Given their primary functions, Slovak forests fall into three main categories: production, protecti on and special-purpose forests. All forests regardless of their category provide a whole host of different services and benefits (over 90 % of all forests are so-called polyfunctional forests). Most forests fall into the production category. Producti on forests cover 1.397 million ha, or 71.93 % of the total area of forest crop land. Their primary function is the production of high grade timber without compromising other important ecological and social functions, support for which is provided through appropriate management measures applied in the framework of integrated forest management.
Since 2000, the area of production forests has increased by 5.6%, but compared to 1980, their area has decreased by 5.4%. These dynamic changes reflect ever changing requirements for the designati on of new special-purpose forests. Forests with primarily an ecological nature to their services and benefi ts are designated as protection forests. Their primary function is determined by natural conditions. These forests are of high societal importance as they protect soils, water resources and infrastructure. The main management objective in these forests is to ensure sustainable fulfilment of their ecological services. Their area has been slowly increasing over the years and reached 334 500 ha (17.23%) in 2015.
Social and cultural functions are most important in forests, which due to their specific societal or group benefits, have been given the status of special-purpose forests. They are under special (functionally differenti ated) management with purposeful enhancement of one or more selected functions including water purification, recreation, nature conservation, spa & wellness, education & research, game husbandry, etc. The delivery of services and benefits associated with these functi ons restricts standard management practi ces in forests. The present area of special-purpose forests is 210 700 ha (10.84%). The area of these forests has reduced since 2000, mainly due to the exclusion of the sub-category of air pollution mitigati on forests from this category, but also due to lower interest of applicants for the designati on of these forests (they are designated based on the applicati on for the duration of the forest management programmes).