The inspiring sustainable stories from Slovenia
The Green Destinations international organisation, which awards sustainability certificates around the world and strives to make tourism friendly not only to people but also to the environment, has again published a list of the hundred greenest stories from around the globe. The stories are examples of good practices that can serve as an example for the global tourism industry. In 2023, six Slovenian stories from destinations with the Slovenia Green certificate were among the hundred most inspiring sustainability stories. Would you like to know what the good practices from Slovenia are that can be taken as inspiration for further sustainable operations?
Kranj: The SOS Proteus Information Centre and the Tular Cave Laboratory
When they hear the word olm, most people probably first think of Postojna Cave. However, many people probably do not know that a very special laboratory, which plays an important role in preserving this exceptional cave species, is hidden in the tunnels under the old town of Kranj, less than 80 kilometres to the north. At the SOS Proteus Information Centre, visitors can learn first-hand from the researchers of the Tular Cave Laboratory everything about the olm’s life in its underground kingdom and the importance of clean underground water for its survival. The olms at the Information Centre are rescued animals that were brought from the caves to the surface by floods and would otherwise not have been able to survive. The Tular laboratory is one of two of its kind in the world, and researchers led by biologist Gregor Aljančič are also doing pioneering work by monitoring the impact of visitors on the olm.
Brežice: the traditional Bread, Wine and Salami Day event
With its rugged landscape and favourable climate, Brežice and its surroundings make an excellent location for viticulture, which, however, has gradually started to decline due to the loss of interest among young people. In order to encourage the further preservation of the wine-growing tradition, Brežice started organising the Day of Bread, Wine and Salami event. The traditional event features local winegrowers, bakers, local meat producers, and local bands. In special wine tasting glasses, which may be kept as a souvenir, visitors have the opportunity to taste renowned local wines, such as white and red Bizeljčan, perhaps Blue Frankish, Cviček and Yellow Plavetz. The stands smell of fresh bread and local delicacies, the most popular of them being apple strudel and buckwheat cake. If you like dry meat products, taste those made from the meat of Krško Polje pig, a pig breed indigenous to the area.
The Šalek Valley: the secrets of sunken villages
The story of the secrets of sunken villages is an extremely interesting example of how to turn the unique history of a destination into a tourist attraction that benefits the local economy. The secret of the sunken villages is a real historical treat for anyone interested in looking behind the scenes of the Šalek Valley. Through this five-star experience, visitors can learn about the mining tradition in one of the richest lignite deposits in the world and the consequences of intensive mining activities. After visiting the Coal Mining Museum of Slovenia and descending by elevator 160 meters underground, visitors sitting on a boat experience a virtual dive by watching a video about the formation of the local lakes that conceal the sunken villages. The four-hour long experience ends at the beautiful Vista Park right on the shore of Velenje Lake, where visitors are treated to local delicacies
Miren Kras: the Together for Karst project – for reviving the fire-stricken area
Miren Karst is considered one of the greenest destinations in Slovenia, and even on a global scale its sustainability initiative has been taken notice of and ranked among the best examples of good practice. In 2022, however, the destination and its wider area were affected by an extensive forest fire, which caused true devastation in a matter of 17 days. But the residents of Karst do not give up. Four Karst municipalities affected by the fire rolled up their sleeves and joined together in the Together for Karst project, in which also involves the participation of the Slovenian Forest Service and the non-profit Vrabček Upanja (Sparrow of Hope) Foundation that watches over donations. Their common goal is to restore this part of the Karst to its former glory and restore its tourist industry. In addition to restoring the fire-stricken area, plans also include a new green hiking trail that will call hikers' attention to the gravity of climate change and the importance of environmental protection.
Ljubljana: creative handicraft workshops
Ljubljana is considered one of the greenest capitals in Europe, which is also corroborated by its inspiring stories that have been included in the Top 100 Stories list nine times. In 2023, attention was drawn to the creative handicraft workshops – eight boutique experiences in which guests learn about and acquire interesting skills such as umbrella making, goldsmithing, pottery, weaving or printing. The workshops are held in shops and studios, which allows Ljubljana to preserve interesting traditional crafts in the city itself, and guests from all over the world to take home something more than just an ordinary souvenir. Workshops offer an experience for which one needs to take time. And it is worth taking the time since, in addition to valuable knowledge and skills, one is rewarded with a lot of fun. It will take an hour and a half to repair an umbrella, but three or four hours to make one's own ring.
Jeruzalem: Ormož Basins – from industrial reservoirs to nature reserve
The story of the Ormož Basins nature reserve is an excellent example of how a degraded area can become a nature reserve. The wetlands in the Drava River ecosystem stretching along the Ormož Lake is the nesting ground of many endangered bird species and an important stopping point for migratory birds in Slovenia, as the number of birds during the migration season can reach tens of thousands. The former reservoirs for the wastewater from the Ormož Sugar Factory were an important habitat for birds while the factory was still in operation. After the closure of the factory, these reservoirs were converted into a nature reserve and handed over to the Slovenian Bird Observation and Study Society. The Society arranged a constant flow of water, cleared the reservoirs of woody vegetation and built islands of different sizes to increase the variety of habitats and nesting sites. Today, the area is a popular place not only for bird watching, but also for relaxation, nature walks and guided tours.