GWT2P Mission and Vision
Dear visitors and guests, you play an important role in pursuing our mission and vision. Without our joint efforts and effective actions, we cannot ensure that wild biodiversity will be adequately protected in the years to come. We need your understanding and support!
Join Our Partnership With Nature!
We are committed to meet our responsibility to strongly contribute to rural revitalization and green and regenerative growth of our local communities.
We strive to educate and help raise awareness of the importance of civil society participation in the preservation of natural and cultural heritage and the protection of endangered plant and animal species.
We seek to enhance ecological sustainability and raise local living standards by creating meaningful partnerships between our national parks and local communities and by promoting and supporting our local entrepreneurs, their produce and product-based companies, and various services both enjoyable and healthy for you and aligned with your values.
New Consciousness - New Vision
Our vision is a regenerative, sustainable and inclusive life in lasting peace and a healthy and safe natural environment.
Plitvice Lakes NP, HR - Una NP, BA
Municipality of Plitvice Lakes, HR - Town of Bihać, BA
The relentless pace of modern life motivates a growing number of us, people across the globe, to choose a completely stress-free vacation, away from seven different kinds of environmental pollution. Very often these are some of the amazing natural areas with rich biodiversity and unspoiled beauty, simply because the synergistic combination of exercise and exposure to nature offers one of the most reliable boosts to our mental and physical well-being. It is not surprising, therefore, that many natural sites have become particularly attractive holiday destinations, which in turn promoted numerous protected areas, particularly world heritage sites, into main tourist attractions with growing visitation.
But this story of tourism in protected or unspoiled natural areas has its downside as well, and we can already painfully attest the truth of this fact by our own experience.
Our regional destination has two national parks within strking distance, and tourism, although offering well-known advantages, is now posing a growing threat to the protected ecosystems.
In addition to the increasing number of visitors, tourists also use parks in new ways nowadays hoping to enjoy not only serene landscapes but also favorite sports and pastimes too close to the most attractive parts of national parks, unfortunately often times unaware that because of the amount of tourism many problems arise that contribute to the deterioration of protected areas. At the same time, many natural and cultural values in surrounding local communities remain almost completely neglected, but they get piles of garbage, contaminated environment (air, water, noise, etc.) and depleted natural resources necessary to sustain life.
Our 2Parks are also faced with imminent danger for both natural and cultural heritage!
Plitvice Lakes are on the one hand threatened by serious overcrowding, especially in the peak season, while Una is facing serious consequences of increased use of the protected area for extreme sports and recreation.
These circumstances, associated with mass tourism and the uncontrolled development of various tourist activities, have proven highly detrimental and destructive in many protected ecosystems and local communities around the world!
Tourism can only be a strong positive force through our joint efforts, only then we can mitigate negative impacts and provide long-term support for protected areas and local communities.
Follow Rules at National Parks!
While we leave ourselves wondering what's all the fuss about mass tourism, tourist hotspots around the world are forced to close to visitors. One of the latest is Thailand’s famous Maya Bay on Koh Phi Phi Leh island, now closed to visitors from June to September in hope to give the fragile coral reefs and the marine environment some time to recover (nearly 80% of the country’s coral reefs are destroyed!!). Shocking photos of Maya Bay
In many national parks around the world the damage has already been done, but for others who are threatened by the same fate is of crucial importance to act resolutely to prevent further accumulation of negative impacts on protected natural and cultural heritage.
Here are three main impact areas:
- depletion of natural resources - overuse of water resources for hotels, swimming pools and personal use, great pressure on local energy sources, food supply, land degradation for accommodation and other infrastructure, etc.,
- pollution - air and noise pollution, solid waste and littering, increased sewage pollution, etc.,
- physical impacts - construction activities and infrastructure development, deforestation and unsustainable use of land, trampled vegetation and soil, etc.
The key to saving wildlife is to protect their habitats and the quality of the environment, otherwise there is a chance of losing important ecosystems and wildlife on which our survival depends.
