About the project
The project “Conservation of Natura 2000 sites Kočevsko” or shorter LIFE Kočevsko deals comprehensively with the active protection of Natura 2000 sites Kočevsko. It complies with the other two components of sustainable development. The project is implemented under the LIFE + financial mechanism and is one of three Slovenian projects that were selected via calls for tender LIFE + 2013.
The project will run for 54 months, from its launch on 09.01.2014 to 28.02.2019. The project applicant is the Municipality of Kočevje. Project partners are the Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Nature Conservation, People’s University of Kočevje and Slovenia Forest Service. The total value of the project amounts to nearly 2.3 million. 50 percent of the project is funded from the programme.
The Kočevsko project area is famous for its extensive forests and is considered one of the most naturally preserved parts of Slovenia, and even Central Europe. Due to the conservation of nature, many species of European importance and priority find their refuge in forests. Therefore the whole Kočevska area is defined as a Natura 2000 site both under the Birds Directive (SPA Kočevsko) and under the Habitats Directive (SCI Kočevsko) as well.
Key threats that have been identified in the project area are failure to carry out active measures to ensure a favourable state of the priority species in the forest, ignoring the habitat requirements of target species in the management of wildlife, human disturbance in habitats of target species through the pollution of karst underground, through the illegal waste disposal, or through the excessive and uncontrolled use of manure in agriculture.
The main objective of the project is to take specific actions to preserve nature which will improve habitat conditions and consequently create a favourable conservation status for the highly threatened forest birds (grouse, hazel grouse, white-backed woodpecker and three-toed woodpecker), only a pair of white-tailed eagle in Kočevska and extremely vulnerable underground ecosystem with proteus as main indicators of the underground water state.
Within the project we will conduct various field test measures to increase amounts of dead biomass. Placing feeding fences will enrich nutritional base for forest chicken. We will insure a peaceful zone by setting up special traffic arrangements on forest roads. The protection of white-tailed eagle habitat will be addressed through the establishment of video surveillance over the nest and winter feeding station, establishing fishing regime by the lake and creating infrastructure with new educative trail, observation towers and info point for visitors in Kočevska Reka. We will conduct an extensive biological and chemical analysis of groundwater. The main focus will be on cleaning the most polluted water caves, closing their access with wooden and stone walls and extensive communication with the competent specialist services, the main groundwater polluters.
The project represents an upgrade to the existing system management Natura 2000 sites Kočevsko and will serve as an example of successful management of Natura 2000 sites in Slovenia, as well as in the wider Dinara region. An informal group “Forum for Kočevsko” will be created throughout the project which will include a wider range of stakeholders that will link individual institutions and local players and thereby ensure the continuous coordinated design solutions. The project will promote cooperation, information exchange and transfer of knowledge, experiences and best practices, thereby increasing the potential for continuous participation in joint projects at the local, regional and international level.