Saturday, 25 September 2021

Lošinj Hosting First International Testing of Eco-Tourism Product Footprint

ZAGREB, 25 Sept, 2021 - Select foreign experts, gathered around the international project InterregDestiMed Plus, are evaluating a new eco-tourism package tour and testing its sustainability on the northern Adriatic island of Lošinj, which is the first such international test in Croatia.

The Zagreb-based Tourism Institute, which is taking part in the project, said that the project was about the professional testing of the footprint of the eco-tourism package tour in the Cres-Lošinj protected area (Natura 2000), designed in cooperation between local, regional and national partners.

The Tourism Institute in 2019 joined the Interreg DestiMed Plus project "Ecotourism in Mediterranean Destinations: From Monitoring and Planning to Promotion and Policy Support", which has been implemented simultaneously in Mediterranean protected areas and involves 12 project partners from Italy, Greece, Spain, France, Albania and Croatia.

The island of Lošinj was chosen as the pilot destination in Croatia, being an integral part of the Cres-Lošinj maritime area protected under the Natura 2000 network and a leader in sustainable tourism in Croatia, the Institute said.

The package tours for each of the selected protected areas are tested, improved and adapted to market needs with the help of the ecological footprint indicator and other sustainability indicators.

"By carrying out practical measurement instead of only giving expected recommendations, an attempt is being made to reduce the negative impact of tourism on the environment, economy and local community," the Institute said, noting that this week Lošinj would host a modern travel simulation whose eco standard will be measured by independent travellers.

Travellers from different walks of life from several Mediterranean countries will test a carefully designed all-inclusive eco package in the Cres-Lošinj protected area, created for the market of experienced, solvent, ecologically responsible and adventure-seeking middle-aged travellers from English and German-speaking areas who enjoy a combination of outdoor activities and psychophysical rest, local gastronomy, culture, nature and tradition as well as interaction with the local population through various events.

Taking place outside the peak season, the project is also important for extending the tourism season, while income stays in the local community, with the involvement of an increasing number of local service providers, who have recognised the quality and long-term value of this tourism product, to be available on the tourism market in the future.

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Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Two Croatian Projects Among Finalists for European Natura 2000 Award

September 8, 2020 - The European Commission has announced the finalists of the European Natura 2000 Award for 2020.

The Natura 2000 network is formed of 27,800 sites and ensures the survival of Europe's invaluable and threatened species and habitats. The Natura 2000 Award thus rewards excellence in the management of these sites and highlights the value of the network for local economies. 

Among the 27 finalists this year are two projects with Croatian partners, which will compete in five categories.

Namely, LENA - Local Economy and Nature Conservation in the Danube region, received 295 votes to become a finalist. 

"WWF Bulgaria, in partnership with 12 other organisations, led this initiative aimed at addressing the economic difficulties and depopulation linked to unemployment in the lower reaches of the Danube region as part of the Interreg project LENA.

The overall objective was to find ways of creating new nature-based business initiatives and to share know-how and experience on sustainable economic development in 15 Natura 2000 sites in six EU countries and one neighbouring country: Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia and Serbia. Over 1 100 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) were involved in the initiative. Wild plant collectors, fishermen and farmers were trained and given assistance in adding value to their businesses.

A refrigeration showcase was purchased to support the local trade in fresh products in Bulgaria. 169 participants engaged in capacity-building workshops on sustainable wild plant collection in four countries according to the FairWild certification. Links between harvesters, traders and processors were established and a business plan for a wild plant purchasing point was made in Ivanovo, Bulgaria.

Certificates for products from three protected areas were introduced (for Slavonian pigs in the Dunav-Vukovar Natura 2000 Site in Croatia, non-GMO products in future Natura 2000 sites in Serbia, and local agricultural products in the Comana Natura 2000 site, Romania). 225 local and national authorities were involved in policy workshops, and four guidance documents and recommendations for better policy support of green jobs were distributed to stakeholders. Around 280 000 tourists and locals from Natura 2000 sites were made aware of the importance of the sites and nature-based jobs.

Sustainable forms of tourism, such as rural, cultural and culinary tourism, were supported through the establishment of a network of Danube guides represented by each country (Germany, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria). Currently, the network has 100 trained guides in six countries, a protected logo and a website (https://danube-guides.net/). Building on the success of the project, an additional network has been launched on E-mobility– with E-stations, E-bikes and E-managers. A policy framework for green jobs was also supported," reads the description on the EU Natura 2000 website.

ECO KARST - For Nature and For People, received 566 votes.

"Led by the Slovenia Forest Service in partnership with 11 organisations from nine countries (Slovenia, Croatia, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina), the Interreg-funded ECO KARST project aimed to address one of the main challenges in nature conservation, namely bridging the gap between the needs of biodiversity preservation and the improvement of the livelihoods of local populations.

To do this, the project brought together seven protected areas – so-called karst bio-regions - from across the Danube Region to find ways of generating and supporting new socio-economic opportunities that are in keeping with the extremely fragile karstic Natura 2000 habitats (e.g., intermittent lakes, beech forests, wet and dry meadows) and that are based on their valued ecosystem services.

The first step was to map all the ecosystem services generated by the karst habitats in these seven Natura 2000 sites. 57 maps (eight per pilot area) were produced in total and then analysed, in close collaboration with local stakeholders, to identify areas that could become Biodiversity Investment Opportunities (BIO). The 23 BIO maps were used in turn to prepare Local Action Plans, in which each protected area aimed to combine the necessary conservation guidelines with the potential for local, sustainable, and nature-friendly economic development.

These Action Plans have since been integrated into official park management plans and other relevant documents in each of the parks, to ensure that locals and nature are brought closer together and where possible are mutually supportive. The Action Plans include some 146 new measures (21 per protected area) that are of common interest to both park authorities and local stakeholders, with shared responsibilities.

The project also sought to actively encourage new socio-economic activities in the sites and therefore launched a call for Pro-Biodiversity Businesses (PBBs). In total, 70 entrepreneurs responded to the PBB award calls, and 23 were awarded support. These are businesses that create profits, without harming nature or even by actively conserving it. PBBs represent a concrete and viable option for achieving sustainable development within European protected areas and the entire Natura 2000 network.

Together, the Action Plans and PBBs have been a vital step in bridging the gap between the needs of biodiversity preservation and the improvement of the livelihoods of local populations," says EU Natura 2000 on its website.

You can read more about the Natura 2000 finalists HERE.

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Thursday, 14 September 2017

Agreement Signed to Improve Management of NATURA 2000 Areas in Croatia

Eleven of Croatia's nature parks and eight of Croatia's national parks take a step in the right direction to manage their protected areas. 

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