The Slovenia Times

Julian Alps become a cross-border biosphere

Environment & Nature
The Tolminka Valley in the Julian Alps, Slovenia. Photo: An┼że Malovrh/STA

Slovenia and Italy have succeeded with their joint bid for UNESCO to designate a Transboundary Biosphere Reserve in the Julian Alps, an area spanning 277,000 hectares in both countries.

The new biosphere brings together the Slovenian Julian Alps Biosphere Reserve and the Italian Julian Prealps Biosphere Reserve, managed by Slovenia's Triglav National Park and Italy's Prealpi Giulie Nature Park, respectively.

The new biosphere was declared at a meeting of the international coordinating council of UNESCO's Man and Biosphere Programme (MAB) in Morocco on 5 July.

The MAB coordinating council pointed to natural and cultural characteristics of the cross-border biosphere reserve and the efforts of the stakeholders on both sides of the border for a new, joint reserve.

The committee wants to encourage Slovenia and Italy to continue their efforts for an expansion that would also include the Dobratsch park in Austria.

The MAB network includes 738 biosphere reserves across the world, but only 23 are cross-border reserves.

The Julian Alps on the Slovenian side of the border acquired biosphere reserve status in 2003, becoming the first such reserve in the country. The Italian side attained it in 2019.

The Slovenian reserve spans ten municipalities with Triglav National Park (TNP) at its core.

The TNP and its Italian counterpart 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 2018.

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.

EUROPARC certified the Julian Alps Ecoregion with the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in 2016 as the first trans-boundary region.

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

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

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