The effectiveness of protection policies and legislative framework with special regard to karst landscapes: Insights from Slovenia
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Karst terrain offers a great range of economic assets, provides unique habitats and valuable ecosystem services. Owing to its particular nature, this environment is highly susceptible to destruction. Any interference is likely to have irreversible impacts and disturb the natural balance of the elements (water, soil, flora and fauna) and processes (e.g. corrosion, CO2 sequestration, speleothem growth) that constitute it. Karst areas must therefore be holistically managed in an appropriate and careful manner. A critical overview of current protection legislation in Slovenia has been prepared, with particular reference to karst areas. The major problem is a lack of harmonised multi-sector policies regulating land use and planning throughout the karst region, the absence of detailed guidelines and insufficient pursuance of karst in all its complexity and vulnerability. A comprehensive management approach for karst areas has been proposed and could subsequently be adopted by other karst-rich countries. Management is based on the enforcement of karst-specific legislation, including provision of detailed management plans and their strict implementation. Common database maintenance, reconciliation between various stakeholders and raising public awareness are additional important parts of the approach.