National parks and other conservation areas cover only about 15,4 % of the Earth's terrestrial area and only 3.4% of the ocean area, not nearly enough to ensure the survival of species and ecological communities alone. ("Protected Planet Report 2016")
In a world that relentlessly destroys nature, this protected areas are among the last important sites for wildlife, and now even these areas are facing multiple threats.
It is our intention to be among the first to also manage the lands outside national parks in ways that allow as much biodiversity as possible to be maintained.
In a crowd like this, we can't hear nature sounds!
Call to Action
Some of the leading environmental and nature protection organizations have been repeatedly warning of serious problems and calling for global action!
UN Environment (UNEP) & International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
In the "Protected Planet Report 2016", the UNEP and IUCN stated that some of the most biodiverse ecosystems are in great danger!
Link: Protected Planet Report 2016
UNESCO World Heritage Committee
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee presents the annual "List of World Heritage in Danger" - out of 1073 protected sites, already 54 are in great danger!
Link: List of Danger
"No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it."
As long as we use old thinking patterns and continue to treat our planet and nature as disposable resources, or elevate self-interest and personal gain above the community wellbeing, we remain trapped in a closed and self-destructive circle!
Individuals, organizations or political parties that operate at a level of consciousness that has accumulated serious problems in our societies around the world, equally threatening to people and nature, cannot provide solutions to major local, national, regional, and global problems - they can only provide new ones!
The way out of that dangerous trap is through new awareness and joint, proactive work of all people who can contribute to the general well-being and prosperity.
Lake Ecosystem - protected and endangered!
Tourism does represent an important source of income and employment, but at the same time is a potential threat to the very environments that are supposed to be protected.
Parks are set aside for a good reason, they are our national treasures and sites of great biodiversity importance, and as such primarily oriented towards nature protection, research and education.
Of course parks are accessible to all those seeking peace and recuperative break from modern life, but all those seeking serenity at national parks are finding a major obstacle - millions others looking for the same thing at the same time.
Let's see what kind of ecological damage we have in consequence of mass tourism:
1. "INCREASED POLLUTION" - rising numbers of tourists with cars may be the biggest threat to protected areas, causing serious air and noise pollution and natural disturbances.
2. "SOLID WASTE ACCUMULATION" - also seen as a major problem, both for national parks and surrounding local communities. Uncontrolled tourism growth leads to enormous amounts of solid waste accumulation that produces considerable damage to ecosystems. In addition, inadequate local waste management infrastructure only worsens one of the most crucial health and environmental health problems.
3. "SOIL & VEGETATION TRAMPLING" - caused by the extensive use of land, without the resting period, that can eventually lead to the loss of biodiversity (elimination of tree seedlings results in the loss of trees, reduction of the species diversity, erosion, ...).
4. "RESOURCE SCARCITY" - visitor overcrowding is a major problem during peak season when the number of visitors surpasses parks capacities. During that time tourists also outnumber the local population which means diversion of resources and services (especially drinking water) from local communities, creating shortages and a serious risk of ecosystem degradation.
5. "INCREASED SEWAGE" - construction of new tourist facilities and often inadequate or non-existent integrated wastewater management system leads to increased sewage pollution that threatens the health of humans and animals. Wastewater pollutes local fresh water resources, creating a serious threat to human, animal, plant, and ecosystem health.
6. "RED ALERT for WILDLIFE" - the areas surrounding national parks, and often areas inside protected parks, are developed for living or accomodation space, agriculture, forestry, etc. leaving protected animal species trapped inside the park. Animals don't recognize artificial boundaries and must move in and out of the parks to feed, mate, or migrate. Many species lives depend on large and undisturbed ecological wildlife corridors, including lands outside of parks.
Example of a Wildlife Corridor
Tourism will only have healthy socio-economic impacts on local community if it is carefully managed so that potential negative effects on the host community and the environment are not permitted to outweigh the financial benefits.
