As part of its regular activities, the Northern Velebit National Park Public Institution works together with scientific institutions, organizations, individuals and sponsors in implementing various projects. The aim of such scientific and expert projects is to widen the knowledge about the natural values of the Park, which is the foundation for good management. Education and promotion projects are intended for Park visitors and the general public and their goal is education about the Northern Velebit National Park and increasing the awareness of the multiple values of this area.
Karst Ecosystem Conservation (KEC)
The Karst Ecosystem Conservation project (KEC) was implemented in Croatia in the period from 2003 to 2007 as a national level project. Participating in the project were five parks in the karst region – apart from the Northern Velebit National Park, other participants were the Plitvice Lakes National Park, the Paklenica National Park, the Risnjak National Park and the Velebit Nature Park. The project was executed by the Croatian Ministry of Culture in collaboration with the World Bank and was funded from the Global Environment Fund. It included numerous activities, some of the most important being the development of a management plan, cataloguing and mapping biological diversity, setting up a Geographical Information System (GIS) and a database on the biodiversity and other natural resources of the Park. The project also provided for construction/reconstruction of some of the Park’s infrastructure (Park’s administrative building, reconstruction of the Park access road) and the purchase of computer and presentation equipment. As part of the project a number of workshops were organized for the local inhabitants, stakeholders, tourism organizations etc. as well as training courses for the Park’s staff, e.g. training in interpretation techniques, learning how to use GIS tools etc.
Renovation of the Velebit Botanical Garden
The project for the renovation of the Velebit Botanical Garden is being carried out since 2002 in collaboration with the Botanical Gardens of the University of Zagreb Botanical Institute. The project includes cataloguing existing and bringing new plants to the garden, gardening, tagging plants, infrastructure maintenance and promotional activities. The 40th anniversary of the Botanical Garden was marked by installing educational panels in the Garden.
Volunteering in the Park
Since 2009 the Park is working on developing volunteering programmes, in collaboration with Zagreb Volunteering Centre. Volunteering lets those involved experience the Park “from within”, and gather new experiences, meet people and make a positive contribution to the world around them, making a gift of their work and time. At the time we offer volunteers the option of volunteering on the jobs of gardening assistant in the Botanical garden, and we are preparing corporate volunteering projects.
Visitor Centre Krasno
With this project the Northern Velebit National Parks aims to open a modern visitor centre at the Park’s headquarters in the village of Krasno in order to present the natural and cultural resources of the Park and its surroundings to the ever growing number of visitors, to expand the tourist offer of Krasno and Senj, and to attract even more tourists to this area, especially in winter when the Park is not open to visitors. The Park area has predominantly karstic terrain with deep pits as its most valuable feature that has made Northern Velebit one of the most important speleology localities in the world. Deep pits will therefore be one of the main topics of the future Visitor Centre that will provide information on the formation, peculiarities, research and geology of the pits. The Centre will also interpret topics dealing with other values of the Park (with emphasis on the fact that the entire area is part of an ecological network) such as different ecosystems (forests, grasslands...), climate, meteorology and cultural heritage of the Park and will present the human influence on the formation of landscape and biological diversity. The topics will be interpreted using a modern approach that encourages interaction and research from visitors and applies multimedia effects (images, sounds, scents...). The Visitor Centre will include an info centre and a gift shop as well as a small presentation room and a creative workshop space primarily intended for education of school children through practical work, which will come to its full potential once the planned “classes in nature” program kicks-off in Krasno. These facilities will also be available for use by local elementary schools which will be able to use our premises for natural science classes. In developing the Visitor Centre special care will be taken to accommodate the needs of persons with special needs in order to allow them to experience specific phenomena and features they will not able to experience live, since many parts of the Park have highly inaccessible terrain.
Procurement of Civil Works for Reconstruction of Shepherd’s Huts in National Park Northern Velebit (as part of the EU Natura 2000 integration project (NIP))
This projects provides for construction/reconstruction of a number of facilities at two locations at the top-most parts of the Park in order to improve the management mechanisms and to facilitate easier supervision of this region. Through the project, a number of shepherd’s huts will be reconstructed at Veliki Lubenovac and Alan to provide accommodation to the Park’s staff and associates during the visiting season. Some of the huts will be used for education purposes and will be reconstructed in the original form of shepherd’s dwellings from the past (dry-stone structures, hearth, wood shingle…) to demonstrate the spirit and the way of life of the past inhabitants of this region.
Little Green Workshop
The “Little Green Workshop” project is intended to provide educational activities for various visitor groups. In addition to field worksheets on the natural and cultural resources of the Park, the Velebit Botanical Garden and the Zavižan weather station, a small space at the Parks headquarters will continue to be equipped with new didactic materials for children.
Rewilding Europe – Conserving European wilderness
The term wilderness is increasingly used in recent nature conservation. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has defined wilderness in 1992 as a category of protected areas, placed above a national park in the protected areas hierarchy. You can read IUCN’s definition of wilderness here. In order to promote and develop the concept of wilderness in nature conservation, IUCN has set up a Wilderness Task Force in 2003. This Task force in cooperation with the WILD Foundation also organizes the World wilderness congress.
