Monday, 12 July 2021

Split Eyesore Almost Gone? Adris Group Could Begin Works on Marjan Hotel in September

July 12, 2021 - Works on Marjan hotel could begin by Rovinj's Adris Group already this September! 

By applying for a building permit on May 3 this year, which was completed on July 5 or became administratively filed, a new important step was made to prepare for the reconstruction of the Marjan Hotel, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

These data were published in the information system of the Ministry of Physical Planning. Slobodna Dalmacija received confirmation from the owner of the unfinished building on the West Coast, Rovinj's Adris Group, who stated that "in cooperation with the City and relevant institutions, they have completed the necessary documentation for the reconstruction of Marjan, after which the works on the facility itself will begin." 

A few months ago, amendments to the location permit to reconstruct a building for catering and tourism purposes, i.e., a tourist facility with 285 accommodation units and a 5-star category, were obtained.

Boris Marelja, the head of the city's Administrative Department for Spatial Planning, Development, and Environmental Protection, said that an e-conference had been launched that will last 15 days, with the participation of public bodies, including HEP, Vodovod i kanalizacija and MUP to make any remarks before confirming the main project. After that part of the proceedings, the neighbors and other parties will have the right to inspect the file, also with a deadline of 15 days.

The speed with which the permit will be issued and become final depends on the possible objections. Of course, Marelja did not want to go into forecasts, and a rough calculation points to 45 days if there are no major objections. According to the information available, there should not be any, primarily because the documentation is well prepared, and it is not surprising if it is known that the Adris Group is a serious and reputable investor in the hotel and tourism industry.

According to the mentioned calculation of 45 days, the first works could follow in September this year. However, it should be reminded that this will not be construction, but the removal of "unwanted" or "superfluous" parts of the building.

Of course, Marjan will not be completely demolished as it was announced in the media, but according to the plans of former owner Željko Kerum and Jerko Rošin, there should be apartments. There is no doubt that the glass will be removed from the facade.

According to the announcement in September last year, the new hotel tower should have a height equal to the previous one after the planned project, but with one floor less as they will raise the individual floors. Raising the floors is logical and necessary to set up installations for various facilities, which did not exist when the hotel was built.

Zagreb-based architectural studio '3LHD' and renowned Italian architect and designer Piero Lissoni are working on the demanding project. In a Jutarnji List statement last year, Sasa Begovic briefly commented on the Marjan project: "We are doing a creative reinterpretation of the hotel built by Perković. We are also planning a smaller number of rooms and terraces with a view."

The designer of the first A deluxe hotel in Split, with 220 rooms, was, in fact, done by architect Lovro Perković. Built in 1963, Marjan soon became the pearl of Split tourism and one of the city's symbols.

In 1979, before the Mediterranean Games in Dalmatia, it was extended, and 10 years later, in 1989, it had its last reconstruction. Soon after the start of the Homeland War, displaced persons and refugees moved in. From 1998 until the beginning of the new reconstruction, it operated with only 30 percent of its capacity.

In 2005, Kerum bought it in a tender for 170 million kuna, three times more than the requested 57 million kuna. A period of big plans and optimism followed when, after four years, a 20-year franchise agreement was signed with Hilton.

However, the owner of the facility was soon elected mayor, and the work of building and renovating the hotel was suspended so that in 2015 everything would end with the bankruptcy of the "Adriatic" company. The bankruptcy lasted for several years, and in November 2019, Marjan was sold to an Istrian company for 324 million kuna.

The Adris group refrained from commenting and replied:

"This is a significant project for Split, but also the further development of the tourist part of our company. Namely, this is a demanding project that will contribute to Split's further tourist affirmation and confirm "Adris" as the leading Croatian company in luxury tourism. Furthermore, as the public knows, and your paper has written about on several occasions, we want to thoroughly renovate the Marjan Hotel and join it to the group of luxury hotels ("Grand Park Hotel Rovinj," "Monte Mulini", "Lone", "Hilton Imperial" in Dubrovnik."

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Monday, 5 July 2021

800 Plant Species on Marjan in Split, Whole of Great Britain Only 1,500

July 5, 2021 - Did you know there are 800 plant species on Marjan in Split alone, while the whole of Great Britain only has 1,500?