Combination of the economically weak, rural society and mass tourism that aims at quick economic revenues usually means little or no emphasis on environmental and social impacts and sustainable development. Regretfully, despite the rapid rate of tourism growth in many, especially developing countries, the economic and socio-cultural impacts of mass tourism are never discussed and explained in local communities.
Local people must be actively involved in a wide range of development activities and decision-making as equal partners because they have a vested interest in the well-being of their community, and are therefore more accountable to environmental protection than foreign multinational corporations which now typically dominate markets in developing countries and reap enormous profits.
Recently, we are increasingly witnessing a surge of “carefully selected & pompous” words about nature conservation and community development that are coming out of the mouths of the very same people or groups who have been openly and unscrupulously exploiting and destroying the very same communities and nature around the world, driven by self-interest and greed or pandering to special interest groups and lobbies.
Among them are some entrepreneurs in tourism whose greed we may unknowingly support.
These characteristics can help us discern between:
Service to Community
- commitment to promoting and helping others to achieve mutual goals and a positive reality while preserving a healthy natural environment;
- lack of ego satisfaction (transcended egoism): thoughtfulness, modesty, admiration, courage, calmness, knowledge, wisdom;
- information and knowledge are shared freely; other people's ideas are respected and valued;
- individual, personal journeys are recognized and valued (no aspirations to dominate and control others for the purpose of achieving particular, selfish goals);
- individuals are responsible for each other in a collective strive for community growth and prosperity, at the same time protecting the environment and the natural resources their lives depend on.
Among others,in this group you will find responsible entrepreneurs that offer locally sourced/organic food and goods, charge fair prices, develop quality products that reflect and enhance their local community, use natural resources sustainably, promote waste reduction and recycling, and enhance community partnerships - they are honest and proud of their origin and heritage. Support them!!
Service to Self
- commitment to pursuing activities to support one's own existence while community and nature serve only as means (alibi) to achieve selfish goals: material gains, status, wealth, self-promotion, power;
- driven by ego: superiority, egotism, arrogance, jealousy, manipulativeness, deception, restlessness, unawareness, ignorance;
- information is sold for recognition and profit; other people's ideas are often stolen and used for self-promotion and material gain;
- individual pathways towards personal growth and development are not supported and not respected (it is easier to rule ignorance, manipulate the illiterate, and brainwash uneducated); the achievements of others are underestimated or stolen for personal and/or financial gain;
- the individual believes he is responsible only for his own well being and his own private gain (or for that of persons or organizations with which he is associated personally) where community and nature serve only as means (alibi) to achieve selfish goals.
Among others, this group contains entrepreneurs in tourism focused solely on financial gain and power. Although they will make a great effort to persuade you they're responsible, they generally offer goods and services that neither reflect nor enhance a host community. Moreover, they unscrupulously exploit a community and nature, incite unfair competition, conflicts and strife - both origin and natural and cultural heritage are irrelevant to them. Deny them your support!!
Be informed tourist, see through exaggerated and fancy ads - support the ones who really care. Now, more than ever before, the world needs to sharpen the power of critical thinking and real discernment between truth and lies, big words (pompous phrases, solemn words, exuberant promises and the high-sounding slogans) and actual deeds (both past and present) of individuals and policy makers at the local, regional, national, and global level.
Be Part of the Solution
We are all part of the solution, we all participate in tourism or depend on it. As tourists, we want and hope to visit beautiful, unique and clean environments. As hosts, we are aware that the income from tourism helps national parks to better fulfill their primary tasks - the protection of land, animals, habitats, and the promotion of scientific research and education. At the same time local residents are largely dependent on tourism as an important source of income and employment.
Managing tourism in a destination and nature protection issues require joint efforts of national parks, local communities and visitors!
Regardless of which part of the trefoil we belong to, we are all important. Only by making joint efforts and helping each other we can contribute to the solution, and education and critical thinking are the most important factors in solving problems! By being educated we become a part of the solution and we get more people to care about the problem at hand.
