To all nature lovers and visitors to natural areas - Join Our Partnership With Nature!
Join us in this significant time and space in which we live. Only our joint efforts and effective actions can ensure quality protection of nature and its wild biodiversity. Together for our planet's biosphere, for life that includes Earth's surface, air, water and all living organisms on our planet - from 11,000 m ocean deepest depths to 7000 m heavenly heights.
Nature, Biodiversity, Survival
We started our regional Green Mission in 2014 and after just a couple of years we saw a first significant step forward on the road towards lasting, systemic change! Our sincere gratitude to everyone who made this possible!
Nature, all that richness and beauty of our planet's biodiversity, needs just a little bit of our cooperation to successfully recover its many ecosystems that have long been under a lot of pressure. Protected natural areas are especially vulnerable. While they all present a critical tool for safeguarding biodiversity, many of them have gradually become very attractive holiday destinations.
National parks and other conservation areas, cover hardly 15,0% of the Earth's terrestrial area and only 7,0% of the Earth's ocean area, and although there has been an encouraging increase in protected area coverage, especially marine areas, these percentages are still too small to ensure the survival of diverse species and ecosystems.
Our regional destination has two such precious biodiversity zones within striking distance, 2Parks.
We, like many other parks, are facing an increase in the number of visitors, but also the new ways in which tourists wish to use parks. In addition to enjoying beautiful landscapes, more and more guests also wish to enjoy their favorite sports and pastimes often too close to the most attractive parts of national parks, unaware that due to the number of tourists and tourism practices many problems arise that contribute to the deterioration of these 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) and depleted natural resources necessary to sustain life.
All these circumstances associated with the uncontrolled development of various tourist activities have already proven highly detrimental in many protected ecosystems and local communities around the world!
It was therefore our mission from the very beginning to manage the lands not only in, but also around national parks in ways that will allow as much biodiversity as possible to be preserved - and this can only be achieved through our joint efforts.
Let's continue making tourism a strong positive force together. Only through our joint efforts we can minimize all negative impacts and provide long-term support for protected areas and local communities.
Respect (park rules), Protect (Nature), Have Fun!
Quite a number of of protected natural attractions around the world are forced to close to visitors. One of the latest was Thailand’s famous Maya Bay in the Hat Nopparat Thara-Mu Koh Phi Phi National Park. On Oct 1, 2018, Thailand’s department of national parks, wildlife, and plant conservation announced that Maya Bay is being closed indefinitely to give its ecosystem time to fully recover. Nearly 80% of the local coral reefs are destroyed by mass tourism!
Rainforests, coral reefs and wetlands are the most productive ecosystems on planet Earth!!
On October 26, 2019, Parks Australia permanently closed the climb on the iconic red rock Uluru in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Thirty-five years ago, on Oct 26, 1985, Uluru and Kata Tjuta were handed back to the Anangu traditional owners and since then they have been pleading with tourists to respect the sacred site and its great cultural value, but in vain, the UNESCO Natural Heritage Site was instead covered in human feces and trash. No more, the focus now will be on the culture and the environment and anyone who chooses to ignore the closure will be significantly penalized.
Sadly, in many protected areas around the world the damage has already been done, so it is of crucial importance for all the others threatened with the same fate to act resolutely and prevent further accumulation of negative impacts on protected natural and cultural heritage.
The only key to saving important ecosystems and wildlife is to protect their habitats and the quality of the environment, otherwise we will continue to witness the loss of vitally important biodiversity on which our survival depends.
Here are the three main negative impact areas on protected nature:
- depletion of natural resources - overuse of water resources for hotels, swimming pools and personal use, great pressure on local energy and food supply, land degradation caused by excessive construction, etc.,
- pollution - water, air, and noise pollution, increased solid waste, littering, and sewage pollution, etc.,
- physical impacts - construction activities and infrastructure development, unsustainable use of land, trampled vegetation, etc.
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 Reports
UNESCO World Heritage Committee
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee presents the annual "List of World Heritage in Danger" - out of 1154 protected sites, already 52 are in great danger!