To find treasure on Marjan, it is enough to walk carefully along its paths, glades, and hidden corners, absorbing the plant world whose diversity makes Split richer than imagined, reports Slobodna Dalmacija

Namely, the expedition of volunteer researchers led by Igor Belamarić, landscape architect of "Parks and Plantations," and Dalibor Vladović, curator of the Natural History Museum, found that the outskirts of the city reveal as many as 800 plant species. This is exactly twice as much as expected, Belamarić exclaimed. 

"We are making the first detailed vegetation map of Marjan. This research is preparation to see what we are dealing with. Yes, we can say - this is good, this is bad; a path should be made here, and a detour here; protect these plant species and remove these. We will see the differences between the north and south sides, loose and compacted soil, certain parts of the forest. What happens in the vegetation when there are fewer trees and, finally, what is the human impact," Belamarić added.

He points out that this is a project "VEUlonting for better learning," funded by the EU, through the program of the European Solidarity Force and the Agency for Mobility and EU programs, designed and applied by scouts volunteers of the Split Scout Association, uniting in their efforts with "Parks and Plantations" and the Natural History Museum, with the support of the Public Institution for Marjan Park-Forest Management, which will remain the database of collected data.

"We hope that it will provide them with an approach that is somewhat wider than forestry because Marjan is still a park-forest," adds Belamarić, emphasizing that the support of former mayor Andro Krstulović Opara and the Administrative Department for Communal Economy and Police was crucial.

So far, the peninsula map has been shown in one or at most three colors, which indicate the predominance of a particular species. However, new findings show that there is considerable diversification within it.

"It is already possible to find up to 40 plant species within 10 sqm. We analyze and compare different surfaces and determine the dominant species so that we can join each surface to the table," said Belamarić.

Since November last year, Spaniard Estela Rey Pico has been involved in this botanical story, and she has mastered the craft on projects dedicated to environmental protection.

"We explore and enjoy. We write tables, keep photo documentation and try to determine the percentage coverage for each plant we notice. Although it has become sweltering hot, this is still a dream job and an interesting and rewarding experience.

It was really unique to follow the forest from month to month, from week to week, to watch the plants sprout, grow and bloom," the volunteer said, adding that at first they didn't even know the names of the plants, so they devoted themselves to learning in the first months to start mapping with the arrival of spring.

She is pleased that they were joined by Marie Sole Vespasiano, a biologist from Naples, who ended up in Split thanks to her contribution to the research of antiaging molecules at MEDILS.

"I love Split, and I am happy that I can get involved in such activities," said Vespasiano. The remaining two volunteers have an enviable knowledge of the terrain.

"When I came, I knew nothing about plants, and now I got a chance to meet them and see them at all stages. Igor or Professor Dalibor are with us every time, so we can always contact them if we are unsure what a plant is called.

No matter how much we have learned, and now that we are working on a section where we find maybe 15 different species, we have to ask for the name of a few. Marjan really has so many types," said Pablo Garces Lazaro.

"Our initial intention was to work here with children through other projects with scouts, and we applied for that. But due to precautionary measures against the spread of the pandemic, we were offered this alternative, which we reluctantly accepted," said Miguel Iglesias.

"We counted 19 different species. This is slightly below average for particles like this. But here we also find these beautiful yellow flowers. Mexican prickly pear came here some 100, 200 years ago and created a problem for us because it is invasive and steals space from indigenous species. It has spread along the entire southern side, so it should be removed to protect our native species," he stated.

The map will, among other things, give an insight into the distribution of invasive species, which will then be proposed to the authorities for removal, and the scouts will offer them their organizational skills and volunteer contribution.

"This is called spatial rehabilitation, i.e., landscape care measures, which are an obligation following a decision of Parliament. One of the main things today is the extinction of plant species. Some announcements say we will lose an eighth of them by 2100.

We try to preserve them as long as possible so that we do not look for seeds later in the herbariums and pray to God that they are still alive to return a plant to nature.

In principle, people think that national parks should be protected, which is fine. But, still, I think that nature should be protected outside protected zones as well," Belamarić said and added that we are not recording any extinction of plant species on Marjan yet.

According to him, these 800 recorded speak in favor of enviable biodiversity, especially when you consider that Great Britain has 1,500 species. However, he says that there is still a lot of work ahead of them, and he hopes that in the next school year, some of the students from Split will join them, who were prevented from participating in the first phase of the project due to the pandemic.

Stay tuned as TCN intern Anastasia Stasyuk will give a first-hand account of mapping with the scouts on Marjan! 

