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Slovenian lakescape

Harnessing tourism development for preservation of biodiversity

Harnessing tourism development for preservation of biodiversity

The BioDiTOUR cross-border project involves five partners from Slovenia and Austria

Finding harmony between preservation of biodiversity and development of the tourism potential of the cross-border Slovenian-Austrian area. This is what the recently unveiled BioDiTOUR project aims at, involving five partners from both countries in the effort.

Combating plant invaders

The project is financed with approximately EUR 600,000 under the European Regional Development Fund’s “Interreg Slovenia-Austria” programme, and is scheduled to last 24 months. Lead partner in the BioDiTOUR project is RIS Mansion Rakičan, a Slovenian research and educational centre devoted to improving the quality of life in rural areas. RIS is joined by the municipality of Kidričevo, the Energy Agency West Styria, the municipality of Deutschlandsberg, and the Association for the Development of Raba Nature Park.  

Robert Celec, director of RIS, emphasized during the online presentation of the project that one of the biggest threats to biodiversity at the pan-European level are the plant invaders - alien species that are making their way to endemic habitats and depleting biodiversity.

Therefore, the project focuses on curbing the environmental, economic and health damage caused by non-native species, outlining ways to control them and preserving habitats at the cross-border level. This should be achieved by designing cross-border products for active and educational tourism, and encouraging visitors to stray from the established routes and visit new green destinations on both sides of the border.

In harmony with local nature and people

"We started implementing sustainable tourism experiences based on biodiversity and active tourism in May last year that  are in line with our efforts to ensure that tourism development is in harmony with nature and the people who live in this area," said Celec, quoted by STA news agency.

The project will develop tourist products and establish a tourist information infrastructure at points that will steer the visitor to natural treasures and teach him about the dangers of invasive alien plants. Alien invasive species will be removed from Lake Soboča where a wooden platform with an observatory and appropriate information boards will be set up. An outdoor classroom built from the surrounding natural materials has already been arranged at Rakičan mansion which will be connected to the lake by walking and cycling paths.

The municipality of Kidričevo will arrange a wetland area next to the Strnišče gravel pit and a footbridge over the water surface, which will provide insight into the complexity of the aquatic habitat, highlighting the interdependence of the animal and plant system. The Austrian project partners plan similar activities, which will be carried out by the pond in the municipality of Deutschlandsberg and the nature park along the river Raba.

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