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Slovenian and China wish to upgrade the 20 years of cooperation in karstology with cooperation in forestry

Kunming, Yunnan, 6 – 7 November 2016 – During his visit to China on Sunday the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, Dejan Židan, attended the international Mountain Farming Forum, which was held on the margins of the International Agricultural Trade Fair in Kunming. Among other things on Monday Minister Židan visited the Yunnan University and the Kunming Karstology Institute, which are marking 20 years of scientific cooperation.

 

On Sunday Minister Dejan Židan attended the international Mountain Farming Forum.  His speech highlighted that Slovenia places great emphasis on strengthening this economic cooperation, which was also proved by the Slovenian delegation’s visit to China and Slovenia's presence at the most important Agricultural Trade Fair in China. "These days, when I have had the opportunity to become acquainted with your province, I have realised that the chances for further cooperation are based on the similar natural features that condition agricultural production in Slovenia and the Yunnan province." In this context the Minister added that he realised that great variety in natural agricultural conditions is characteristic for this province, where mountain regions are predominant. According to the Minister Slovenia encounters similar conditions. "Slovenia is one of the EU Member States with the highest share of agricultural lands in so-called less favoured areas for agricultural activity; in particular Slovenia stands out with its share of lands in mountain areas, since it has 55.7% of all its agricultural lands in mountain areas." Minister Židan said that maintaining agriculture in mountain areas is very important for Slovenia, since this prevents overgrowth, preserves biotic diversity and agricultural landscapes, and ensures that rural areas in Slovenia remain populated.  "Due to the natural and structural characteristics of agricultural production, Slovenian food production is not a massive but a boutique production aimed at producing high-quality products distinguished by high added value." According to the Minister Slovenia is willing to share its experience in small plant production and processing, conservation of native animal breeds and plant varieties, product quality assurance and other questions. In his address the Minister mentioned good cooperation with Asian countries regarding forestry, since up to 60% of Slovenia’s surface is covered by forests.

 

On the occasion of his visit to Yunnan University Minister Dejan Židan expressed his support for the already strong cooperation in karstology and proposed strengthening additional scientific exchanges in forestry as well. The proposal was supported by the Chinese side, too. "This is a basis to include other areas; one of the possibilities is cooperation at the level of research and education in forestry," the Minister told the Slovenian Press Agency (STA). In the Group of 16+1 format of Central and Eastern European countries and China, Slovenia is heading the forestry sector. Chancellor of the Yunnan University, Yang Lin, considers their cooperation with Slovenian scientists as excellent and expressed his wish for an additional cooperation in the future. According to the Chancellor the visit from Slovenian political leadership means a new milestone in the scientific cooperation between the two countries. The 2 countries have been working together on karstology for 20 years already. The Yunnan University estate covers 800 hectares and includes 29 Faculties.  There are 30,000 students at the University, of whom 16,000 are post-graduate students. Among other possible areas of cooperation Chancellor Yang mentioned the protection of nature and natural resources and sustainable forest management.

 

The Minister also visited the Institute of Karst Geology in Kunming, where four Slovenian scientists are members of the Institute’s 14-member senate. The Slovenian Karst Research Institute, which has cooperated with the Chinese Institute of Karst Geology in an active exchange of professors and students for 20 years, will celebrate the 70th anniversary of its operation next year, and is one of the leading international research and education centres. The Head of the Slovenian Karst Research Institute, Tadej Slabe, explained to the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) that the Vice Minister of the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China had asked for Slovenian assistance in researching the Chinese karst. Two years ago an international centre was opened in Kunming for karst research, including a karstology laboratory, which was visited by Minister Židan. Among other things, Minister Židan visited the Stone Forest, a typical karst phenomenon that is also known in Slovenia. The Stone Forest of the Yunnan province has been placed on UNESCO's list of cultural heritage thanks to the Slovenian karstologists who helped their Chinese colleagues in drafting the documents required for placement on the list. 

 

The visit of the Minister and the accompanying political delegation will continue on Tuesday with talks in Beijing, where he will meet the management of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) of the People's Republic of China, and the management of the State Forestry Administration (SFA) of People's Republic of China.

 

 

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