For more news like this, follow our lifestyle section

Sunday, 10 January 2021

Renovation Begins of Traditional Stone Houses on Marjan Split

January 10, 2021 - The renovation of traditional stone houses on Marjan in Split has begun as part of the 'Marjan 2020' project. 

HRT reports that the works are part of a large project which should be completed by the end of the year and includes the reconstruction and revitalization of the Botanical Garden, a new observatory on the Saddle (Sedlo), new bike and hiking trails, trim trail renovation, and complete multimedia signage.

The concrete roof has been removed from the stone house, which was once built in the port of Lubin. Although they have not served their purpose for a long time, each house has a name: Saddle, Baba Marta's House, Pojevina, Firefighting road, Nursery, and Police (Sedlo, Kuća babe Marte, Pojevina, Protupožarni put, Rasadnik, Policijska.

"This part includes works exclusively in the area of Bene, while we will move to the area of the top of Marjan in the next period," said Ante Šustić, the manager of the reconstruction project.

By the end of October, all seven Marjan houses will look like they were built - and will be a real example of traditional folk construction, says HRT.

"The old plaster should be removed, some should be grouted, and it will mostly be a cover of old stone slabs. This will be done by masters who are a little older and who have already done it," said Zdravko Budimir, a representative of the contractor.

The cadastre from 1831 shows that there were vineyards, olive groves, orchards, and pastures on the peninsula's southern slopes and part of the northern ones. As everywhere in Dalmatia, chapels and shelters for people and cattle were built next to them. After the renovation, the houses will be used for the education and promotion of Marjan.

"This is a very extensive project, Marjan 2020 - the hill of the past, an oasis of the future, which provides for numerous activities, in fact, the restoration and addition of content within the Marjan Forest Park. We are renovating the training area, the children's city, new walking and cycling trails will be built, the trim trails will be renovated, so we will renew a lot of these facilities through the project," said Radojka Tomašević, head of the International and European Projects Service of the City of Split.

The project's total value is 26 million kuna and most of it is supported by non-refundable European funds.

You can see the video on HRT.

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Friday, 9 October 2020

New Marjan Zoo to Produce Cheese and Honey, Animal Petting Area for Children in Works

October 9, 2020 - The new Marjan Zoo will bring life to an area that has been neglected for years. A look at the plans for this once-famous Split attraction.  

Slobodna Dalmacija writes that if you climb to the Marjan Zoo, which, already dilapidated, attracts many visitors on sunny days, you are greeted by an unrecognizable illustration of what will one day be in this Split landmark. 

Surprised by the picturesque display of the potential hidden by this neglected location, Nediljko Zevrnja, the director of the Natural History Museum and the Zoo, is convinced that the best is yet to come.

"The presented conceptual design for the construction of the Zoo as an educational center with traditional native breeds was made at the beginning of the year based on the proposal of Mate Santic, Mirko Ruščić et al. Frane Strikić, who conceived this concept in 2014.

It was made by Katja Marasović, with the support of architect Rea Vidović. Unfortunately, we will not end the year with the preparation of project documentation because, like everyone else, we were hampered by the coronavirus, but we hope that this item will enter the budget for next year because we have the support of city authorities," says Ževrnja, emphasizing that the investment is more than one million kuna, without which the project cannot apply for tenders available through EU funds and provide funds for the planned works.

As Slobodna Dalmacija found out, this is a unique zoo template for Croatia, which at this stage nurtures the basic task of recognizing and preserving native breeds, such as bush cattle, donkeys, Croatian. white goats, Dalmatian pramenka sheep, and Dubrovnik ore sheep. There are also traditional breeds, such as the Dalmatian pony, Dalmatian turkeys, and Dalmatian hens, better known as pogrmuša.

The latter is the subject of special interest to Zevrnja, who, through cooperation with associations at the institutional level, advocates for the recognition of the origin of the breed, which, he says, would make it easier to protect it from extinction, which is another task of this institution.

"As this is a breed that is important for Dalmatia, we hope that the City and County will support us because recognizing the originality of this breed would be a big plus in terms of protecting the traditional and cultural values of this area. That hen was a treasure of the inhabitants of Dalmatia, and I believe that even today, we know how to recognize it as such," he adds.

