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Frontpage News 2015 First car-free nature park in Slovenia

Sečovlje Nature Park. Photo: SOLINE Salt Production Ltd.
Sečovlje Nature Park. Photo credit: SOLINE Salt Production Ltd.

First car-free nature park in Slovenia

Inspired by Jotunheimen Nature Park in Norway - which has a very restrictive policy on the use of motorised vehicles - Sečovlje Nature Park will become the first Slovenian nature park where cars are banned.

Both Norway and Slovenia have vast mountainous regions, and both face a challenge to find how best to develop tourism in way that is sustainable for the environment, local people and visitors themselves. While the motorised traffic in Jotunheimen in Norway is limited to roads used exclusively for commercial purposes, motorised vehicles cause extensive environmental problems for protected areas in Slovenia.

Cars out!

Aiming to conserve nature through offering sightseeing in a more environmentally friendly manner in Slovenia, Sečovlje Nature Park is purchasing environmentally friendly vehicles and constructing new footpaths that will allow all visits to the nature park to take place exclusively on foot or by bicycle. The objective is to limit environmental damage caused by motorised vehicles, and develop alternative and environmentally-friendly ways to visit the park.

Jotunheimen National Park is participating in the project funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Grants. Every year, Jotunheimen National Park is visited by hikers, climbers, cyclists and skiers from all over Europe, and the Norwegian partner therefore has rich experience in managing visits and traffic in protected areas in Norway.

“Our most important tool is to raise awareness about the necessity of taking care of nature. We will have to sacrifice some commodities in order to do so. Together with our project partners we draft common strategies on facilitating the use of non-motorised vehicles, and discuss necessary measures that aim to construct an environmentally friendly visitor infrastructure more welcoming for hikers and cyclists,” says Andrej Sovinc from project promoter SOLINE Salt Production Ltd.

Exchange of best practices from Norway

 “We share experience and best practice about how to best manage tourist visitor numbers to popular protected areas in Norway, and engage in valuable and educational discussions with everyone involved in the project,” says Magnus Snøtun from Jotunheimen National Park.

Snøtun highlights the necessity of the project, and the positive experiences gathered from it.

“Slovenia is well on the way to establishing a more adequate infrastructure and better management of visits to protected areas. Their work is of high quality, and our partnership is characterised by trust and transparency,” Snøtun elaborates.

Common goal, different requisites

A dedicated website with best practices and experiences from Norway is already up and running. In June 2015, a visit to Jotunheimen was organised for the Slovenian project promoters. The visit generated great interest in Norwegian practices, and provided new insights for all involved partners. In September this year, the Norwegian partners visited Sečovlje Nature Park in Slovenia.

“Our goal is the same: to restrict motor traffic in protected areas, though we have different requisites for achieving this goal. We encountered several issues within our own system, and the partnership has therefore given us important input to work with,” says Kari Sveen, also from Jotunheimen National Park.

By the end of 2016, Sečovlje Nature Park will become the first car-free nature park in Slovenia. The initiative ‘Promotion of environmentally friendly visitation of protected areas’ is run by project promoter SOLINE Salt Production, with the participation of Landscape Park Strunjan and Jotunheimen National Park as project partners. Through the EEA Grants, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have contributed around €800 000 to make natural heritage more accessible to the public.

More

Read more about the ‘Promotion of environmentally friendly visitation of protected areas’ project

Read more about the ‘Conservation and revitalisation of cultural and natural heritage’ programme

Read more about the EEA and Norway Grants to Slovenia