The European investment Bank is lending €120 million to finance projects for afforestation, protection of forests and better management of agricultural infrastructure in rural Slovakia as part of the country’s first comprehensive Rural Development Programme.
The programme is being actively promoted by the Slovak Ministry of Agriculture and Development. The final beneficiaries are public and private entities, including SMEs.
Forty percent of Slovakia’s territory is covered by forests; the loan will support the rehabilitation and protection of more than 50,000 hectares of forest that have been damaged by storms, pestilence and fires. This includes the repair and further construction of 280km of access roads to facilitate conservation and management operations.
The Rural Development Programme also aims to improve the environmental sustainability of at least 2,000 farms by reducing surface and groundwater pollution from animal farming, as well as boosting the production of renewable energies like biogas.
In particular, an upgrade in water management will improve water quality and the general management of water resources; lowering the levels of nitrate and phosphate pollution that arise from agricultural practices would help Slovakia comply with the EU Nitrates Directive and bolster its efforts to meet the requirements of the Water Framework Directive.