During your tour of protected areas learn more about why these particular areas are protected, how fragile the protected ecosystems are, and what tourism-related challenges they face.
The more we know, the better we can help to ease the problems by simply modifying our behaviour.
Please see our subpage Natural Heritage Gems designed to help you with being more informed traveler!
Some Basic Knowledge
Why is biodiversity so important?
Each species, no matter how small, all have an important role to play!
Ecosystems filter and purify water and air, regulate climatic processes, breakdown wastes and recycle nutrients, safeguard against flooding, maintain soil fertility, and provide natural resources such as food.
All agriculture depends fundamentally on biodiversity, as do marine and freshwater food resources.
Biodiversity is the basis of human existence, our life support system!
What is the importance of wildlife?
Wildlife includes all animals (mammals, birds, fish, etc) that live in the wild in all ecosystems (deserts, forests, rain forests, plains, grasslands, and other areas) and envelopes all kinds of undomesticated life from microorganisms to vegetation and fungi.
Each species functions with a specific role – as a predator, a prey, a decomposer, a preserver, and in this way helps to protect and maintain ecological balance.
Wildlife plays a crucial role in maintaining the fragile ecological balance of our planet!
If we take into account how much each species is vital to the existence of life as we know it, we will understand how worrisome is the information that our planet is now in the midst of its sixth mass extinction of plants and animals.
Scientists predict we may lose 50% of the planet's species by the end of the century!!
On September 20, 2014, the UN Headquarters in New York was lit up with massive projections as part of a global call for action on global climate change - Racing Extinction!
Have a look: Racing Extinction 2014
The main cause of this process is industrial activity!!
Today we know that the greatest threat that faces many species is the widespread destruction of habitats. The most endangered is the population of wild vertebrates. We can do at least something to protect endangered species and their habitats.
- Learn about endangered species in area where you live or vacation - learn how interesting and important wildlife is.
- Secure garbage in shelters - avoid attracting wild animals into developed areas where they must navigate a landscape full of human hazards.
- Plant native plants in your garden - provide food and shelter for native wildlife, attract native insects like bees and butterflies to pollinate your plants.
- Reduce the use of herbicides and pesticide in your garden - they are hazardous pollutants that affect wildlife at many levels.
- Report animal cruelty - shooting, trapping, or forcing a threatened or endangered animal into captivity is cruel and illegal.
- Volunteer - visit protected areas, wildlife refuge, or other open space and learn more interesting facts.
Have you heard about the Earth Overshoot Day?
That is a, not so happy, day when humanity's senseless demand for ecological resources and services exceed what our planet can regenerate and rejuvenate in the whole year.
Earth Overshoot Day 2017 landed on August 2, a new „black“ record!!
Overshoot Day is calculated by the Global Footprint Network, an international nonprofit organization with the mission to help end ecological overshoot.
They compute Earth Overshoot Day by dividing the planet's biocapacity (the amount of ecological resources Earth is able to generate that year), by humanity's ecological footprint (humanity's demand for that year), and multiplying by 365 days.
Year by year, the calculation proves that:
We deplete Earth's natural resources at the expense of our future generations who will have little or no resources left which are of vital importance for survival of humanity and all species on Earth!!
Before the 70s the Ecological Footprint was lower than Earth’s biocapacity, meaning that no overshoot was present.
Since then, the overshoot day has come earlier and earlier, and now nature inevitably strikes back with widely distributed weather anomalies and severe conditions we all witness!
Help Preserve and Protect
We can all do our part for nature with hardly any effort!
Here are some extremely simple protection measures we can start implementing right away:
1. "PLAN & PREPARE" - whenever your life circumstances allow it, schedule your trip to protected areas avoiding a time of high use when a negative impact is already at a very high level - avoid peak season.
2. “REDUCE CAR USE" - upon arrival, park your car and enjoy active travel such as walking and cycling for your tours and day trips in destination. Active travel is key in tackling air and noise pollution and has numerous health benefits.