Link: List of World Heritage in Danger
Each person, individually or collectively, who acts at the level of consciousness that has been accumulating serious problems in our societies cannot provide solutions - that level of consciousness only knows how to accumulate new problems, to put it mildly.
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.
Tourism undoubtedly represents an important source of local and national income and employment, but if not responsibly managed it poses the most serious threat to the natural environment and social sustainability.
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 also accessible to all those seeking peace and recuperative break from modern life, but all those seeking serenity at parks are finding a major obstacle today - hundreds of thousands 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 AIR POLLUTION" - rising numbers of tourists with cars may be the biggest threat to protected areas, causing serious air pollution, noise pollution, and, consequently, serious natural and atmospheric disturbances. Exhaust emissions are a mix of gases and particulate matter, and some of these gases and matter are very toxic and potentially very harmful to humans and other living organisms, such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, formaldehyde, benzene and soot, all of which we certainly don't want to inhale while in the protected natural areas and nature in general!
2. "SOLID WASTE ACCUMULATION" - a major problem for national parks and surrounding local communities. Uncontrolled tourism growth leads to enormous amounts of solid waste accumulation that produces considerable damage to ecosystems. Furthermore, often inadequate local waste management infrastructure only worsens one of the most urgent health and environmental problems today.
3. "SOIL & VEGETATION TRAMPLING" - extensive use of land without the resting period eventually leads 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 outnumber the local population which means diversion and depletion of resources and services from local communities (especially drinking water - personal use, swimming pools), creating shortages that pose a serious risk of ecosystem degradation, and endanger the health and wellbeing of local residents.
5. "INCREASED SEWAGE" - construction of new tourist facilities and often inadequate or non-existent integrated wastewater management system leads to increased sewage pollution. Wastewater pollutes local freshwater resources and causes a serious threat to human, animal, plant, and ecosystem health.
6. "RED ALERT for WILDLIFE" - the areas in and near national parks are developed for living or accommodation space, forestry, agriculture, forestry, etc., leaving protected animal species trapped inside the park. Animals don't care for artificial boundaries and must move in and out of the parks to feed, mate, or migrate, so many species lives depend on undisturbed ecological wildlife corridors, including lands outside of parks.
Example of a Wildlife Corridor
Only with our joint efforts we will be able to help tourism have healthy social, economic and environmental impacts on host communities. Short-term financial gains and unsustainable tourism practices and holiday wishes must never outweigh a true care for the environment and the host community.
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. Regretfully, despite the rapid rate of tourism growth the environmental, economic, and socio-cultural impacts of mass tourism are rarely discussed and explained in local communities.
Part of our responsibility is to secure quality information flow and collaborative working of all parties on a local community level as well as to provide platforms to raise public awareness of the importance of proactive participation of citizens in the process of local planning and decision-making that affects their lives and the environment.
As tourist, we can significantly help just by carefully choosing products and services that encourage the destination sustainability and support local responsible entrepreneurs in tourism. Choose wisely because you will witness a surge of “carefully selected" words about nature protection and community wellbeing coming from the very same people who have been unscrupulously exploiting nature and communities driven by self-interest or by 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:
Those who advocate for the community
In this group you will find responsible entrepreneurs that offer locally sourced food and goods, charge fair prices, develop quality products and services that reflect and enhance their local community, use natural resources sustainably, promote community partnerships and - are proud of their origin aa well as natural and cultural heritage. Support them!!
Those who advocate for selfish goals
In this group you will find entrepreneurs who will generally offer you goods and services that neither reflect nor enhance a host community. Moreover, they offer inauthentic products and services which are generally overcharged, they unscrupulously exploit a community and nature, and incite unfair competition and conflicts. Their origin as well as natural and cultural heritage are irrelevant to them. Deny them your support!!
See through exaggerated and fancy ads - support the ones who really care! Now, more than ever before, we need to sharpen the power of critical thinking and real discernment between big words and actual deeds (both past and present) of individuals and policy makers at the local, and global level.
