STA, 6 June 2019 - Bathing water quality in 41 of 47 bathing waters included the European Commission's report for 2018, released on Thursday, were classified as being of excellent quality, with all 21 coastal bathing waters receiving this grade. Five waters were labelled good, one as sufficient and none as poor.
"All reported bathing waters are in line with the minimum quality standards of the directive on bathing waters and thus classified 'sufficient' or better," wrote the European Environment Agency, which examined 374 samples from 21 coastal and 26 inland locations.
The tested sites
With the exception of 2011 when one bathing site was classified as good, all coastal bathing waters in Slovenia have persistently been labelled as excellent since 2009.
The inland bathing waters have all also been receiving at least good or sufficient grades since 2010, with half persistently classified as excellent.
EU-wide, minimum quality requirements were met by 95.4% of the 21,831 bathing waters monitored last year, with 300 waters in Albania and Switzerland also included.
Cyprus, Greece, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta and Romania were the only other countries besides Slovenia without a single poor quality case.
STA, 30 May 2019 - The government has formally aborted plans to build hydro power stations on the river Mura in the north-east. The decision, expectedly inviting mixed responses, was taken after the former environment minister announced in January the project was not viable due to environmental concerns.
The government on Thursday halted the drafting of the zoning plan for the Hrastje-Mota hydro power station upon the Environment and Spatial Planning Ministry's proposal.
The ministry had examined three proposed options for the new facility, finding them all environmentally inappropriate.
Speaking after the government session, Minister Simon Zajc said it was impossible to find a suitable location that would not affect the environment, even if measures to alleviate its impact were taken.
"Without a valid national zoning plan, nothing can be constructed, not even the power stations," he said, recalling this was in line with the coalition agreement, in which the coalition parties pledged there would be no power stations on the Mura.
Environmentalists, who have campaigned for this for years, welcomed the decision, hoping it would be followed up by stripping the investor, power utility Dravske Elektrarne Maribor (DEM), of the licence to build eight power station on the Mura.
Andreja Slameršek of the Let's Save the Mura! campaign said she expected DEM to seek the reimbursement of the funds it had already invested in the project.
Environment Ministry data shows the company has so far spent over EUR 12 million on a variety of studies, measurements and other activities related to the project.
But this is nothing "compared to preserving the Mura, the sources of drinking water and possibilities for sustainable development of the people in the Mura area", she said.
However, Zajc said he was not afraid of the potential claims for the invested funds. "They can of course demand it, but they have no legal grounds to do so."
DEM regretted today's decision, attributing it to pursuing partial interests of one sector (the environment) to the detriment of other broader goals (social, agricultural, climate and energy ones).
DEM also said in a release studies had shown the Hrastje-Mota project would have been environmentally viable if measures to alleviate the impact on the environment had been taken.
It did not say whether it would seek reimbursement of the incurred costs. But back in February, DEM and its parent company HSE called against rushing any decisions, saying a solution that would be in Slovenia's long-term interest should be found.
The river Mura is one of the areas with the highest level of biodiversity not only in Slovenia but also in Europe. Last July, UNESCO declared it a biosphere reserve.
STA, 29 May 2019 - Several local civil initiatives demand legislative changes and an immediate cull of bears and wolves in areas where livestock is being attacked, in what is an escalation of long-simmering tensions over how to deal with Slovenia's growing population of large carnivores.
In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Marjan Šarec earlier this week, three civil initiatives demand that hunters immediately shoot the number of bears and wolves designate for culling by the Forest Service.
They also want jackal, whose numbers have been growing rapidly in recent years, to be designated as game animal.
The appeal is the latest instalment of a long dispute that has pitted environmentalists against farmers, scientists and hunters in a fight over what to do with large game in Slovenia.
The bear and wolf population is kept in check with an annual cull and this year the Forest Service proposed that 200 bears be shot, a decision based on scientific estimates of the bear population. Wolves are not slated for culling this year.
