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 people across the globe to choose a stress-free vacation away from seven different kinds of environmental pollution. Very often, these are some of the most 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 mental and physical well-being.
So it is no surprise that many natural sites, particularly world heritage sites, have become highly attractive holiday destinations with growing visitation. However, this story of tourism in protected and unspoiled natural areas has its downside as well, and we are among those who can already painfully attest to the truth of this fact by our own experience.
Our regional destination has two national parks within striking distance, and tourism, although offering well-known advantages, is now posing a growing threat to the protected ecosystems.
Namely, in addition to an increase in the number of visitors, many tourists nowadays wish to use parks in new ways 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 of the fact that due to the amount of tourism 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, etc.) and depleted natural resources necessary to sustain life.
Our 2Parks are also faced with imminent danger for both natural and cultural heritage!
Among other things, Plitvice Lakes are highly threatened by serious overcrowding, especially in the peak season, and Una, among other things, is faced with 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 many wonder what's all the fuss about mass tourism, tourist hotspots around the world are forced to close to visitors. One of the latest was Thailand’s famous Maya Bay on Koh Phi Phi Leh island, initially closed to visitors from June to September 2018 in hope to give the fragile marine environment some time to recover (nearly 80% of the country’s coral reefs are destroyed by tourism!). Shocking photos of Maya Bay
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 recover from damage. Closed indefinitely
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.
Here are the 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 - water, air, and noise pollution, increased solid waste, littering, and 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 we will continue to lose important ecosystems and wildlife on which our survival depends.
National parks and other conservation areas, the last important sites for wildlife, cover only about 15,4 % of the Earth's terrestrial area and only 3.4% of the Earth's ocean area, not nearly enough to ensure the survival of species and ecological communities alone - and now even these areas are facing multiple threats. ("Protected Planet Report 2016")
It is our intention to be among the first to manage the lands in and near national parks in ways that will 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."
It is as simple as that, as long as we use the level of thinking that creates problems, treats our planet and nature as disposable resources, and elevates self-interest and personal gain above the community wellbeing, we will remain trapped in the vicious circle of self-destruction.
Individuals, organizations or political parties that operate at a level of consciousness that has accumulated serious problems in societies around the world, equally threatening to people and nature, cannot provide solutions to major problems - they can only create new ones - and even that is an understatement. Namely, these problems include new/old conflicts, discords, rivalry, constant stirring of hostility and hate among people, continued support of unethical behavior, injustice, and thus unceasing destruction of nature, quality of life, and society as a whole.
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 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. Unfortunately, all those seeking serenity at national 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 POLLUTION" - rising numbers of tourists with cars may be the biggest threat to protected areas, causing serious air pollution, noise pollution, and natural disturbances. Cars and vans produce around 1/5 of the EU's total emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) - the major greenhouse gas!
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. Furthermore, often inadequate local waste management infrastructure only worsens one of the most urgent health and environmental problems today.
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 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, 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, 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 the care and concern for the environment and the host community.
And we are fighting our inner demons. 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 economic and socio-cultural impacts of mass tourism are rarely discussed and explained in local communities.
There are ways you can support local responsible entrepreneurs in tourism. Be informed, you will witness a surge of “carefully selected" words about nature and community coming from the very same people who have been unscrupulously exploiting nature and communities driven by self-interest and greed or pandering to special interest groups and lobbies.
Among them are some entrepreneurs in tourism whose greed you may unknowingly support. These characteristics can help you discern between:
Service to Community
- individuals are committed to promoting and helping others to achieve mutual goalswhile preserving a healthy natural environment;
- transcended egoism: thoughtfulness, modesty, admiration, courage, calmness, knowledge, wisdom;
- information and knowledge are shared freely; other people's ideas are respected and valued;
- needs of others for personal growth are recognized and valued (no aspirations to dominate and control others);
- 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
- the induvidual is committed to pursuing activities that support he'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: arrogantness, deviousness, enviousness, egotism, impertinence, manipulativeness, mindlessness;
- information is sold for recognition and profit; other people's ideas are often stolen and used for self-promotion and material gain;
- the growth and development of others is not supported and respected (it is easier to rule ignorance, manipulate the illiterate or 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 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. 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 – and their origin and 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 - 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.
