BEAVER IN LEGISLATION, REGULATIONS AND MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS
The Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) is protected by the European Habitat Directive (COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 92/43/EEC), it is included in Appendices II and IV (Appendix V applies to Finland and Sweden). Appendix II means that it is a species of community interest, for the preservation of which special conservation areas (the so-called Natura 2000 areas) must be designated. Appendix IV means an animal species of community interest that must be strictly protected.
In Slovenia, the beaver is protected by the Regulation on Protected Wild Animal Species (Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia, no. 46/04, 109/04, 84/05, 115/07, 32/08 – odl. US, 96/08, 36/ 09, 102/11, 15/14, 64/16 and 62/19), where it is included in Annex 1 (as a species whose animals are protected), in Annex 2 (as a species whose habitats are protected) and in Annex 6 (as a species subject to environmental liability). The beaver’s habitat, breeding grounds and resting places are also subject to environmental responsibility.
Beaver is also included in the Slovenian Natura 2000 Area Management Program (PUN), which defines specific goals and measures for individual qualifying species of Natura areas. For all of the listed Natura areas where the beaver is a qualifying species, the management goal is to determine the size of the beaver population and its habitat through monitoring and to prepare a beaver conservation strategy. Another goal is to investigate its population size as a function of habitat characteristics.
In addition, the conservation goals and measures for the protection of beavers in Natura areas include the preservation of riparian woody vegetation, the restoration of river connectivity prevented by artificial dams and barriers, the restoration of habitat without non-native invasive plant species, and for the Natura 2000 area Krakovski gozd also preservation of the lowland flood forest.
The beaver is also indirectly protected by Article 84 of the Slovenian Water Act (Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia, no. 67/02, 2/04 – ZZdrI-A, 41/04 – ZVO-1, 57/08, 57/12, 100/13, 40/14, 56/15 and 65/20), which stipulates that activities and spatial interventions that could prevent the existence and reproduction of aquatic and riparian organisms are prohibited on water and coastal land.
In Slovenia, the beaver is also listed on the Red List of Endangered Plant and Animal Species (Official List of the Republic of Slovenia, no. 82/02 and 42/10), where it is listed as an extinct species (Ex), while the newly established population is listed as endangered ( E).
The international IUCN Red List globally places the Eurasian beaver in the category of least concern species (LC – least concern).
The beaver has been spreading throughout Slovenia in recent years, and the number of reported damage cases has been increasing accordingly. Recorded damages are mainly in agriculture and fruit production, as well as material damage (fallen forest trees) and damage to fodder production.
With the LIFE Beaver project, we intend to demonstrate that fields and orchards can be protected from beavers in a relatively simple way. Unwanted floods can also be prevented either by appropriately lowering the beaver dam or by inserting a flow pipe into the dam.
However, it is also very important to respect the integrity of the coastal zones, as stipulated in Article 37 of the Water Act, and not interfere with these areas with our activities. The coastal strip along the streams is 5 m wide (measured from the edge of the bank) and 15 m wide in the case of rivers (40 m outside settlements).
In accordance with Articles 92 and 93 of the Nature Conservation Act (Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia, No. 96/04 – official consolidated text, 61/06 – ZDru-1, 8) and the provisions of the Game and Hunting Act (Official Gazette of the RS, No. 16/04, 120 /06 – dec US, 17/08, 46/14 – ZON-C, 31/18, 65/20 and 97/20 – appr.) compensations are paid for the damage caused by protected animal species.
However, damage compensation is paid only if the property has previously been secured with suitable protective measures (see Articles 92 and 93 of the Nature Conservation Act). Both the conditions for the payment of compensation and the appropriate methods of property protection are defined in the Rulebook on suitable methods of property protection and types of measures to prevent further damage to property (Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia, No. 74/05) and the Guidelines for actions in matters of enforcing compensation claims for damage caused by animals of protected wild species (last amendment no. 007-124/2015 dated 5 March 2015).
DAMAGE REPORTING AND COMPENSATION ENFORCEMENT PROCEDURE:
- A written report of damage must be sent to the Slovenia Forest Service (ZGS) within THREE DAYS of the occurrence of the damage.
- An authorized person must come to the scene of the event within TWO DAYS after the damage report and make a record of the damage. The ZGS representative and the person suffering damage can also invite other participants to the meeting.
- On the basis of examination the site of the damage event, the ZGS official and the person suffering damage can reach an agreement on the amount of compensation paid (up to the amount determined by the damage assessment scale, or at most up to the amount determined in the Compendium of Market Purchase Prices of Agricultural Products) and sign the agreement. The agreement must be reached immediately or within EIGHT DAYS from reporting the damage, The Ministry of Natural Resources and Spatial Planning is responsible for reviewing claims and deciding on compensation payment for the damage.
- In the case of other material damages, which are not determined by the previously mentioned damage assessment scale, a mutual agreement upon compensation up to the amount of EUR 450 can be reached between the ZGS representative and the person suffering damage alone.
- If the authorized person and the person suffering damage cannot agree upon the compensation, the injured party can submit a compensation claim to the Ministry within 30 days with additional justification (using the form Application for payment of compensation due to damage caused by animals of protected wildlife species.)
In Slovenia, we do not yet have a valid strategy for the management of beavers.
The expert standing for the conservation and sustainable management of beavers in Slovenia has already been prepared by the Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Nature Conservation, in agreement with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Spatial Planning.
Monitoring of the beaver and its habitat in Slovenia is implemented by the LUTRA Institute and financed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Spatial Planning. It is two-seasonal; it started in the 2022/2023 season and will finish in the 2023/2024 season.