Be Part of the Solution
We are all part of the solution because 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 - nature protection and scientific research and education. At the same time local residents are largely dependent on tourism as an important source of income and employment.
It is for this reason that the problem of nature protection requires joint efforts of national parks, local communities (citizens and officials) and visitors!
We therefore invite you to 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?
Healthy ecosystems perform a number of services which are classified in four main groupings: provisioning (the production of food and water, genetic resources, wood,...) regulating (the control of climate, disease, flooding, water quality, bio waste disposal,...) supporting (ensuring the functioning of all ecosystems through: nutrient circulation, oxygen production, soil formation, biomass production,…) cultural (ensuring spiritual and recreational benefits, rest, aesthetic enjoyment,…).
Biodiversity is the foundation for life and all key ecosystems services - our life support system!
What is the importance of wildlife?
Wildlife includes all animals that live in the wild and in all ecosystems (deserts, forests, grasslands, etc.) 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 crucial biodiversity is 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.
The main cause of this process is industrial activity!!
Today we know that the greatest threat that faces many species, and the most endangered is the population of wild vertebrates, is the widespread destruction of their habitats primarily for the purpose of harvesting natural resources for industrial production and urbanization.
A group of people who make huge profits from their unsustainable industrial activities is very small, and a mere attempt to shift the responsibility for environmental crisis to the entire human species is absolutely unacceptable. For the most part, the responsibility of most people lies upon them buying or using products or services with a high ecological footprint, not because they particularly want to do it, but because most of them are kept in permanent poverty so only cheaper and lower quality goods in non-degradable packaging are available to them. What most of us can do is to properly dispose garbage, recycle waste and use water responsibly - and that's a lot, now please check below to see the impact of industries on the environment!
Earth Overshoot Day
Just how relentlessly the resources of our planet are being depleted is presented annually by the international nonprofit organization Global Footprint Network which calculates ecological overshoot, a day when senseless demand for ecological resources and services exceed what our planet can regenerate and rejuvenate in the whole year.
They compute Earth Overshoot Day by dividing the planet's biocapacity (the amount of ecological resources Earth is able to generate that year), by the ecological footprint (demand for that year), and multiplying by 365 days. Before the 70s the Ecological Footprint was lower than Earth’s biocapacity, meaning that no overshoot was present.
Since that time, the Overshoot Day has been coming earlier year by year, proving that Earth's ecological resources are being used up in advance.
Poluttion and ruthless exploitation of natural resources already have dire consequences for human lives around the planet!
There is no doubt that the changes are here and that will increasingly influence the fulfillment of some basic human needs and rights - like clean, accessible, and affordable fresh water and healthy food.
Warnings have become more frequent, and one was particularly shocking - Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), approved at the 7th session of the IPBES Plenary meeting (29 April - 4 May, 2019) in Paris.
The most extensive global research was compiled by 145 experts (and another 310 contributing authors) from 50 countries over the past three years; the Report assesses changes over the past five decades, providing clear evidence of devastating impacts of economic growth on natural environment that is now declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history.
The statistics in this report are shocking, to say the least:
- 75% of the terrestrial environment and about 66% of the marine environment have been significantly altered by industrial activities;
- more than a third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75% of freshwater resources are used for crop or livestock production;
- urban areas have more than doubled since 1992;
- 15% increase in global per capita consumption of materials since 1980;
- plastic pollution has increased ten times since 1980 (about 8 million tons of plastic waste are dumped in the world's oceans every year!!);
- 300-400 million tons of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge and other wastes from industrial facilities are dumped annually into the world’s waters;
- fertilizers entering coastal ecosystems have produced more than 400 ocean ‘dead zones’ - more than 245,000 km2;
- approximately 60 billion tons of renewable and non-renewable resources are extracted globally each year - nearly doubled since 1980;
- the value of agricultural crop production has increased by about 300% since 1970;
- raw timber harvest has risen by 45% (In 2020, the world lost 25.8Mha (million hectare) of tree cover; Global Forest Watch)
- land degradation has reduced the productivity of 23% of the global land surface;
- up to US$577 billion in annual global crops are at risk from pollinator loss;
- 100-300 million people are at increased risk of floods and hurricanes because of loss of coastal habitats and protection.