The current animal fund, he says, is a kind of compromise between what they strive for and what they can support at the moment, especially considering the upcoming works, i.e., the possibilities of taking care of animals in the period of building new capacities. 

"In the center of the garden will be a small children's zoo, where children and adults will be able to make direct contact with animals, pet them, and feed them because we see that this is a favorite activity of our visitors," reveals Ževrnja, emphasizing that especially tourists delight in the possibility of interacting with animals they do not have the opportunity to meet elsewhere.

On the edge of the garden, on the north side, animal dwellings with green roofs will be built, along which a panoramic promenade will be stretched. Simultaneously, in the existing Art Nouveau facilities and the planned upgrade, several facilities will find their place, which will complete this zoo's offer.

"Such a space, if only intended for sightseeing, is neither sustainable nor purposeful. The usual contents, such as recreational and entertainment, must be expanded, and we will do it primarily through education, introducing laboratories and workshops, where children will be able to use microscopes, research, listen to lectures and the like," adds Ževrnja.

On the first floor of the main building, which is about to be extensively renovated, there will be a multimedia room for lectures, exhibitions, and more. On the ground floor, in addition to the children's section, there will be official laboratories, where materials will be prepared for the gene bank, which, with the support of the Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine from Zagreb, will preserve the genetic material of the original breeds.

Along with this house, according to the original design, the neighboring, also Art Nouveau building will be restored, which, he explains, was demolished just before it was declared a cultural property due to dilapidation and endangering animal safety. It will serve as an entrance to the park and souvenir shop.

Employees and the veterinary service will get new premises around the perimeter of the garden. In the building where the existing entrance is located, visitors will enjoy a catering facility.

"In the central part, two new spaces for education would be created, namely for honey extraction and cheese production, and one large incubator, as well as an entertainment space for children in the form of a theme park.

You know, our children, when you mention milk to them, they don't know where it comes from, or where the egg comes from, and where the chicken comes from. Life is like that, there are almost no animals in the countryside anymore, so the connection that connects man with animals has been lost," he adds, emphasizing that he hopes that this project will restore that connection.

The entire space will also be fully adapted for people with disabilities.

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Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Hill of Past, Oasis of Future: Traditional Stone Houses on Marjan to be Transformed for EU Project

August 4, 2020 - The City of Split has announced they will begin the renovation of seven traditional stone houses in the Marjan park-forest, which were used to store tools and shelter people and animals during storms.

Slobodna Dalmacija reports that the estimated value is HRK 700,000 without VAT, or HRK 875,000 with VAT included. This is a 50 percent increase in costs compared to the 2017 estimate of HRK 501,375, which was stated in the application documents for the EU project "Marjan 2020 - Hill of the Past, Oasis of the Future".

The application document (form B) for the Marjan 2020 project was signed on April 28, 2017, by Robert Koharevic, former director of the Public Institution for Marjan Park and Forest Management, and the city councilors from the opposition managed to get it after a lot of pressure on city structures. 

The document states that the houses will be of educational content and show visitors traditional folk architecture. But later, at the presentation of the project, it was noted that they would be used to sell souvenirs. The obvious location for this purpose is the Visitor Center, which has been adapted outside the park-forest, in the former substation under the Marjan rocks, near the former hotel "Ambasador".

However, in form B, it is stated that due to the revitalization of the botanical garden, the houses will be converted into souvenir shops. 

Namely, the project, according to which Marjan ceases to be a "hill of the past" and becomes an "oasis of the future", envisages that around 2.4 million kuna is earned annually from the sale of souvenirs. Thus, for the next 11 years, that is a total of about 26 million kuna in earnings, which is approximately the total budget of this project!

Interestingly, the earnings from souvenirs are considered more profitable than the annual earnings that would be realized from the transport of visitors by electric bus (452,000 kuna), transport by new boat that would bring tourists (875,000 kuna), tickets for the adrenaline park (565,000 kuna) and concessions for the paintball field (30,000 kuna).

The annual income from these services would be 1.9 million kuna, which is about 400 thousand less than what would allegedly be sold from souvenirs.

However, there are no Marjan souvenirs that would ensure the profitability of the project yet. Or at least we haven't seen them yet.

Namely, according to the EU program, the competition for souvenirs and their presentation was to be held by June 2019 for 80,000 kuna.

