Julian Alps Transboundary Ecoregion
The green heart of Europe without borders
Cooperation between Prealpi Giulie Nature Park (IT) and Triglav National Park (SI) dates back to 1996, when the Italian park was established. Partnership between the two protected areas was reinforced by EU projects, which supported relationships between cross-border partners. Their already close cooperation expanded and in 2007 the idea of a transboundary park was born. Only two years later the transboundary Julian Alps Ecoregion, which also includes Slovenia’s Julian Alps MAB UNESCO Area, was officially awarded the EUROPARC Transboundary Certificate.
The primary aim of this cooperation is the protection of nature. In addition to this, the objectives include conservation of nature together with local culture. Therefore the two parks commit themselves to protect and to conserve biodiversity, landscape and cultural heritage.
Monitoring of flora and fauna is very important. Both parks have an extremely rich biodiversity, which reflects in pure waters, deep-cut gorges, remains of virgin forests, richness of mountain flowers and typical park animals. The cultural and historical heritage also plays a key role. For example, Prealpi Giulie Nature Park boasts more than 1,200 plant species and subspecies, wildlife includes a wide range from small insects up to the large carnivores, e.g. brown bear and lynx, crossing regularly the border. The special feature of Triglav National Park is a bustling nature, a wide variety of plant species and numerous protected animals.
Cross-border experiences for youth and adults
Another aim of the cooperation is to strengthen environmental education, because it is a means to convince people to take responsibility for nature. Consequently it is essential to provide people with information about protected area characteristics. The two parks work together to improve this aspect.
In the field of environmental education, an impressive collaboration is in place amongst the Junior Rangers. Both parks run a Junior Ranger program and young participants have the possibility to share their experiences. Last year Triglav and Prealpi Giulie cooperated successfully to organise and carry out EUROPARC’s 11th International Junior Ranger Camp in Kranjska Gora (SLO).
Another important topic is the promotion of typical products, which becomes a characteristic feature and an added value to the area in terms of tourism. The latter is important both for the knowledge of this area and for the economy.
Projects for sustainable development
Sustainable development involves the two parks in EU projects, e.g. EcoRegioAlpeAdria (ERA) project, which includes also the Nockberge Biosphere Reserve in Austria. This project aims to promote sustainable development in regions that share the same problems related to the marginality of the territory and to the difficulties caused by the mountains. The goal is to encourage diffusion of good practices and to strengthen transboundary cooperation to reach greater visibility not only in the local area.
Working together and sharing experiences is a way to approach and manage common threats like biodiversity loss and climate change, and to promote both nature conservation and sustainable development. In this context special attention was recently paid to climate changes through an Interreg project named “Climaparks”. Together with other seven partners, initiatives concerning monitoring of plant and animal species and concrete actions to reduce the pressure of human activities on environment have been launched.
Next step of the cooperation will be a common application for the European Charter of Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas. Both protected areas see it as an extraordinary opportunity to develop the entire area.
Text by Stefano Santi and Mojca Smolej