Slovenian Cases

Revitalization of the Karst Edge

an example of preservation environmentally most important parts of the area with stewardship agreements with the owners, and with creation of the network of micro-reserves in order to protect endangered species and habitats

Keywords:
biodiversity
land-use planning
preservation of traditional agricultural practices
public participation
public-private partnership
naturalistic tourism

Location
The Karst Edge extends within 20 kilometres long and 2,5 kilometres wide zone from Socerb at Slovenian-Italian border to Mlini at Slovenian-Croatian border. It covers the area of approximately 7000 hectares. The area represents the boundary between the flysch area of Slovenian coast with typical Mediterranean climate and the higher karstic area where continental influence from the central Slovenia is already present.

 

 

Importance
The Karst Edge area - the limestone border between continental and coastal part of Slovenia - offers one of the most impressive views of the Slovenian landscape. The area is also marked by extreme variety of plant and animal species, and their habitats. In this landscape the semi natural dry grasslands interlace with the rocky limestone slopes, screes and karst ponds, the peculiarity of karstic cultural and natural heritage. Many rare and endangered species could be found, among them are also Moehringia tommasiniana, amphibians in the ponds, and some endangered butterfly and bird species.


Photo: Arhiv Znanstveno
raziskovalnega središca Koper

Problem
One of the main problems of the degradation of Karst edge’s habitats lies in the depopulation of the area and abandonment of traditional land use - pasturing and mowing. The consequences are overgrowing of dry meadows with the forest and disappearing of the ponds. Another problem is low awareness of local people and public in general regarding exceptional importance of the nature and landscape of the Karst Edge. These altogether blurs exceptional potentials of the area for development alternative forms of tourism (excursions, hiking, riding, tourist farm-houses, lodging-houses, educational tourism, etc.) and sustainable agriculture.

 
Project
Within the program Life - Natura 2000 the project “Conservation of endangered habitats and species in the area of the Karst Edge” was carried out by the University of Primorska, Science and Research Centre of Koper between the 2002 and 2005. The project’s goal is preservation of nature resources and cultural landscape, as well as improvement of living conditions for local population. Both goals are to be realised with preservation of endangered habitats and species and with appropriate assistance for economic development of the Karst Edge as an area foreseen for naturalistic tourism.

The project represents a model of establishing a new type of conservation of the most important parts of nature with the stewardship agreements and with the creation of the network of micro-reserves. It is expected that 300 ha of the most valuable habitats will be renovated and protected. The protection proposal for at least one third of the most valuable area with endangered habitats is prepared. Raising awareness about environmental importance and local support for successful protection of habitats and species is another important element of the project.

Photo: Andrej Gogala
Results
Within the project the inventory of species and their habitats was prepared. Specially important areas for the existence of species and habitats were defined, and agreements with the land owners about maintenance of the area under protection were signed (stimulations for regular mowing and restoration of already overgrown areas, and ecological restoration of karstic ponds). Various promotion campaign to raise awareness and to promote the meaning and importance of the Karst Edge area, along with the promotion of sustainable land-use and economical development of the area, were taken. Local newspaper “Kraski rob” is published, web site about Karst Edge is online, various workshops were organised, collaboration with the Agricultural chamber is arranged, and pamphlets and other promotional material were prepared. The project gave basic infrastructure for support and implementation of sustainable tourism and recreation. This includes restoration of an old school in Rakitovec into an information centre for visitors and tourists, as well as installation of permanent exhibition about karstic ponds.
 
Further information
www.zrs-kp.si/projekti/life/
www.gov.si/mop/

COMMENTS AND THEORY
A good and efficient way of preserving environmentally the most important parts of a protected area is protection based on stewardship agreements with landowners together with creation of the network of micro-reserves. Another important element is also understanding of environmental importance of the area by local community and consequently appropriate local support for successful protection of habitats and species.

QUESTION

How to ensure development of an area that confronts abandoning of traditional land-use and depopulation, and at the same time, to ensure protection of habitats, rich on plant and animal life, that crucially depend on traditional land-use practices?

 

Prepared by:
IIDE – Institute for Integral Development and Environment (Marta Vahtar, Maja Zdesar and Miran Rusjan)

 


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