History

Forestry as a purposeful activity dated back to the 16 th century. Organisational development of forestry is mainly concerned with the royal and, later on, with the chamber forests, which counted for about 15 % of the Slovak area in the first half of the 19 th century. The rest belonged to squirarches and other land owners, the church, composesorats, municipalities, shared ownership corporations and other users. However, development in forestry was determined by chamber organisations. They issued forest orders and legislative amendments and thus influenced to a significant extent the other forest owners. Until the Enlightenment, these forests represented only an operative department of the mining and metallurgical administration even if they were operationally independent. The relation between the mining administration and progressive forestry representatives had a tendency for gradual independency of forestry.

In 1850, the Main Chamber and Count Office in Banská Bystrica was renamed to the Imperial and Royal Hungarian Directorate of Mines, Forests and Estates. This directorate managed several forest offices, which was a sign of the recession of mining administration at the position of unlimited ruler over forest wealth and brought a new view on the land as a source of food and renewable industrial raw materials, considering wood as one of the most important ones. Forestry production, however, was subjected to the interests of mines and smelteries that used the revenues gained from wood and other forest products to cover the deficit mining production. However, investments to the forestry in order to improve its conditions were insignificant.

From the viewpoint of forest science, the level of basic forest activities – regeneration and silviculture was unsatisfactory. The mining officers were still in charge of forest works and this was reflected in the level of their quality. Even for educated foresters, who had an encyclopeadical knowledge, it was difficult to find an appropriate job. However, the state administration became gradually convinced that forestry itself, professionally and rationally managed, could be efficient. The developing public railway transport offered better possibilities for the sales of forest production. Sawmilling, furniture production and pulp and paper industry started to develop.

These circumstances and the help of many influential forestry personalities and the Country Forestry Association inspired the Austria-Hungarian Ministry of Finances, as the sectoral body, to separate absolutely forestry from the chamber mining industry. After the previous approval of the ruler, the Directorate of State Estates Banská Bystrica was established on January 1, 1871. It started to operate on March 1, 1871 in Banská Štaivnica and, later on, was moved to Banská Bystrica on July 1, 1871. It inherited the administration of all former forest and agricultural estates belonging to the Main Chamber and Count Office and the Directorate of Mines, Forests and Estates in Banská Štiavnica.

At that time, in the traditional forestry region of Liptov and Pohronie, the first organisation of state forests and estates was established in Slovakia. Since 1880, this organisation had been called the Directorate of Forests and Estates in Banská Bystrica. The Directorate was divided into five forest offices (Žarnovica, Kremnica, Banská Bystrica, Brezno, Liptovský Hrádok) and thirty forest districts. In 1872, forests of Smolenice district were separated from the mining industry and the sixth Forest Office in Solivar, consisting of five forest districts in Slovakia and other four in Hungary, was founded. The organisation structure of state forest management was as follows:

Ministry of Finances
Directorate of State Estates
Forest offices
Forest districts

This organisation structure remained unchanged until 1881. The Austria-Hungarian Ministry of Finances by its memorandum of August 21, 1880 decided on the separation of agricultural estates from forestry and by the following regulation of December 27, 1880 cancelled the Directorate of State Estates, activities of which were overtaken by the Directorate of State Forests in Banská Bystrica on January 1, 1881.

At the same time, this regulation No. 73944 cancelled Forest Offices in Banská Bystrica, Brezno and in Kremnica - the forests of which were taken by the Forest Office in Žarnovica. The Forest Office in Liptovský Hrádok was renamed to the Main Forest Office. The Directorate of State Forests started to be managed directly by the Ministry of Ploughing, Industry and Trade.

In 1887, the office of the Forest Inspection Officer was established in Brezno and in 1915 so called “forest inspections” were established at the Directorate of State Forests in Banská Bystrica. The mentioned organisation structure remained unchanged until 1918.

