ljubljansko barje

Peat cutting

During the centuries, when humans were not you encroaching upon natural processes at the Barje, a great quantity of peat piled up - from two to quite unbelievable nine metres here and there. Tradition says that once upon a time the belfry of the Ig church could not be seen from Lavrica due to the height of the accumulated peat. Farming, which in spite of some great efforts and investments did not yield the expected results, was gradually abandoned and replaced by intensive digging of peat, which brought the people much higher earnings. The peat cutting expanded into a true industry, for peat was used not only by the Ljubljana people for heating, but it also propelled trains, steamships, sugar refinery, gunpowder factory... Still, it ran out much quicker than expected. The floor subsided, and water yet again returned to the Barje, becoming an object of derision to the century-old attempts to drain the water from it.

In the 1850s, the peat supplies seemed inexhaustible. A very accurate mathematical calculation showed that with its not at all modest annual consumption in private and industrial furnaces, the accumulated peat would suffice for further 659 years. But they forgot that once the peat is cut it begins to sink into itself and moulder.

Man, however, is a stubborn creature. The greater part of the twentieth century was yet again dedicated by a whole series of people to the plans "for this time indeed final drainage of the Barje". The technology changed, but not the idea itself. Additional deepening of riverbeds, reservoirs, dykes, drainage channels, pumping stations etc. were a constant in the development plans of the municipal authorities until no less than the 1980s. At that time, the inflation of great promises about a better life was met by reality in the form of insufficient money as well as in the shape of increasingly louder warnings by nature lovers. In a millennium long mutual struggle and love, man and nature created an exceptional interlacement of natural and cultural values.