“We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.” IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson
- out of 8,7 million of a total estimated number of animal and plant species on Earth, up to 1 million species are threatened with extinction, many within decades;
- 5.9 million terrestrial species lack sufficient habitat for long term survival;
- 40% amphibian species are threatened with extinction;
- more than 85% of wetlands present in 1700 had been lost by 2000 - wetlands are a critical part of our natural environment: they protect and improve water quality, provide habitat for a wide diversity of plants and animals, reduce the impacts of floods and maintain surface water flow during dry periods. Wetlands are the vital link between land and water.
The Report stated that only fundamental, transformative changes encompassing economic, social, political and technological factors, including old paradigms, goals and values, can produce results:
- total system-wide reorganization;
- prioritization of biodiversity considerations across all key sector planning;
- open and proactive participation of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities in governance;
- integrated management - a holistic, cross-functional management approach that takes into account the connectivity between humans, the environment and the economy;
- cross-sectoral approaches - relating to all the actors that are actively involved in the process of the trade-offs of food and energy production, infrastructure, freshwater and coastal management, and biodiversity conservation;
- the application of different value systems and diverse interests and worldviews to policies and actions;
- the reform and development of incentive structures - methods and ways to encourage or discourage certain practices, behaviors, policies, actions or choices;
- radical change of old paradigms, goals as well as belief and value systems! In our experience, the fundamental but the hardest to change!
We have been officially working on this process of transformative change since April 4, 2014 and we can confirm one thing - this is an extremely difficult process.
But there is no alternative, only through radical, transformative changes can we create and maintain conditions for ecological restoration, as well as sustained and equitable economic growth and development!
Previous five mass species extinctions happened long before humans appeared, hence there is no empirical data and knowledge of what might happen next!
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. "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.
5. "REDUCE PLASTIC USE" - avoid using plastic materials whenever you can, use reusable water bottles & coffee cups, recycle as much as possible. Never throw plastic in nature because it causes serious pollution and poses a great danger to both humans and the natural environment.
6. "DON'T LITTER" - never throw a piece of trash on the ground, find nearest garbage or recycling bins and throw it away properly.
7. "BE ENERGY & WATER WISE" - turn off & unplug appliances, lights and switches when leaving your 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 put a serious strain on our local water resources, causing water shortages and suffering for both people and the wildlife.
8. "COLLECT ONLY MEMORIES" - plants, rocks and artifacts are protected items and should be left for all to enjoy.
9. “RESPECT the WILDLIFE" - observe wildlife from a safe and respectful distance, don't disturb or feed wild animals.
10. “FOLLOW the GUIDELINES" - follow the instructions regarding recreation and leisure activities you can do in protected areas.
11."SUPPORT & EXPLORE LOCAL" - apply these environmental measures to the areas surrounding parks, respect local culture, economy and environment no matter where you are. There are many equally beautiful options within close vicinity, from natural beauty to diverse and interesting events. Enjoy various products, services or gastronomy in local restaurants with fresh, seasonal foods - support rural areas' survival and development.
There is one more important environmental measure!
Help Preserve Natural Sounds in National Parks!
The natural soundscape of many national parks is increasingly affected by non-natural sounds - by preserving natural sounds we help preserve the wilderness and improve the visitor experiences!
Eco and Responsible
Let's embrace ecotourism, let's embrace a regenerative system that maintains the necessary balance between social, economic and ecological elements at a host community level. We all have the power to make a positive impact!
So 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 and visitation to relatively undisturbed natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and accompanying cultural feature - both past and present) that promotes conservation, has low visitor impact, and provides for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local populations.” (International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN)
Save and improve everything that is good, redo and change only what is not good for people and nature! It should be, and it is, as simple as that.
Together we can make a difference, thank you for caring and participating!
Welcome to GWT2P destination!