But environmentalists challenged the subsequent government decree at the Administrative Court, which refrained from deciding on the cull as such but ordered the government to adopt a new decree setting the number of animals slated for culling.
In the meantime, farmers are reporting increasing damage by bears and wolves and have recently staged a protest in Ljubljana bringing cadavers of animals killed by bears.
The civil initiatives from Kočevje, Notranjska and Primorska, areas in western Slovenia that are home to Slovenia's bear population, now demand that the government also change the law to give expert institutions including the Forest Service, Hunting Association and Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry exclusive say over culling.
Related: In Search of Brown Bears in Slovenia
"The decision-making procedure must be exempt from the legal frameworks of the administrative procedure law and preclude the option of appeal from anyone," the associations said.
Locals would have majority say in any culling decisions and no projects involving large carnivores or other game would be possible without local approval.
Another major demand is to bring the population levels of large carnivores, deer and wild boar to 1990 levels to reduce damage to forests and farmland.
Slovenia is considered by many as a role model for management of large carnivores, but its linchpin has been the regular culling of a very healthy and growing population.
From near extinction in the early 20th century, the population rose to an estimated 700 animals by 2015, according to data by the Biotechnical Faculty.
Scientists have warned that acceptance by locals is key to management as well, with Klemen Jerina, one of the most prominent bear researchers in Slovenia, recently saying that they support the cull of 200 animals.
"But we've come to a point where we believe there are enough bears. If the number continues to grow, the number of conflicts will increase as well," he said in February.
Environmentalists, on the other hand, base their opposition to the cull on the animals' inherent right to live.
STA, 27 May 219 - Animals and natural habitats in Slovenia are not doing very well, suggests a report by the Institute for Nature Conservation, calling for measures to protect the environment. The conservation status of more than half of species has been labelled as unfavourable, while almost a third of habitats are doing poorly.
The conservation status of less than a third of animal and plant species in Slovenia (30%) has been assessed as "favourable". More than half of them are in an unfavourable situation, of which 38% are in an "inadequate" state and 14% are in a "bad" state.
There is no sufficient data to assess the situation for 18% of species.
The situation is the most worrying for amphibians, butterflies and dragonflies, followed by beetles, fish, crabs, reptiles and bats.
The biggest threat to Slovenia's biodiversity is agriculture, urbanisation, industrialisation and human interfering with aquatic ecosystems.
The conservation status of some 38% of habitats has been found to be good, while for 30% of the habitat types it has been found to be "bad" and for some 32% as "insufficient".
Maritime, coastal and inshore habitats, rocks and screes and forests are doing well, while the most problematic areas are inland waters, grasslands, moors and marshes.
"Although Slovenia declares itself a green, wonderful country, our nature is not doing well," said Martina Kačičnik Jančar of the Institute for Nature Conservation, who presented the report in line with the EU habitats directive.
The institute also pointed to a recently published report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), which suggested that globally a million species face extinction.
STA, 22 May 2019 - Slovenia is among the European countries with the biggest diversity of flora and fauna. Some 24,000 species have been recorded, among them 800 animal and 66 plant species that are endemic, which means they are found only in Slovenia.
This data was released by the United Nations in a recent report that highlights the dangers of extinction faced by millions of plant and animal species, the Environmental Ministry pointed out on International Day for Biological Diversity.
According to a report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), in the past ten years biodiversity around the world has declined.
The report can be found here
The main reasons for this are changes in land and sea use, the direct exploitation of animals and plants (for example for food), climate change, pollution and invasive species.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation has launched its first-ever global report on the state of biodiversity, which underpins humanity's food systems. The report that points out how declining biodiversity poses a threat to food sources, human health and the environment.
The Slovenian Agriculture Ministry says that in areas of high natural value, agriculture can ensure the appropriate biodiversity levels are maintained, provided the right technological solutions are employed. Extensive agriculture helps preserve the diversity of species and habitats.