3. "STAY ON THE PATH" - stay on durable surfaces, such as established trails and routes. Avoid shortcuts! This is very important in order to prevent trampling and vegetation destruction.
4. "EXPLORE LOCAL" - from accommodation, recreation to culture and entertainment, after visiting protected areas focus your attention on surounding local communities. There are many equally beautiful options within close vicinity of our 2Parks, from natural beauty to interesting and diverse events. Eat locally, not in the chain brands who tend to waste a large amount of food & monumental amounts of energy. Eat locally because it's better for your overall health, it tastes better, and it also gives back to the local economy and community. Go meatless at least once a week, the meat industry is one of the world's worst polluters and top contributors to climate change!
5. "REDUCE PACKAGING WASTE" - prior to your trip remove all packaging possible or choose items that come in compostable packaging. Help us to prevent litter from building up in national parks and local communities.
6. "REDUCE PLASTIC USE" - avoid using plastic materials whenever you can, use reusable water bottles & refillable coffee cups, recycle as much as possible, never throw plastic in the nature because it causes serious pollution and poses a great danger to both humans and the natural environment.
7. "DON'T LITTER" - place garbage and waste in appropriate containers or take with you, never throw a piece of trash down on the ground, find nearest garbage or recycle containers and throw it away properly.
8. "BE ENERGY & WATER WISE" - practice the same saving methods you use in your own home: turn off and unplug appliances, lights and switches when leaving your room/apartment, take shorter showers instead of baths, hang your towels to dry, rather than getting them washed. The more frequent and prolonged dry periods in summer and excessive water demand from tourism puts a serious strain on local water resources, causing water shortages and suffering for both people and the wildlife.
9. "COLLECT ONLY MEMORIES" - plants, rocks and artifacts are protected items and should be left for all to enjoy.
10. “RESPECT the WILDLIFE" - observe wildlife from a safe and respectful distance, don't disturb or feed wild animals.
11. “FOLLOW the GUIDELINES" - follow the instructions regarding recreation and leisure activities you can do in protected areas.
12."SUPPORT LOCAL" - apply these environmental measures to the areas beyond the boundaries of national parks, respect local culture, economy and environment no matter where you are in the world.
There is one more important thing!
Let's Preserve Natural Sounds in National Parks!
Together we can make a difference, thank you for caring and participating!
With joint efforts we can significantly contribute to environmental protection and local sustainable development. That balance between social, economic and ecological elements on a local community level can be achieved by creating a sustainable system that features ecotourism in its original meaning.
It is our responsibility as hosts to acknowledge the importance of alternative tourism, a slower but stable sustainable growth that shows more sensitivity for local social and economic needs, puts emphasis on active and involved local residents, and uses tourism revenues on a long term sustainable and green development.
Tourists play an extremely important role in that system - travel doesn’t have to be environmentally destructive!
Moreover, it is our human obligation to prevent the depletion of natural resources on which the livelihood of local people depends. We all have the power to make things better by following the above steps and, if necessary, demand more eco-conscious of the places we visit.
Sustainability initiatives are a must, and we are looking forward to seeing more of them in our destination, such as:
- rainwater harvesting, recycling programs, sustainable agriculture (organic industry, environmental labeling, efforts to reduce pesticide use, etc.) energy-efficient lighting, low-flow toilets, solar power, small domestic wind turbines, and other green initiatives.
Let's see how is Ecotourism defined:
- "Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education." (International Ecotourism Society, TIES)
- “Environmentally responsible travel to relatively undisturbed natural areas in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and accompanying cultural features, both past and present), that promote conservation, have a low visitor impact and provide beneficially active socio-economical involvement for local people.” (International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN)
At the same time, by enjoying local produce and participating in various interesting activities across our local communities we can jointly support further development of ecotourism and help revitalize life in rural communities.
Discover our local, embrace ecotourism that conserves the natural environment and sustains the well-being of local people!
Welcome to GWT2P destination!