Collective Governance of Ecosystem Services – Slovakia/Czech Republic

Collective action of self-organized long lasting institution to address the social dilemma of balancing individual interests to forest overuse over societal interest in sustainable forest ecosystem services provision. In particular climate regulation, biodiversity, recreation and education are concerned. The locations are in Forest commons (SK) and Land Trust Association Cmelak (CZ).

Biogeographical Region

Central, East

Ecosystem Services

Biodiversity, Timber, CO2 Sequestration

Initial Pioneer Innovations

Payment schemes

Innovation Stage

Articulation/ consolidating

What is the innovation about?

Traditional forest commons historical regime located in NP Nizke Tatry Slovakia, enabled evolution of robust governance and forest management regime adaptable for global challenges such as climate regulation and intention for carbon smart forestry contribution to multifunctional forestry and well-being.

In Czech Republic civic association Land trust Cmelak is new institution created by self-organised regime. The land trust is raising funds for their activities, i.a. by selling “certificates of patronage”. A buyer of the certificate becomes a “patron” of certain m2 of “New Virgin Forest” – old spruce monoculture is replaced by close-to-nature forest. Thus buyers of certificates are participating on creation of long-lasting institution – new commons.

What makes this innovation a good example?

Long lasting common pool resource regime (regardless historical or created) provide evidence how to respond to societal and environmental challenges via self-organizing activities. Self-organization of forest ecosystem services based on adaptability and flexibility of members in forest commons and land trusts (non-governmental organization) – enables innovative practices in forest management to support the provision of non-wood forest products and services, in particular is enabling the evolution of nature-based forestry.

Where is the case study innovation located?

Slovak forest commons Hybe are located in the largest Slovak National Park, the Nízke Tatry (72,842 ha, with buffer zone 110,162 ha).

Czech part of the case study is located in Liberec Region, northern part of Czech Republic. The altitude is between 350-850 m.a.s.l.

Slovakia: The national park is situated in central Slovakia, in Western Carpathian Mountains. The altitude of selected forest sites is between 700-1700 m.a.s.l. The territory of Nízke Tatry has had significant human intervention in comparison to the other Carpathian Mountains, chiefly a substantial change in tree species composition, particularly in favour of spruce and pine (NLC, 2016). The state owns 61.90% of the national park territory and the rest (38.10%) is owned by forest commons (28.3%), municipalities (5.4%), individuals (2.5%) and others. The part of case study located in Slovakia is focused on the forest commons in this area.

The Czech Republic: Since 2004 the land trust has bought out 35 ha of land in this area, which was mostly covered by spruce monoculture (ca 50 years old trees). These monocultures were planted in place of meadows. Many of the trees were destroyed by deer and other animals. Small and fragmented parts of the area were covered by young beech-maple stands, old beech stands and islands of beech trees, maples, cranes and willows. There is relatively small but unique old deciduous forest with elms, limes and cherries. The land trust is continuously little by little changing this area to close-to-nature forests called “new virgin forest”. Till these days they have planted more than 70,000 seedlings there, other parts of the area are left to natural afforestation.

When was the innovation established, and by whom?

With renationalisation of land and return to property rights in early 90s of Central European forestry. Market pressure increased demand for production services and seriously effected quality and capacity of forests resulting in mobilisation of communities for self-organisation.

In Central Slovakia local community changed their forest management practices to those close to carbon forestry and thus increase the forest resilience. The storm, that was widespread due to the strict static environmental regulation, destroyed a significant part of the forests in National Park Nízke Tatry. These natural disturbances have caused significant forest damage resulting in further land devastation and economic losses for the local community. This trigger started development of innovative activities, however, development of payment schemes for ecosystem services is in the process under the InnoForESt project. Czech Land Trust Cmelak has been using certificates since 2004 (for adoption of a forest and financing the re-naturalization of old spruce forests).

Why was the innovation established?

Wind storm represents critical stress factor for Central European, followed by bark beetle infestation and market pressure it end ups with conflict of production over conservation of forest.

There are multiple reasons for the start of innovative activities:

  • needs of forest community: survival after storms natural and social disturbances (SK)
  • higher environmental quality, such as building forests’ resilience and new virgin forest (CZ/SK)
  • need for additional financial resources (CZ/SK)
  • resolving conflicts inside of the community – individual versus collective interests (SK)
  • demographic change, such as migration of young people, aging population (SK)
  • culture/identity to sustain inherited forests and local knowledge of forest management (SK)
  • better promotion of the activities (CZ)

Who is benefiting from the innovation?

Members of local forest community but also wider society – multiple ecosystem services are provided by forests (mostly regulation and cultural services).

Does the innovation need particular natural conditions to work? If so, what kind?

Forest and its biodiversity

Does the innovation need particular forest management strategies to work? If so, what kind?

It needs a forest management plan, a nature conservation strategy and a carbon smart forestry management plan.

Does the innovation need particular policies, stakeholder, or market conditions to work? If so, which one?

There is a need to set up payment scheme for ecosystem services in carbon smart forestry to stimulate/ increase the intensity of use carbon smart forestry practices.

What are the main difficulties for the innovation to work?

Lack of general national policies to support forest policy and governance innovations (PES and carbon smart forestry) and lack of incentives to motivate/stimulate behavioral change to forest multifunctionality.

Where would you like to see the innovation in five years?

Scaling out initial payments for ecosystem services to increase donors/patrons, regular donations, and new payment incentive such as new market products.

How might InnoForESt help you in this endeavor?

To exchange international knowledge about application of voluntary payments for ecosystem services in forest management. To define optimal rules for payments for ecosystem services and for effective implementation of innovative forest governance.

Transfer on knowledge how exploit the non-wood forest products and services (new innovative mechanism) for financing environmental friendly activities in forest or for compensation for lost profits caused by reduction of harvesting activities.

Is there more information on the innovation available?

  • Kluvánková, T; Gežík, V., 2016. Survival of commons? Institutions for robust forest social – ecological systems. Journal of Forest Economics 24:175-185.
  • Brnkaľáková, S., 2016. Adaptive management of mountain ecosystem services. PhD thesis. Slovak University of Technology. 125 pp.

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