This year's International Day for Biological Diversity, celebrated every year on 22 May, bears the slogan Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health. The theme focuses on biodiversity as the foundation of food and health and as a key catalyst to transforming food systems and improving human well-being.
The day marks the signing of the Convention on Biological Diversity, signed in 1992. In Slovenia, it has been celebrated since 1996 when Slovenia became one of the signataries of the convention.
STA, 19 May 2019 - Slovenia has the worst draft energy and climate plan among all EU member states, according to a report by NGOs that highlights lack of ambition and credibility and absence of a clear path to carbon neutrality by 2050.
In the report Planning for Net Zero: Assessing the draft National Energy and Climate Plans, the European Climate Foundation looked at how credible national goals are, how comprehensive and detailed policy proposals are, and how good the drafting process was.
A graphic from the report (a link to which is at the end of this story)
Slovenia performed dismally across all areas, getting only 3.2 out of a maximum of 100 points; the second worst performed, Slovakia, got 12.5 points, while the best performers got over 40.
Focus, the Slovenian NGO that published the report, said the score showed "a carbon neutral economy will not just happen automatically, it requires being goal-oriented and planning accordingly."
All member states, but Slovenia in particular, must improve the plans in the coming months; the final versions are due by the end of the year.
Slovenia's draft plan was drawn up by the Ministry of Infrastructure. One of its main aims is to reduce carbon emissions by 25% by 2030 compared to 2005.
A PDF of the full report can be found here
May 9, 2019
Environmentalists warn of imminent drinking water pollution for people living in the municipalities of Bled, Gorje, Žirovnica and Radovljica, whose water source is situated at Ovčja jama water protection area in Pernik.
Water originating from Triglav National Park is, or rather, should be, among that with the best quality in the entire country. Nevertheless, water coming from Pernik now has added chlorine since contamination with faeces was discovered several years ago due to the spread of farming on Mežakla and cutting down of the forests.
This April, a passer-by noticed a loaded truck from a construction company from Kranj driving up in Mežakla and unloading what appeared to be construction waste soil into a sinkhole in the otherwise pristine nature of a protected water area.
Bled Environmental Protection Society immediately informed the relevant authorities. The same day an inter-municipal inspector managed to catch the driver in action, and prevent any further dumping of the problematic soil.
When a few days ago the camera team of the national broadcaster headed to the site to take footage of the waste, the owner of the land first almost ran over the journalists with an excavator, then jumped out and scare them away with a pickaxe. The journalists called the police while the landowner and his son allegedly spent the night in a psychiatric ward in Begunje, claiming insanity.
The inspector ordered the problematic waste soil to be removed by the company that brought it there, while special supervision of the company’s activities has also been launched.
The problematic soil, which includes plastic, plaster, adhesives, concrete, asbestos plates and asphalt, according to the Bled Environmental Protection Society, for now remains where it is. However, according to colourant marker studies, conducted by the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Engineering of the University of Ljubljana, water from the problematic area in Mežakla can trickle down the karst floor to the drinking water wells area in a mere 13 hours.
STA, 26 April 2019 - The Farmers' Trade Union staged a protest on Friday, demanding that the government take immediate action, as a growing bear population is causing considerable damage to herds. Agriculture Ministry State Secretary Marko Maver promised farmers that an extraordinary kill measure would be ordered to mitigate the situation.
The protest was staged ten days after the Administrative Court sided with an environmental NGO that challenged the ministry's order to kill 200 bears this year.
The bear population is estimated at 750 in Slovenia, while in the early 1990s it was at 350. Currently, the population expands by 200 bears a year and could reach nearly 1,000 by the end of the year unless 200 are killed or relocated.
Unionist Roman Žveglič said that the ministry staff had listened carefully and promised to launch the measure of extraordinary killing in places where bears were causing the most damage.
Maver told the press that the ministry understood the distress of farmers. "We are all aware of the importance of sustainable management of bear population."
The ministry will moreover appeal the Administrative Court's decision and is drafting "additional documents on why the proposed number is justified," said Maver.
