Luxembourg, 3-3-2014 — /EuropaWire/ — The European Investment Bank (EIB) is lending EUR 120 million to finance projects contributing to afforestation, improved forest protection and management and the upgrading of agricultural infrastructure in rural Slovakia.
EIB Vice-President László Baranyay, responsible for lending operations in Slovakia, stated: “I am very pleased that EIB funds will be used to finance forestry projects for the first time in Slovakia, a country where forests, which cover 40% of the land, have an important function. The project will have considerable environmental benefits in terms of improved forest ecosystem health and increased greenhouse gas sequestration and renewable energy production. It will also generate new employment throughout the country.”
The EIB loan will contribute to the implementation of Slovakia’s first comprehensive Rural Development Programme. It will support the rehabilitation and improved management and protection of more than 50 000 ha of forest damaged by storms, pest outbreaks and fires, including the repair and construction of 280 km of forest access roads to facilitate forest conservation and management operations.
The project will also improve the environmental performance of at least 2 000 farms by reducing surface and groundwater pollution from animal farming and boost the production of renewable energy, mostly from biogas and biomass. In particular, better nutrient management will reduce water pollution from livestock farming activities and improve the management of water resources. This will contribute to Slovakia’s compliance with the EU Nitrates Directive and the country’s progress towards meeting the requirements of the Water Framework Directive, particularly through the reduction of nitrate and phosphate pollution arising from agricultural activities.
The project contributes specifically to the EU’s growth and jobs strategy by creating new jobs during implementation and thus supporting growth and employment in rural communities throughout Slovakia and also by fostering the development of agro-tourism.
The project promoter is the Slovak Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The final beneficiaries are public and private entities receiving support from the Rural Development Programme, including SMEs.
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