During this period, "designing 3 site-specific souvenirs" had to be done. It was also necessary to "make one special souvenir that will contain the text in Braille". In addition to the above, it is calculated that "T-shirts, USBs and the like as souvenirs and a reminder to visit the park-forest" will be sold at the Visitor Center on Trumbiceva obala, at the foot of the Marjan steps.

Recall that in 2019, a vessel for the transport of visitors had to be procured, the price of which, according to the documentation, is 3.75 million kuna for an electric or solar-powered vehicle , as well as an electric bus for a little over one million kuna.

The EU project Marjan 2020 will create more jobs in the park-forest. For this, it is necessary to hire seven people indefinitely - an electric bus driver, skipper and sailor who will operate the electric/solar boat, informants and sellers of various park-forest facilities, while over the summer, two more people are expected to help. The botanical garden would employ the head of the interpretation center and one gardener. HRK 1.26 million should be allocated annually for all employees, while the total annual project costs would amount to HRK 3.7 to 4.3 million.

In the best years, which is the first few years, the project would bring in 800,000 kuna per year, while after that, it would drop, and after seven years, it would drop to 400,000 per year. In the 11th year, it would amount to only 25 thousand! It is clear that such a calculation significantly depends on the sale of souvenirs. Namely, the profit that would be realized from their sale should amount to more than 50 percent of total revenues.

That is, souvenirs would have to bring in 2.4 million kuna every year so that the total annual income of the project would be around 4.3 million. However, the profit would be the highest at the beginning of the project.

The planned investments of the City, the Split Tourist Board and the Public Institution were around 6.6 million kuna, while the total return of money (cumulative) after ten years would amount to approximately 6.2 million.

It is interesting that in the same document, it was calculated that the City would be in a substantial deficit of 13 million kuna after 11 years, if it invested everything itself, or that it embarked on such a project without EU assistance.

But even with EU assistance, the project is walking a thin line in terms of sustainability as total souvenir earnings in 11 years (26 million) should be higher than 75 percent of grants received from the EU. Can souvenirs, which are yet to be made, save this project from losses?

Whether this Marjan project has the potential and magnetism to attract tourists remains to be seen.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Split Police Patrolling Riva and Beaches, Marjan Closed: "Only Go Out If You Must"

March 21, 2020 - Split police are busy patrolling the city's most frequented areas on Saturday and are pleading for citizens to stay home during the coronavirus crisis. 

Despite numerous recommendations from experts who have sent messages to stay home for days, many citizens have taken advantage of the crisis to enjoy the beautiful spring weather.

On Saturday, 168 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Croatia, and according to scientist Igor Rudan, the real number may be ten times higher, reports Dalmacija Danas.

As of Wednesday, only grocery stores, bakeries, pharmacies, and those deemed necessary are allowed to work, and all children's playgrounds are closed as of Saturday. Saturday morning, the Crisis Headquarters decided on a new regime for maritime transport, while bus transport between cities was suspended entirely.

Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said there was a “some kind of ban on movement in public areas". Citizens will not be physically removed, but police will warn and act in the event of disobedience. It is forbidden to move and hang out in groups in all public areas, and the police are strictly patrolling.

Marjan Forest Park was also closed and police visited Žnjan, Bačvice and the Riva and warned about the ban on movement in groups in public areas.

“Bene has been closed, and we have been instructed by the police to close Marjan as well, and to warn all passers-by that movement in this area is forbidden,” said the Marjan Primary School.

A spokeswoman for the Split police further explained the situation.

“We must all respect the decision of the National Headquarters who issued a recommendation not to hold public gatherings, including in public places. People should not gather in groups and police officers are patrolling and alerting citizens to return to their homes. We urge citizens to respect these decisions for your public health. Police will tour all frequently visited locations: Žnjan, Riva, Bačvice and other promenades. We appeal that only people who need it and who do the most urgent work go out in public. The police are doing this to protect all of us and public health. Let's stay home,” spokeswoman Antonela Lolic said.

Make sure to follow our dedicated section for rolling information in English about COVID-19 in Croatia.

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Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Marjan Forest in Split to be Restored with Native Species, Pine and Cypress

January 22, 2020 - For the first time, the Split City Councilors presented the Biological Restoration Study of Marjan Forest Park, which foresees the restoration of several areas that were destroyed during its rehabilitation from bark beetles.

