Rainwater forest project (2005-2009)

In 2004, hurricane-force wind destruction at the foothills of the Tatra mountains uprooted 12,600 hectares of forest in Slovakia. The small Slovak country in the heart of Europe celebrates the Tatra mountains in its national anthem, and the loss of forest at such a scale was a national tragedy. The windstorm followed in the footpath of unusually warm weather system. After this disaster, the environmentalists and foresters learned a few essential lessons: monoculture forest is susceptible to the most extreme weather phenomenons, such as drought, windstorms, floods, and fires. The disease, such as bark beetle infestation, comes next.

People and Water NGO ran international ecological restoration efforts in 2005 to respond to windstorm destruction, especially as the townlets at the foothills of the mountains suffered flooding and fires.

The Vodny les project (Rainwater Forest project ) by the numbers:

– 4,000 small nature-related water conservation measures – on 3 sites – total 92 hectares restored – 34 thousand tree seedlings – 8 species of seedlings (spruce, deciduous larch, fir, pine, maple, beech, oak, rake). – more than 800 young volunteers scouts from 26 countries of the world worked on the project. – between 100 and 150 volunteers worked on the restoration every day. The result is a restored forest, growth of which is hydrated by the rainwater, remaining in the territory thanks to water conservation measures. The added bonus is the family of beavers that set up shop down the stream beneath the restored location about 10 years ago. Beavers contribute to the improvement of the water regime of the whole country. The current trends point to continued drying out of the Poprad Basin. There is a high probability that there will be a more powerful wind vortex with possibly fatal consequences on the protected areas of the High Tatras National Park in the future. It is simply not enough to conserve precious natural ecosystems close to human dwellings. The surrounding man-made landscape without rainwater protection continues to dry out the region and have devastating impacts on protected ecosystems. VODNY LES – a story of Forest Restoration through Rainwater conservation.

Funding: Slovenská Sporiteľňa.

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The idea of the impact of rainwater retention in ecosystems on strengthening ecosystem restoration processes in wind-damaged forests has been fully demonstrated. Not only do the planted trees thrive, but the grass vegetation is also very diversified with high ecological value. According to the monitoring of the restoration processes, this part of the Tatra is recovering the most vigorously.