The formation of the I. Czechoslovak Republic ( Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, Slovakia, and the Carpathian Russia) is dated on October 28, 1918. State forests (19.3 %) were supervised by the Ministry of Agriculture in Prague. In 1922, state public administration in Slovakia had the same specialisation as in the former Hungary and the state forests were managed according to the law article No. 31/1879. The forest inspectorates remained in supervision of the forests and the state forest offices, including country forest districts, supervised the administration of forests in the use of the state according to the article No. 19/1898.

In December 10, 1918 the Ministry with the general power for Slovakia was established. There was a process of gradual and difficult transition of forest administration from Hungarian forest organisation to the hands of the mentioned Czechoslovak Ministry of Agriculture. Former forest offices and main forest offices were renamed to directorates of state forests. In Slovakia, there were 4 directorates of state forests established (Banská Bystrica, Žarnovica, Liptovský Hrádok, Solivar) and the Directorate of State Forests in Banská Bystrica, under supervision of the first director Július Indra, managed the largest area of forests (92 574 ha). Directorates of state forests were also established in Zvolen and Oravský Podzámok (Orava composesorat with a partial ownership of the state). The General Directorate of State Forests and Estates was established at the Ministry of Agriculture in Prague and, later on, was renamed to the Central Directorate of State Forests and Estates (according to the government regulation No. 206/1924).

In 1925 the state forests were organised as a state enterprise “State Forests and Estates” (Act No. 404/1922 and government regulation of the year 1924). After the land reform the forests of Horehronie region, former Coburg forests, were assigned to the Banská Bystrica directorate.

A new reorganisation of the State Forests and Estates took place on January 1, 1935. The basic organisation units were specialised local administrations. The structure was as follows:

Central Directorate of State Forests and Estates - Prague
Directorates of State Forests and Estates
Local offices of:
- state forests,
- state estates,
- industrial plants (sawmills),
- forest railways.

Local offices consisted of districts and forest protection areas. Between 1935 and 1946, the organisation structure has not significantly changed except of the changes resulting from the state and legislation changes in 1938 when the Ministry of Agriculture in Prague (November 18, 1938), based on the decision of the Slovak government, announced the foundation of the Central Directorate of State Forests and Estates of the Slovak Republic seated temporary in Prague and moved to Bratislava later on. This Directorate moved to Zvolen on March 1, 1944.

After the II. World War, according to the government regulation No. 40/1946 the Directorate of State Forests and Estates was divided into two independent companies – State Forests and State Estates. State steam sawmills and timber yards were separated from the State Forests.

A significant reorganisation of state forests occurred during 1948 when “Directorates of State Forests” were cancelled and the “ County Directorate of Czechoslovak State Forests in Bratislava” was established. Former state forest districts were transformed to directorates of state forests. Within the directorates, there were county commissioners working in order to control and supervise “county forest inspectors” and other forestry organisation units.

The mentioned organisation arrangement seemed to be cumbersome so that another reorganisation took place in 1950. New “county inspectorates” were established and the former “directorates of state forests” were renamed to forest enterprises.

“County offices of forests for regeneration, silviculture and protection of forests” and “county forest industries for harvesting, manipulation, transport and sale of wood” were established on January 1, 1952. The newly established “Commission of forests and wood industry in Bratislava” was their supervision body.

The above mentioned organisation changes did not eliminate disproportions between the development of forestry and wood processing industry. Therefore, new management organisations were established – county offices of forests. Newly established forest enterprises, which managed forest districts, worked simultaneously with the enterprises of forestry and technical amelioration and torrent regulation.

Another reorganisation of state forests took place on July 1, 1960. Forests were shifted under the direct management of the Administration of Forestry at the Ministry of Forestry and Water Management in Prague. County forest offices were cancelled and, instead of them, enterprise directorates of state forests were established. In Slovakia, there were four enterprise directorates of state forests (Banská Bystrica, Pezinok, Žilina a Košice) and the Forestry Office in Topolcianky created. This reorganisation did not affected forest enterprises and their units. The period between 1961–1968 was characterised by strengthening of the enterprise sphere.