Splitski Dnevnik reports that the Croatian Forestry Institute created the study. According to it, some parts of the forest will continue to be afforested with pine because it cannot be converted to more stable species. However, experts at the institute say that they ultimately want to see blackberry and black ash on Marjan, which is good for the long-term, and because the Aleppo pine is nearing its end.

The afforestation begins in the autumn of this year, said Martina Đodan, a research associate at the Croatian Forestry Institute, and the study will be supplemented with other Marjan sites after the two locations.

“The study is based on an agreement signed by the Croatian Forestry Institute with the City of Split on scientific research and professional cooperation, and it provides biological restoration guidelines for a part of the Marjan area and not for the entire area. The entire project was completed in December last year, using imagery of crewless aerial vehicles, which defined priority areas of about 15 hectares,” said Đodan, who added that the areas are primarily located in the north and that it was mainly to determine stable vegetation.

The selected areas that have been prioritized for restoration have been thoroughly crossed and found to be Mediterranean vegetation.

"It has been determined at these two locations that some parts are ready to plant progressive, native vegetation such as holm oak and its associated olive-like species. However, in some parts, we have rocky micro-locations where the existing vegetation will remain; in some parts, we will have to go again with the pioneer species of pine and cypress."

The amount of seedlings has been determined. One of the locations will mostly plant conifer oaks (about 40 percent), while in others, the pioneer pine species will be planted the most.

“On 95.5 percent of the Marjan area, vegetation conditions were satisfactory during the recording, which was in late August and early September, and there was a smaller percentage of trees that were infected. The biology of the bark attack itself is a speedy process and it is possible to detect successively new foci or a new state,” Đodan pointed out, adding that pheromone traps are still being set up and the monitoring is ongoing.

"However, we must also say that the culture of the pioneer species in Marjan has reached its physiological maturity and is in a state of dying away. Therefore, the Mediterranean crust is not the only threat to the forest, but it should be looked at as a gradual replacement with mixed younger stands.” 

Conditions in Marjan are difficult and increasingly challenging due to climate change, where the Mediterranean is the hardest hit. A smaller proportion of trees was also observed after remediation.

"We would recommend remodeling and cutting down trees in the first place, but preparatory work needs to be done. Due to preparatory actions, we recommend planting in autumn, when seedlings have the greatest survival rate, but it is necessary to provide quality forest material. It is important to nurture the seedlings after they are planted.”

The bark beetle has already hit Marjan and will be there again, and what is needed now is resiliant trees, experts warn. Threats are also linked to climate change and the introduction of invasive species as well as societal pressure on forests. In this regard, some other European countries are also working on adapting forests and forest cover by replacing species, which is the main activity of such a strategy.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Split 'Green Guerrilla' Planting Trees Illegally in Croatian Park Marjan

While most Split residents are asleep, members of the secret Split-based Green Guerilla direct action group covertly roam Marjan Forest Park with seedlings in hand, planting trees to help the city’s lungs breathe. They claim that everything they do is in collaboration with top forestry experts.

In addition to the Aleppo pine, they plant oak and cypress. However, they do not want to reveal how many trees they have planted so far and where, according to Ivana Perkovic/Dalmacija Danas on January 6, 2020.

The Split based group call themselves Green Guerrilla and their activities, although illegal, have met with widespread public approval. Nevertheless, some have wondered if these people might have better things they could be doing. Here's what they have to say:

To begin with: Split residents are interested in knowing; who are you and why did you organize?

We are a group of Marjan fans from Split who are tired of watching the destruction of life going on in the park. We have had enough of pillaging by the political elite, in which green spaces and trees in Marjan are being transformed into timber and are becoming prey to political calculation.

Some have wondered if you might have better things to do with your lives. Why did you begin planting right now?

For too long, those in charge have been saying that the afforestation process is set to begin. But they stand around with their hands in their pockets and prolong this process and pace it with campaigns for upcoming local elections. We’ve waited long enough, and it is a shame that the fate of Marjan is being decided by people who are calling the survival of vegetation into question. After a couple of years of delays, the forest has not been rehabilitated according to the agreed-upon method, and chopping down thousands of healthy trees cannot be called remediation. The real word that describes what has happened in Marjan is ‘criminal.’

Do you have experience in planting? What you say about statements by Damir Grubšić (JUPŠM/Public Institute for Marjan Forest Management) that you are doing more harm than good?

