Julian Alps to become cross-border biosphere area

Bled, 8 August - Slovenia's Triglav National Park and Italy's Prealpi Giulie Nature Park have launched a bid to have the Julian Alps declared as a single trans-boundary UNESCO MAB Biosphere Reserve to manage it together.

Julian Alps
Mt Triglav, Slovenia's highest peak, from Mt Jalovec, in the Julian Alps.
Photo: Robert Hrovat/STA

The Slovenian Julian Alps biosphere reserve was designated as early as 2003 as the first such reserve in the country. It spreads over ten municipalities with Triglav National Park (TNP) at its core.

A few years ago, the Prealpi Giulie Regional Nature Park took the same step, having the Italian Julian Alps Man and Biosphere (MAB) Reserve designated for 11 Italian municipalities.

The two parks, which manage their respective reserves, signed an agreement last month in Trenta,
Slovenia, to win designation for a common Julian Alps UNESCO MAB Biosphere Reserve.

Such a project is quite rare or even unique in European space, TNP official Majda Odar, adding that the goal is to have a joint management of the reserve.

The two parks have been closely cooperating since 1996, carrying out a number of projects together. They first announced their bid for the cross-border Julian Alps UNESCO MAB Biosphere reserve.

In 2009, EUROPARC federation designated the trans-boundary Julian Alps Ecoregion and in 2014 the Alpine Convention declared the areas of the two parks a pilot region for eco-connectivity.

The two parks and other stakeholders have also realised the opportunity for closer cooperation in developing sustainable tourism.

EUROPARC certified the Julian Alps Ecoregion with the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in 2016 as the first trans-boundary region. The charter was successfully renewed last year.

The Julian Alps Biosphere Reserve constitutes an important Alpine corridor, notably for large carnivores as well as birds.

Talking about the challenges for the cross-border biosphere reserve, Odar said "the key thing is to erase the border as much as possible and see the area comprehensively as a whole geographic region without the border crossing it". One example is marking hiking trails together.

The MAB programme is an intergovernmental scientific programme of the UNESCO that aims to establish a scientific basis for enhancing the relationship between people and their environments.

Running since 1971, it aims to establish a balance between humans, nature and cultural heritage. The designated biosphere areas serve as models of how sustainable development can be achieved.

The World Network of Biosphere Reserves currently counts 714 sites in 129 countries all over the world, including 21 transboundary sites.

Apart from the Julian Alps, Slovenia has three other biosphere reserves: the Karst (designated in 2004), Kozjansko and Obsotelje (2010) and Mura River (2018).

© STA, 2021