Driving Forces, Threats and Trends Relating to Mosaics in Agricultural Landscape in Slovakia

Jana Spulerova 1 , Marta Dobrovodská 1  and Dagmar Stefunkova 1
  • 1 Institute of Landscape Ecology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Stefanikova 3, 814 99 Bratislava, Slovakia

Driving Forces, Threats and Trends Relating to Mosaics in Agricultural Landscape in Slovakia

The present cultural landscape is a result of development which has been carried out for several thousand years. The land - use changes, driving forces, threats and trends relating to agricultural landscape mosaics in Slovakia were studied using examples of model areas with preserved landscape mosaics: the villages Zuberec - Habovka, Liptovská Teplička, Osturňa and the town of Svätý Jur.

The primary land cover of the Slovak republic was mostly forest. The outstanding feature of the landscape, as a result of settlement, deforestation and colonisation, was a landscape characterised by a high biodiversity and cultural mosaic because of the heterogeneity of land forms and cover, relief segmentation, and a variety of farming products. The most important interventions in the landscape started in the second half of the 20th century. Intensification of agriculture was linked with collectivisation and removal of hedges and riparian vegetation, decreasing the mosaic of arable fields, grasslands and woods. Landscape mosaics were transformed into large fields. Only in less accessible, less fertile localities was the original agricultural landscape partially preserved, and did not lose the shape of a cultural-historical countryside. At the same time, partial abandonment and reforestation has started as a consequence of changes in employment patterns and the decline of populations.

After 1990 the landscape was partly retrospectively diversified by virtue of land restitution. Although the decline of the traditional use of farmland is noticeable in Slovakia, in some regions local inhabitants are strongly linked to traditional land use. In less accessible, less fertile localities, abandonment of traditional agriculture and succession dominance of forest continues. The challenge to maintain the original agrarian landscape could be supported by agro-environmental schemes. However, localities with beneficial geographical positions are threatened. The town of Svätý Jur faces non-regulated urbanisation, old vineyards are being replaced by new villas and houses for recreation. The villages of Zuberec - Habovka face non regulated tourism. The marginal sites, Osturňa, Liptovská Teplička are threatened by abandonment and the subsequent overgrowth by woody vegetation.

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