Wood is something of which Slovenia will never be short. One of the most densely forested countries in Europe, a not insignificant slice of Slovenia’s economy is reliant upon the raw material itself and a myriad of wood and paper products. Indeed, you might well have seen tissues in British shops manufactured by the Sladki Vrh based company Paloma.
Slovenia’s forests took a battering by the ice storms of last winter when a large amount of timber was destroyed or severely damaged, resulting in a severe loss of revenue for estate owners and the country as a whole. The process of clearing up the forests became an extremely hazardous business which sadly brought about many deaths and serious injuries amongst experienced forestry workers, landowners and those who overreached way beyond their skills and capabilities. I for one noticed – albeit in June 2013 – in the forest between the Vogel gondola top-station at Rjava Skala and the precipitous hike down through the trees to the Hotel Bellevue above Ribcev Laz an alarming amount of trees infected with bracket fungus which had either been chopped down or, had been earmarked for imminent destruction. Sadly, the custodian of these trees had thoughtlessly left many of the already felled trees across the marked path, a trail that at the best of times is hard to follow, notwithstanding the mandatory red and white circle waymarks. After much hurdling of and climbing over severed boughs I arrived at the Bellevue after a walk I would not wish to repeat, such was the unexpectedly difficult terrain and the time it took to arrive at my destination.
Wood-processing in the Bohinj and Bled regions is understandably a multi-million Euro(€) business, with combined employment at the two points amounting to close to 500 personnel. Despite Slovenia for the time being at least being labeled as a country not particularly conducive to foreign investment, talks are ongoing with the Austrian company Hasslacher GmbH over the possible investment in a new wood processing centre in Bohinjska Bistrica. Both the Bled and Bohinj arms of the LIP timber-products company are trading in the black, a rarity indeed in troubled modern-day Slovenia. Whilst it is accepted throughout the industry that competitively Scandinavian and Canadian businesses lead the way it is surely heartening that confidence within the Slovenian timber-industry remains cautiously strong, particularly buoyed by a recent appearance at Europe’s largest construction trade fair in Munich.
Nobody can doubt that the levels of expertise and experience in the Slovenian timber-industry compare favourably to the sheer volume of the necessary raw material found in the country. While there is so much bad news encircling Slovenia’s economy is it therefore pleasing to publicise an economic success-story that bows the knee to no one, worldwide or pan-European.
Further reporting on this issue can be viewed on the Gorenjska Glas website: Bohinj and Bled see the wood for the trees