Environmental education is of increasing importance in the world today, especially in communities near protected areas. Educational institutions are vital and must be involved so that students from a young age become knowledgeable towards the environment and rampant environmental problems we face locally and across the globe.
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 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 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 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 and we can all do our bit 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. Get back to your roots; choose traditional or indigenous seeds that grow naturally in your country.
- Reduce or stop using poisonous herbicides and pesticide - they are hazardous pollutants that affect people and 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!!
Earth Overshoot Day 2018 landed on August 1, 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 that time the Overshoot Day has been coming earlier year by year and now we can witness some of the many disastrous impacts that overexploitation of natural resources and pollution have on human health and natural environment.
Change is here. Although we can still have a wide-ranging discussions of all possible causes, there is no doubt that it’s happening and that will increasingly influence fulfillment of some basic human needs and rights - like clean, accessible, and affordable fresh water and healthy food. We are not helpless, but can become if we keep our heads in the sand in hopes that trouble will pass us by.
Warnings, such as the one published by the European Parliament in September 2018, based on the latest report of the European Environment Agency, will become more frequent around the world: Infographic: How climate change is affecting Europe
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 the nature because it causes serious pollution and poses a great danger to both humans and the natural environment. It is possible: New Europe-wide strategy on plastics
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. Private swimming pools greatly increase fresh water consumption and pose a great threat to local people and sensitive karst environment!!!
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, and gastronomy in local restaurants with fresh, seasonal foods - support rural areas' survival and development.
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, and a slower but stable green growth that uses tourism revenues for long-term sustainability, shows more sensitivity for local social and economic needs, and puts emphasis on active and involved local residents.
Tourists play an extremely important role in that system - travel doesn’t have to be environmentally destructive!
Moreover, it is our human obligation as tourists 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.
Circular - Linear - Circular
The new EU Circular Economy Package (CEP) fits nicely into our story about eco and responsible - the important targets for waste recycling and reduction of landfilling became legally binding from July 4 2018 for all Member States.
We have finally learned (have we?) that progress has a price that we can’t pay. Depleted natural resources and climate change made us rethink our definition of progress. Ironically, we’re now moving back towards an economic model that evolved long, long ago.
When it comes to bringing sustainable into our everyday lives, even our (great-) grandparents (especially those in rural communities) could teach us a thing or two about going green and circular:
- they grew their own food or bought ingredients from local farmers,
- they ate seasonally and pickled their locally grown food to preserve fresh produce over the winter,
- they collected and used rainwater to alleviate stressed water systems and protect limited resources,
- they shared tools and farming equipment with the community,
- they recycled - everything had a secondary use and nothing of value was thrown away,
- they relied on traditional modes of transportation: they walked, rode their bikes, or used public transportation,
- they used composted cow manure as fertilizer,
- they bought less: things were patched or mended, gifts were often homemade,
- they made their own cleaning products using vinegar, baking soda, lemon, castile soap, essential oils, etc.
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, either as hosts or tourists, we can make a difference, we can discard the current paradigm of linear model and utter destruction: deplete - use - pollute, and embrace the responsible, circular and sharing models: reduce (the waste created), reuse (extend the use), recycle (convert into reusable), maximize the value of resources while they are in use, and collaborate to create joint value.
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)
We now cordially invite you to come and explore our 2Parks, enjoy our local produce, and participate in various interesting activities across our local communities - in a way that is beneficial both to you and to a host community.
Discover our local and rural, embrace ecotourism that conserves the natural environment and sustains the well-being of local people!
Welcome to GWT2P destination!