The history of forest management in the landscape park spans several centuries and is closely related to the history of the Idrija mercury mine, which was opened at the end of the 15th century. At that time, an almost five-hundred-year period of exploitation of Idrija forests began in order to fulfil the needs of the mine, where the timber was required for smelting ore, for support beams, and for construction. According to some estimates, the mine consumed up to 6,300 m3 of wood each year, which adds up to more than 3 million m3 of wood throughout the history of the mine’s operation (Kordiš, 1986).
Timber was first cut in the vicinity of the mine, so the nearby forests were soon exhausted. At the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, this led to the exploitation of more remote forests, higher up along the Idrijca and its tributaries. Due to the characteristics of the terrain, special wood harvesting techniques were used, such as floating wood down rivers with the help of water barriers (klavže), log flumes, carts pulled by beasts-of-burden, and forest railways (called laufi, singular lauf).
In the 20th century, the mining forests became state property. Today, as much as 90% of the area of Idrija forests is in state ownership. However, the region of Idrija continues its rich tradition of planned forest management (Pelhan, 2004).
At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, a system of forest roads and a train began to be built in these forests, which facilitated the harvest of wood. Forest cable cars were used to transport the wood out of steep areas; among these, the Idrija log puller machine and the Idrija cart are particularly well-known from the recent past. Despite the technological progress, wood harvesting with horses is still in use, which is mainly used for thinning young forests, as harvesting by tractors would cause too much damage to them.
Gnezda cable log puller machine (Idrija log puller)
With the building of forest roads to transport timber from distant forests at the beginning of the 19th century, many wood-rich forests remained inaccessible due to steep slopes. Štefan Gnezda, a native of Vojsko, born in 1907 at the Pr’ Baštet homestead, constructed the first cable log puller in Slovenia in 1928. At first he used wire ties, pulleys and an ox-drawn wooden winch, but in 1932 he adapted an old truck to serve as the motor for a wire crane. In this way, it was possible to collect wood even from steep and difficult-to-access slopes, and there was less damage to forest trees and soil. Today, the device, which operated until 1964 and is of great importance for the development of the cableway industry in Slovenia, can be seen in the Technical Museum of Slovenia in Bistra near Vrhnika. A model of the device stands in Vojsko near the homestead where Gnezda was born.