We are doing everything according to instructions from top forestry experts who wish to remain anonymous because they fear for their jobs. We would love to hear about what a shame it is to plant an oak, pine or cypress in the forest. If he is looking for pests in Marjan, he should first look at his current assistant and former director, Robert Koharević, and then at some other anomalies in the Public Institute. The real Marjan pests are those who illegally paved green areas and those who allowed them to are going unpunished while they remain in the city administration and Public Institute.

Are you afraid of being caught?

If one of us is caught, we will stand as one in solidarity and demand to be punished together. But we will also seek sanctions for those who have illegally harvested more than 20,000 Marjan trees, as determined by the State Forestry Inspectorate, and sanctions for those who have looked after Marjan in this manner.

split_green_guerrilla_trees_02.jpg

Green Guerrilla | Facebook

Are you planning to plant trees in large areas or just a symbolic number? How many trees have you planted so far?

That will remain our secret.

Will you respond to Mirko Rušić's invitation to plant trees when he officially begins the afforestation project?

We will not, because we do not want to work with a person who is unskilled, uneducated and unqualified to perform forestry work and, above all, a person who participated in the illegal felling of more than 20,000 Marjan trees.

We will only respond to an invitation to plant trees from an authorized forester. That person must stand up for afforestation, put his name behind it, and be responsible for all forestry efforts spanning the entire Marjan Forest Park protected area, which has already been slated for afforestation by the spatial plan and management program. Well, Marjan has been without a major forestry planning document for a year now. Should we be expecting an invite from someone who we can thank for putting Marjan in this situation?

You say that you are doing this "in defiance of those who would build and not plant on Marjan." Do you think that they are really trying to destroy the forest so that apartments and hotels will pop up on Marjan?

It’s not a matter of that we think. Parts of Marjan Forest Park have already been irreversibly destroyed by the unplanned and illegal construction of hotels and apartments, and now there are plans to build new cafes. Recent changes to spatial plans have been announced and who knows what else is happening in Kašuni, Kaštelet and Prva voda.

It has been officially confirmed that 75 buildings have been illegally built in this protected area, part of which is being used for apartments. There won’t be any peace while there are construction sites in the park forest, illegal construction continues, and the commercialization of Marjan is put ahead of its protection in the minds of those responsible.

How would you respond if someone started to harvest the trees you planted?

Trees cannot harm anyone, so destroying them would mean that they want war with well-meaning Split residents. If they want war with residents, they will have one, and a bigger tree will replace every tree that is removed. We will also make sure that the news of this behavior is spread beyond Croatia’s borders. This is at a critical time when the whole world is working on afforestation due to climate change, which has occurred due to the destruction of forests.

WHO IS PLANTING TWO TREES THIS EARLY

After the Aleppo pine, it was time to plant an indigenous oak and there was also a spot for a cypress. In view of yesterday's news story RTL Danas, we would like to address the statements of Mirko Rušić, President of the Marjan Commission, Deputy Coordinator of the Crisis Staff, and President of the Governing Board of JUPŠ Marjan:

Green Guerrilla documents several potential sites prior to planting, and then, in communication with forestry experts, selects planting sites for species proposed by the foresters themselves. Green Guerrilla, unlike the Marjan Commission and the Crisis Staff who have been left without professionals, has foresters who are happy to tell us what, where, how and when.

Increased patrols by the JUPŠ Marjan rangers are welcome. Perhaps they will now notice the illegal construction, pyromaniacs and other problems in Marjan, which have passed under their radar so far. The trees will continue to sprout either by our own hands or naturally, and no one can claim that any new tree is not part of a plan or program because we’ll remind them of the management program and afforestation plan.

It is a shameful for the team, held responsible by the State Forestry Inspectorate for devastating this forest, to deliberately delay the afforestation process as an election campaign nears. Greetings from the Green Guerrilla. While you p*** we will continue to plant. If you love Marjan get rid of the f****** construction sites in Marjan Forest Park rather than condemning and trying to find us.

Check out our Lifestyle page for more information on efforts (legal and illegal) to protect the environment in Croatia. Updates on Green Guerrilla's activites can be found here.

Monday, 19 August 2019

Famous Split Eyesore Hotel Marjan Sold to Adris Group for Over HRK 324 Million

August 19, 2019 - The sale of Hotel Marjan to the Adris Group means that this former tourist pearl and a current eyesore on the West Coast Riva in Split will shine once again. 