In 1990 six countries had legal acts concerning wilderness, while in 2009 there were nine countries with such acts, and at least nine others had politics or zonations that included wilderness, while two others were preparing wilderness acts. European Union got actively involved in developing wilderness as an approach to nature conservation in 2009, when the European parliament passed a Resolution on wilderness in Europe. The same year the European Commission representatives held a conference on wilderness in Prague, where the Wild Europe initiative , was accepted, a joint project of numerous nature conservation organisations. The outcome of the conference was the "Message from Prague", an agenda to raise the significance of wilderness in Europe, as well as a number of other wilderness related documents. The term wilderness was included in the new European biodiversity strategy, and in 2011 the process of making a European wilderness began.
Aside from conserving the existing wilderness areas, increasing in importance are restoration projects, bringing nature back to a state of wilderness – rewilding. In this direction was launched the project Rewilding Europe in 2010, with the goal of rewilding 1.000.000 ha throughout Europe. The first five pilot areas were selected, and one of them is Velebit, including the Northern Velebit National Park. The Northern Velebit National Park’s vision, as defined during the process of making the Park’s Management plan, includes wilderness as the fundamental identity of the Park.
In 2011 the project activities were defined in detail, and in 2012 the implementation in the field began. You can follow the news on the development of the project on our website.
Learn more about the entire Rewilding Europe project.
European destination of excellence (EDEN)
EDEN is an acronym for European Destinations of ExcelleNce – a project promoting models of sustainable tourism development in the European Union. The project is based on national competitions for touristic destinations of excellence in each participating country, emphasizing the values and diversity as well as the common characteristics of European destinations and encouraging networking of award-winning destinations. The project goal is to develop and promote destinations with less developed tourism.
Each year the European Commission chooses a theme, and as Croatia has been a part of the project from the start, it has five destinations of excellence with five different themes:
Learn about other European destinations of excellence as well.
How did it all begin?
The competition for European destinations of excellence started in 2005 as a pilot project in the country members of the European Union. Croatia was offered a chance to participate, but without the rights to financial support (2006/2007) when Sveti Martin na Muri was awarded a touristic destination of excellence in the rural area. In Croatia the EDEN project is implemented by the Croatian National Tourist Board together with its system of County Tourist Boards based on an action plan approved by the European Commission.
Northern Velebit National Park is the winner of the third Croatian competition for a European destination of excellence (EDEN) with the theme of Tourism and protected areas. County Touristic Boards nominated a total of 19 destinations to the Main office of the Croatian Tourist Board, and the committee of the ministry of tourism and the Main office of the Croatian Tourist Board made a selection of 10 protected area destinations from which five candidates entered the final selection. Along with Northern Velebit three nature parks – Učka, Papuk and Lastovo islands as well as the Park Forest Trakošćan entered the final selection. The criteria graded by the committee were rather demanding, and a number of categories were observed:
Each category and subcategory was given a grade 1-5 and the Northern Velebit National Park won 185 points out of possible 190.
EDEN 2009 – what next?
The awarding and annual network meeting of EDEN destinations is organised as a part of celebrating the European Tourism Day and the European Tourism Forum in Bruxelles.
As a national winner we got the opportunity to present Northern Velebit National Park, the town of Senj as well as Croatia on a two day fair of EDEN destinations held also as a part of celebrating these two significant dates of European tourism.
The representatives of Croatian Tourist Board, County Tourist Board of the town of Senj and Northern Velebit National Park also took part in workshops aimed to help us brand and promote the EDEN destinations, as well as develop indicators to help management of the destination to follow the sustainability of tourism development.
Northern Velebit National Park also signed the Bruxelles “Declaration on a European Network of Destinations of Excellence for Sustainable Tourism” committing to exchange information and experiences on the web portal created by the European Commission, participate in annual workshops and implement the actions and conclusions of the network, constantly exchange information and knowledge regarding tourism development programmes based on sustainable development.
In order to promote the European destinations of excellence and EDEN destinations, the European Commission has also presented its projects – a web portal, a special 30-page insert in the publication The Parliament Magazine, a DVD film named „Discover European hidden treasures“, EDEN brochure and posters promoting the destinations.
At the initiative of the EU every country has its EDEN ambassador and an EDEN journalist. In Croatia the EDEN ambassador is Mrs. Lidija Komes chosen for her extensive work in nature conservation and education of the youngest generations, and the EDEN journalist is Mrs. Željka Sruk whose mission it is to follow events in the EDEN destinations.
After the entrance to the EDEN destinations network Park representatives attended the regular annual workshops (Finland and Malta) whose objectives were to strengthen the connection between the existing destinations, exchange “good practice” examples and define further steps in developing sustainable tourism in every single area.
Project under the guidance of the European Commission has ended in 2011, meaning there will be no new destination competitions. But, that doesn’t mean that the project doesn’t “live on”. On the contrary, in February 2012 a formal Organisation of EDEN destinations was founded, with its office in Bruxelles, joined by 69 out of the 98 European destinations of excellence.
It is necessary to stress that this project is aimed at promoting European tourism as well as individual country and region tourism and awarded destinations, and in this way stimulating other destinations to accept models of sustainable tourism development.
Northern Velebit National Park Public Institution also has in its Management plan defined as one of its goals: to develop well organized, sustainable, uninvasive educative and cultural tourism, based on the natural values of the area that coincides completely with the aim of this project and will strive to utilise the advantage of tourism and visiting system development, while reducing the deficiencies to the minimum level possible.