to water shortages. The water is extracted from the Unica river, north of Postojna, and taken by trucks to a water works facility near Dekani. The project was launched at about the same time as the region finally got see some rainfall.

The water is being extracted as of Tuesday morning to water trucks of the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) and the firefighting service. It takes about two hours and a half for one such truck to take the water to the facility and return.

Five trucks have been secured by fire brigades, and four 10,000-litre tankers of the SAF, the authorities announced at a press conference at the site where the water is being extracted from the Unica, under the bridge in the village of Planina.

"Firefighters always want to help, even though we are looking back at a difficult week in Kras," said Franci Petek, the commander of the Firefighting Association of Slovenia, referring to the huge fire in western Slovenia that has recently been contained.

Darko But, the head of the Civil Protection and Disaster Relief Administration, added that the government had make it possible to hire private contractors with larger water trucks to help out in the effort.

But he noted that the extraction of the water by no means impacted the water supply for the nearby towns of Postojna and Pivka, while Martin Pregelj, the head of the the Rižana water utility noted that "it is a national project".

The measure to alleviate the water shortage in Slovenian Istria was confirmed by the government last Thursday, and will be in force until the end of August.

In the meantime, all restrictions remain in place. After the use of water for non-urgent purposes was banned and cuts for businesses was introduced, the total consumption decreased to 30,000 m3 a day, the local water utility said.

As the area has seen some rainfall in recent days, the utility has detected a slight rise in the level of the groundwater, but said it was not enough to revive the main natural spring of the Rižana river, which remains dry.

A total of 700 m3 of potable water was brought on Tuesday to the Cepki water works facility, and it has been estimated that under the current pace, the situation could be brought back to normal in ten days.

Some 20 litres of water per square metre fell on Tuesday in the nearby area of Brkini, and some of the water entered the Rižana system, while the water level in aquifers above the source of Rižana has also increased slightly.

While the main source is still dry, the Rižana flow at the downstream measuring point has increased to 115 litres per second, the water utility said, also noting that the consumption had also decreased compared to Monday figures.

25 Jul 2022, 12:02 PM

STA, 25 July - Metaldays, a large festival dedicated to metal music, is taking place near Tolmin in the north-west of the country where the Tolminka and Soča rivers meet. More than 50 bands will perform this year, including Napalm Death, Incantation and Celeste.

The line-up includes Incantation, a veteran death metal band from the US, French band Celeste that fuses black metal, sludge metal and post-hardcore, English grindcore band Napalm Death, Slovenian heavy-stoner metal band Britof, and Sick of It All, a veteran of the New York hardcore punk scene.

The organisers warn on the festival's website of a new parking regime due to the construction of a bypass road that will run through a part of the festival area.

Since Covid restrictions relaxed this year, allowing music festivals to return to the Sotočje area, the Tolmin municipality decided in the spring to introduce new rules for organisers.

Under the new regime, organisers must ensure free access to the riverside area during the day and the duration of the music programme is limited to eight hours a day and should wrap up by 1am at the latest.

To protect the area and keep the original spirit of the festival alive, the number of visitors is capped at 12,000. The festival will run until Friday.

The past two summers, the organisers of Metaldays had to cancel the largest festival at the Sotočje area due to the pandemic. Last year, a scaled-down iteration was held though at the end of July under the slogan Weekend of Consolation.

Learn more at the official website

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