Frankly, there is no reason not to believe that in the years to come, after its reconstruction and renovation, 'Hotel Marjan' will become the pride of this Rovinj group, just like the Hilton Imperial Hotel in Dubrovnik and the Grand Park in Rovinj, which opened in April this year with a HRK 1.5 billion investment, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

Therefore, when the public electronic auction of Hotel Marjan ended with one Adris Group bid of 324,046,698 kuna, Split collectively let out a sigh of relief. Recall, we’ve waited for the sale for four years, which is how long the bankruptcy proceedings of "Adriatic d.d." took at the Split Commercial Court. You can read more about that here.

This Rovinj group has waited long enough to invest big money in Split, and we can only hope that the transaction will be completed as soon as possible. Though we know the sale process is far from complete. 

Ante Gabelica, bankruptcy manager of "Adriatic d.d.", said it will take months before the buyer receives the papers that will allow them to register as the new owner of the famous Split hotel.

The Adris Group didn’t want to get ahead of themselves, either. 

“Let's wait for the legal process to be completed, after which we will be able to talk about the details of the hotel renovation. So far, we can only tell you that we did not hide our ambitions. Adris is a serious investor. We are sure that Split will get the hotel that this beautiful Croatian city deserves,” said Predrag Grubić, director of corporate communications at Adris Group.

At the moment, we only know about their plans for Split, which were published on its website in June:

“By 2023, Adris will invest more than HRK 2 billion in tourism, keeping 95 percent of hotel capacity at the highest level of supply. In addition to investments in Rovinj, Vrsar, Zagreb, and Dubrovnik, there are plans to invest in Split, a growing and recognizable Croatian tourist destination.”

Former employees of the failed Adriatic company are pleased with the sale. Representative Ante Ledenko pointed out:

“We want the Adris Group as a quality investor to make a great hotel and to settle our claims of EUR 2 million, as promised in writing to each worker individually. We should be treated as partners, not as factors that hinder investment.”

The entry of the Adris Group also means that the staunch construction site of the hotel will no longer be the eyesore of Split. Back in 2012, the hotel was closed by a building inspection, as its owner, Željko Kerum, stepped down from the main project. Since then, this space has been without sufficient physical and technical care. Because of this, homeless people, foreigners, and other curious strangers have entered the construction site for years almost unobstructed, and are exposed to a decrepit structure and many broken windows. 

Written warnings from the police, as well as from the city's Department of Public Utilities, indicate that this is a major problem, pointing out that damaged panels on the front of the hotel endanger the safety of passers-by.

To read more about business in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Marjan Before and After: A Google Earth View of Split's Famous Hill Under Treatment

August 8, 2019 - Split's 'green lungs,' Marjan hill, has been under treatment since March. A look at the forest park before and after the rehabilitation to remove the bark beetle infestation. 

At the July session of the Split City Council, Mayor Andro Krstulović Opara, Nenad Ružić, Mate Omazić, and Dragan Brtan informed the councilors about the rehabilitation of the Marjan Park Forest since it has been under treatment for the infestation of the bark beetle. The president of the Marjan Task Force, Nenad Ružić, then revealed details of the first phase of rehabilitation, reports Dalmacija Danas.

“I can say that the works on Marjan are over. Everything was cut down that needed to be cut. Now we are waiting for the situation to be monitored and observed. The bark beetle in most of the landscape is in a drastic decline, though it is still in some areas.”

After the summer, when the bark beetle is calmed, we will see the real situation. Technically speaking, the Matima company has established 90 wire lines. That’s how many were needed to get to every tree. Exactly 12,790 cubic meters of wood, or 38,000 trees, were removed, both dry and infected. In addition to Matima, city services and companies were also involved,” said Nenad Ružić, among others.

Summer is slowly nearing its end, and in a few months, we will know if this significant intervention in the Marjan forest did indeed result in the eradication of the pest. However, in the meantime, we are left wiht the last aerial shots of Split thanks to Google Earth.

Zooming in on the Marjan Park Forest area, it's not hard to notice the impact the rehabilitation has had in the last few months, giving us a look into the reality of the figures spoken by Nenad Ružić.

Below, you can find a comparison of the forest before and after the first rehabilitation phase.

Before

marjan_google1.jpg

After

marjan_google2.jpg

Recall, before the rehabilitation, Marjan had more than 120,000 trees, 30 percent of which have been cut. Many people in Split believe that Marjan will never be the same again.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

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