The conservation and restoration of valuable habitats in National Park Pieniny as a model example for large scale protected areas in Slovakia

The agricultural subsidy system in Slovakia has changed very significantly since joining EU in May 2004. Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS) was established for the administration of the subsidies. It consists of production blocks, polygons digitized on ortophotomaps, representing the pieces of the land eligible for the subsidies. The system is reflecting the reality in the field very well, but it is not compatible with traditional land cadastre, which registers land ownership. Large areas of grassland (more than 300,000 hectares in whole Slovakia) are registered in cadastre was grassland, but they are not registered in LPIS because of massive overgrowing by trees and shrubs. They are called "white areas". This degradation has accelerated especially in last decade, when the number of cattle in Slovakia has dropped to one third of previous state. Since joining EU the farmers are much more motivated to manage grassland and the situation is stabilizing, but there is no subsidy title for grassland restoration, even the farmers would be interested in. It is a serious problem, because substantial part of so called "white areas" is covered by very valuable grassland habitats. For example, preliminary analysis showed 269 hectares of the white areas with biodiversity value in the National Park Pieniny. National Park Pieniny is situated in northern part of Slovakia, along the border with Poland. It was established in 1967 on the area of 2,125 ha. In 1997, the area of the park was enlarged to 3,750 ha, with buffer zone of 22,444 ha. On the Polish side of the border there is also national park on the area of 2,346 hectares. Most of area of the park is covered by grassland and forest habitats. Forest covers approximately 1400 hectares, the most widespread are different habitats of the beech forests, smaller patches are covered by Tilio-Acerion scree forests or by relic pine forests. Grassland habitats are mostly represented by lowland and mountain hay meadows and mesophilous pastures. Relatively large proportion of grassland area is covered by dry grasslands. Wet meadows and fens are rarer, but they are very important habitat contributing significantly to the biodiversity within the park. Except for forest and grassland habitats, other habitat types are present as well. Very frequent are rocky habitats on calcareous substrate, very important are also river-bank habitats.


The aim of the project was the preservation and restoration of the biodiversity and landscape of the National Park Pieniny with special focus on valuable grassland and forest habitats. Specific targets were:


  • Application of the restoration measures on degraded species-rich grasslands and promotion of their further sustainable use,
  • Increase of the awareness of land users and owners on the management requirements of different habitats and establishment of an efficient advisory system providing the information on financial sources for habitat management,
  • Incorporation of land users to the practical restoration and management of grassland habitats in the park.

The project resulted in restoration of more than 60 ha of 'white areas' in the Pieniny national park by close cooperation between the park administration, communities, private land owners and the project team.For a full overview of the results see the project report (German only).