Žveglič said that in case the ministry failed to provide assistance, farmers would stage civil disobedience. "This means that we will start hunting wild animals ourselves, poisoning and shooting them."
At the rally, staged in front of the ministry, Florjan Peternel, a farmer from Ilirska Bistrica (SW), brought with him the remains of calves attacked by bears.
Until recently, his herd had no calves due to bear attacks in 2017 and 2018. "A fortnight ago, calvings started and 15 cows had calves. But yesterday, disaster struck. None survived."
All our stories about bears in Slovenia can be found here
The UK’s Ascent Resources PLC, often in the news in Slovenia for its attempts to increase production at its Petišovci gas field, issued 214.3 million shares earlier this week at £0.0035 (0.35 pence) per share, with the offer bought by a small number of institutional investors. A fell by over 20% after the share issue from the company says the funds raised are intended to reprocess 3D seismic data in relation to the Slovenian project, as well was as to pay for compression equipment, evaluate other regional opportunities and provide additional working capital.
While the company’s shares started the month at 0.20 pence, and jumped to 0.70 pence on April 8, with news that it had received a new permit from ARSOS, the Slovenian Environment Agency, they fell by over 20% after the share issue, and – at the time of writing – stand at 0.40 pence. The shares reached an all-time high of £5.85 in August 2007.
The Petišovci project has been the subject of some controversy and heated online debate, with some investors in the company alleging in correspondence with TSN that corruption at the highest levels of the Slovenian government has prevented the firm from developing its holdings there.
STA, 18 April 2019 - The air quality in Ljubljana today is significantly better than it was decades ago, Nataša Jazbinšek Seršen of the environment department of the Ljubljana city told the press on Thursday. One reason the situation has improved so drastically because increasingly many people cycle rather than drive a car in the city.
Contributing the most to air quality, however, was the development of the city's heating system, Jazbinšek Seršen said.
In 2015, 74% of the population used the system and the goal is to raise this share to 80% by 2024.
In recent years, the concentration of PM10 particles dropped significantly. In 2006, the daily PM10 statutory limit was exceeded 155 times in the Ljubljana city centre, while last year it was exceeded only 51 times, during the heating season.
The main source of PM10 particles are individual furnaces, including those in neighbouring municipalities, as well as fireplaces, which are becoming increasingly popular again.
Another emerging problem is nitrogen oxide, whose level has been rising not only in Ljubljana, but in other European cities as well. Jazbinšek Seršen said the reasons for the increase had not been officially confirmed yet, but experts suspect diesel vehicles.
Ljubljana has been expanding its heating and gas supply networks, and replacing coal with gas. In renovating public buildings, it strives for energy efficiency.
The city is also introducing various measures to discourage the use of small furnaces.
The capital is also encouraging alternatives to cars. By 2020, it would like people to conduct 35% of their journeys on foot, 16% by bicycle, 16% using public transport and 33% by car. "We have already reached the target share for going on foot," said Vita Kontić, another municipal official.
In 2013, about 11% of routes in the capital were made by bicycle and the goal of 16% has probably already been reached, but "we need a survey to confirm this," Kontić added.
Counters on seven locations around the city recorded 3.81 million bike rides in 2016, and 3.74 million in 2017.
Ljubljana boasts 260 kilometres of cycling routes and more than 10,000 bicycle stands. Cycling is also possible on more than 10 hectares of surfaces for pedestrians in the city centre.
The bicycle renting system BicikeLJ also gave a big boost to the cycling culture in the city. The system is expected to get 20 new stations soon.
Currently, it has 59 stations for the 590 bikes available for rent. Since May 2011, more than six million rides were recorded. The system has some 33,500 annual subscribers and a total of 131,000 users.
"Ljubljana boasts the highest number of bike rentals per number of inhabitants in the world," Kontić said.
In 2017, Ljubljana ranked eighth in the Copenhagenize Index of cyclist-friendliest cities in the world. The city eagerly awaits the new ranking to be released this year.