Significant changes in the system of state government in 1968 (creation of national and federal bodies) resulted also in changes in forestry. New national ministries of forestry and water management were founded in the Czech Socialistic Republic and the Slovak Socialistic Republic. Gradually, during 1973 and 1974, there were three levels of intra -enterprise management created: enterprise directorates – forest enterprises – forest districts. The number of enterprises declined by one half, the area of forest districts increased and new types of special offices were created – the transport and manipulation unit, technical unit and centres (forest nurseries, sawmills and others). The Ministry of Forestry and Water Management of the Slovak Socialistic Republic established five enterprises of state forests and other forestry organisations such were for example Machine-Works of State Forests in Slovenská Lupca, Forest Research Institute in Zvolen, Institute for Training and Education of Forestry and Water Management Staff in Zvolen, Forest Management Institute in Zvolen, Office of Tatra National Park in Tatranská Lomnica.

In May 1988, the Ministry of Forestry, Water Management and Wood Processing Industry of the SSR was founded. The organisation and management structure continued to change significantly. After the social and political changes in 1989 and the new territorial and legal organisation of the Slovak Republic, many forest enterprises were cancelled.

In 1991, beside four big forest enterprises (West Slovak Forests, state enterprise; Central Slovak Forests, state enterprise; North Slovak Forests, state enterprise, and East Slovak Forests, state enterprise) there were other forest enterprises established – Forests Benuš, Podolínec, Malacky, Smolenice, and Topolcianky. According to the Act No. 229/91 and owing to the physical restitution of forests to the former owners, the forest area of the state managed forests decreased and production volume and staff number also declined. In order to find the optimal variants of state forest management, different permanent reorganisations took place. After the territorial reorganisation of the state in 1996, former West Slovak Forests, state enterprise were transformed to Forests Bratislava, state enterprise and Forests Trencín, state enterprise and East Slovak Forests, state enterprise were transformed to Forests Prešov, state enterprise and Forests Košice, state enterprise.

The most significant reorganisation took place in 1999, when the minister of agriculture in his regulation No. 2795-1999-420 of April 4, 1999 established one state enterprise Forests of the Slovak Republic seated in Banská Bystrica. The enterprise was founded as a public welfare enterprise on July 1, 1999 by merging of state forest enterprises Forests Bratislava, Forests Trencín, Central Slovak Forests Banská Bystrica, North Slovak Forests Žilina, Forests Košice, Forests Prešov and Semenoles Liptovský Hrádok. The foundation charter was issued by the Ministry of Agriculture of the Slovak Republic on June 23, 1999 and the enterprise was registered with the trade register on October 29, 1999.The General Directorate supervises 26 forest enterprises seated in Šaštín, Smolenice, Palárikovo, Levice, Topolcianky, Prievidza, Trencín, Považská Bystrica, Žilina, Cadca (Krásno nad Kysucou), Námestovo, Liptovský Hrádok, Benuš, Cierny Balog, Slovenská Lupca, Žarnovica, Krupina, Kriván, Hnúšta, Revúca, Rožnava, Košice, Prešov, Poprad, Bardejov, Vranov nad Toplou, Sobrance and 2 specialised enterprises – Enterprise of Forest Technique in Banská Bystrica and Semenoles in Liptovský Hrádok.

Ing. Stanislav Vyhnálik

References:

Róbert Binder : Osadníci na Horehroní,
Stredoslovenské vydavatelstvo 1962

Milan Schrötter : Kronika podniku
(prvopis)

Jozef Urgela : Dejiny lesníckeho školstva a vedy na Slovensku,
Martin 1985

Pavel Zdycha, Vladimír Durcík, Jozef Urgela : Dejiny lesníctva,
TU Zvolen, 1998

Martin Žilka : História banskobystrických lesov
(prvopis 1997)