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European Natura 2000 Day, World Biodiversity Day And European Day Of Parks Are Coming Up Soon

Ljubljana, 18 May 2017 – In the coming days we will celebrate three important environmental days: European Natura 2000 Day (21 May), World Biodiversity Day (22 May, Sustainable Tourism), and the European Day of Parks (24 May, Changing Climate Changing Parks). The network of Natura 2000 already covers over a million sq. kilometres of EU territory, which makes it the largest network of protected natural areas in the world. Among EU member states Slovenia has the largest proportion of Natura 2000 areas (37% of the total area). Their purpose is to help preserve those species of plants and animals as well as habitat types that are in poor condition or are even endangered. The high level of nature protection in Europe is maintained thanks to the management of parks, which preserve natural resources that are genuine centres of biodiversity. In order to successfully protect valuable ecological assets, combat climate change and eliminate the environmental impacts of consuming resources, it will be necessary to fully implement commitments for the efficient use of resources and a green, competitive and low-carbon economy. Protected areas and the areas of Natura 2000 play an important role in the European economy through the implementation of ecosystem services, covering everything from the provision and management of the environment to cultural and support services. The community of protected areas, in partnership with related private companies, must therefore ensure that it contributes to achieving a competitive and efficient economy.

World Biodiversity Day devoted to sustainable tourism

In 1992 the Convention on Biological Diversity was adopted in Rio de Janeiro. The United Nations Environment Programme designated 22 May as the World Biodiversity Day to commemorate the entry into force of the Convention. In Slovenia, this day has been celebrated since 1996 when Slovenia became party to the Convention. This year, the United Nations dedicated it to biodiversity and sustainable tourism.
Slovenia is among the most biologically diverse countries in Europe. Within the territory of Slovenia there can be found approximately 24,000 different animal and plant species, while the numerical assessment of all potential types vary between 45,000 and 120,000 species. Furthermore, Slovenia has around 800 animal and 66 plant endemic species that can be found only there and nowhere else in the world. All these indicators rank us (in terms of biodiversity) among the richest areas of Europe. The great biodiversity of Slovenia is also reflected in the fact that our country has the largest proportion of protected Natura 2000 areas among all EU member states, covering as much as 37% of its total area. The ecosystem diversity of Slovenian territory is further evident from our protected areas, which comprise 13% of the country's area.
Lovers of nature as well as professional nature protectionists, tourists and tourism workers are aware that there is exceptional natural wealth in Slovenia. Surveys show that over half of foreign tourists give the best marks to the very quality of the environment in Slovenia, and one of the main reasons for visiting Slovenia is its natural attractions. We still have relatively well preserved biodiversity, varied and picturesque landscape and idyllic forested terrain, which all contributes to the unique image of Slovenia. This is further supported by a few random facts and circumstances, such as our geography, geology, climate, history, economy and social tradition, as well as by the conscious, goal-oriented policy of the state and local communities.

Ever larger numbers of people are travelling to the countryside to discover the remaining or restored natural areas of our continent. Sustainable tourism is changing relations within the tourism sector and already represents a relevant source of additional income for certain local communities. However, tourism may exert both a positive as well as negative impact on biodiversity. Positive impacts include inter alia promoting the outstanding importance of rich biodiversity. This contributes to the increased value of a particular tourist destination and at the same time raises the awareness of tourists and the local community about the importance of protecting biodiversity and spending leisure time outdoors. Positive impacts of tourism on biodiversity may also include the monitoring and management of animal populations, greater public awareness and the promotion of political activity for the benefit of biodiversity. On the other hand, the impact of tourism on biodiversity may also be negative as it may entail the excessive exploitation of natural resources by increasing the pressure placed on certain species and their habitats. Because of the many effects of tourism on biodiversity, it is important that tourism activities are supervised and developed within the operational framework, which aims to reduce the negative and increase the positive effects on biodiversity. Therefore, it is important that tourism in nature is planned comprehensibly and thoughtfully, taking into account the so-called ecosystem approach to ensure human survival while protecting ecosystems. This includes efforts to protect natural resources (e.g. management of land, water and living resources) and the ecosystem services that social welfare depends on. Thus, sustainable tourism promotes the preservation of healthy ecosystems and their just and sustainable use, considering that it is itself dependent on them.

The Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning (MOP) is aware that our extraordinary biodiversity will be preserved if we manage to increase the awareness of its users and improve intersectoral cooperation. MOP is committed to integrating sustainable development objectives and global targets for biodiversity, including commitments for sustainable tourism development, into the key development and strategic documents of the state.


Natura 2000 Day and the European Day of Parks

On 21 May the EU celebrates the European Natura 2000 Day and on 24 May the European Day of Parks – Changing Climate Changing Parks.  Slovenia has the greatest proportion of its territory within the Natura 2000 network of any EU country, which reflects the country's outstanding biodiversity. There are 355 of these areas, comprising 37% of Slovenia's land surface. Most of these areas are forested (71%), while only 2% are built-up areas. The Natura 2000 network is spread throughout Slovenia – any point in Slovenia is within 10 kilometres of the nearest Natura 2000 site. Thus, in Slovenia we live with Natura 2000 practically at our doorstep. The population living within these areas does not exceed 130,000 inhabitants. At the EU level more than two thirds of the population (65%) live within an hour's walking distance (5 km) from the first area. This offers us the opportunity to learn about nature firsthand, as well as to also contribute to its conservation.

The air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we produce all depend on the quality of our ecosystems. From mountain peaks to sea depths there are many different habitats that countries protect in the form of national, regional, marine or suburban parks, as well as within the framework of Natura 2000 nature conservation areas. The high level of protection in Europe is maintained thanks to the management of parks, which preserve natural resources that are genuine centres of biodiversity.


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Recommendations for a responsible traveller

Natural parks of Slovenia

Website of CBD Secretariat dedicated to the World Biodiversity Day

International year of sustainable tourism for development

World Tourism Organisation

Biodiversity and tourism

European day of parks (EUROPARC)