United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Croatia presented its findings of the field visit to the Dinaride mountain chain within the project „Walking the Via Dinarica“ which passed through Croatia from 28 September - 10 October. During the walk, the mountaneering team visited Plitvice Lakes, and the mountains of Biokovo, Mosor, Promina, Dinara, Velebit, Kapela, Risnjak and Snježnik. The goal of the project is to promote the development of tourism potential and contribute to the rural development of the Dinarides, one of the most beautiful parts of the mountainous nature Croatia can offer to adventurous and other visitors.
In the Croatian part of the Dinarides there is the highest number of protected areas such as strict reservoirs, national parks and nature parks which attract an increasing number of visitors due to its unquestionable beauty. “However, additional investment is necessary for protected areas in order to preserve their value and further develop the touristic offer which must be in accordance with the highest ecological standards”—stated Louisa Vinton, UNDP Resident Representative. “UNDP supports such efforts because strengthened protected areas with a high number of visitors can act as local generators of rural development for surrounding areas.”
“Croatia is in such a position that it can become a regional leader in many areas, and can transfer its knowledge and experiences to other countries in the region”—stated Nenad Strizrep, Deputy Minister of Environmental and Nature Protection. “The goal of the document which was recently adopted by Croatia Big Win for Dinaric Arc is the creation of a recognizable network of well conserved areas and the development of the Dinaride brand, which will result in an economic profit on a national and regional level. The project now includes 79 protected areas in 8 countries. The Dinarides are of great importance and for the future it is necessary to include all parallel projects being implemented. Dinarides do not have to be the Alps since they have their own value, and include 5.000 different species, and a wide diversity of architectural and cultural heritage. We only need to conserve it and further develop mountaineering infrastructure and branding.”
Croatia, in terms of resources, is one of the most developed countries included in Via Dinarica and has an important role in knowledge and experience transfer in the region. However, there is still a need for additional improvement; especially when it comes to accommodation facilities - mountain huts, houses and shelters, and an all encompassing offer of the local population.
“Our Dinaride mountain chain is a fertile ground for the development of mountaineering and other various forms of adventure tourism”—stated Alan Čaplar, guide-instructor of the Croatian Mountaineering Association and the editor of the Croatian Mountaineer magazine. “This is why Croatia wants to deepen and enrich the cooperation it has with the neighboring countries into a unique pathway which will connect the most beautiful parts of the Dinarides.”At the same time, it will also be a great opportunity for the development of local communities which will not be connected with Via Dinarica. Holders of the linking hiking and tourism opportunities in the Croatian Dinarides will the guides of the Croatian Mountaineering Association. "
“Via Dinarica is a project which connects countries. This part of Europe deserves to be promoted in tourism, sport and all other remaining aspects”—stated Darko Berljak, Secretary of the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service. “Croatian Mountain Rescue Service sees itself in the context of security. We want security as a product, to be compatible and of high quality. These borders will no longer exist in a tourist sense, the entire area of the Dinarides Mountains represent one area. In that sense, the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service can achieve a lot, since security is of everyone’s concern.”
Via Dinarica walk started from Albania in August this year and passed the entire region of the Dinaride Arc through five countries, including Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia. It is a regional UNDP project in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.
Project team, headed by the famous alpinist and guide Kenan Muftić and a professional photographer Elma Okić, was joined in Croatia by the guides of the Croatian Mountaineering Association from Zagreb and other stations together with the UNDP representatives. During the tour, the team met with the representatives of the protected areas: national parks and nature parks; local and regional government; touristic communities; mountaineering associations and clubs; Croatian Mountain Rescue Service and many other service providers in adventure tourism.
Via Dinarica was presented as part of the marking of the International Mountain Day, 11 December, under the slogan: “Mountains—key to a sustainable future” which highlights the importance of mountains for the lives of people and key economic development in terms of decreasing poverty and giving the attention to the low carbon emission model. Goods and services coming from mountains are the key for sustainability. Mountains grant fresh and clean water, preserve biodiversity and are home to one out of ten people in the world.
Mountains at the same time: (1) cover one quarter of the total land area of the Earth; (2) are home to almost one billion people and a quarter of plant and animal species; (3) preserve 70% of clean water; (4) mountain inhabitants are among the poorest people in the world.