Canyoning in NP Sutjeska as sustainable tourism product

The key representatives of the local community on Tjentište and representatives of the National Park Sutjeska have held during the week the second meeting of the Collaborative Council within the WWF’s project “Protected areas for nature and people”, organized by WWF Adria and the Park. The focus of the meeting was the compliance of permanent members who should represent different sectors and who will be actively involved in future activities with the aim of working together on the development of sustainable tourism in the NP "Sutjeska".

In the same period, the Rangers of the NP "Sutjeska" had the opportunity to get acquainted with the latest research on the richness of biodiversity of Sutjeska.

Đorđije Milanović, expert for flora and vegetation from Arbor Magna, held a workshop during which was presented the information gathered through the study of flora, fauna and fungi of the main flow in the NP "Sutjeska", as well as the wildlife of the mountain lakes, their condition and prospects.

Milanović states: "Given that the coastal wildlife is very poorly researched, both in the NP "Sutjeska" and throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, under the framework of the project the researches were carried out, and the collected information is now presented to the Rangers. The aim of the workshop is to present to the attendants a set of key information on biodiversity of Sutjeska, which they should share with the tourists to make them acquainted with the nature and to care jointly of its protection and sustainability."

In late June 2016 expedition consisting of the guide of the Canyoning Association of Slovenia, and representatives of the local rescue team, experts in flora and vegetation and representative of WWF, examined the possibility of converting the canyon Hrčavka in sustainable tourism product - canyoning on Hrčavka.

According to the observations of experts for canyoning Sam Leštan: "Canyon Hrčavka allows the visitor to be lowered into the rocky area of the river, to leap over the waterfalls and in them, and to walk through the beautiful forests of the NP "Sutjeska". This type of activity may sound like a big challenge, but if the parts of the canyon foreseen for canyoning are carefully selected and adequately adapted for tourism, this canyon can easily become a "tourist-friendly" experience. Well-trained and experienced guides have to be present, so that tourists would be safe and enjoy fully in nature."

As a next step after researching the opportunities for the development of canyoning the training for canyoning guides is planned. Therefore, in parallel with a series of meetings and inclusion of the local population, as well as getting acquainted with the importance of biodiversity of the NP "Sutjeska", the more active members of the society and the Rangers of the NP "Sutjeska" in the period from 5 to 18 October 2016 have the opportunity to attend training for canyoning guides on the river Hrčavci , held by guides from the Slovenian Association of Canyoning.

Through further cooperation of the NP "Sutjeska", WWF, the Local Rescue Team, the Slovenian Association of Canyoning, the local community and later travel agencies, the next steps for the development of sustainable tourism product Canyoning on Hrčavka will be carried out. Should the activities be carried out as planned, the first visitors of the National Park will have the opportunity to experience the adventure of Canyoning on Hrčavka already in July 2017.

As the manager of the project "Protected areas for nature and people," Leon Kebe says: "This project is aimed to attain that sustainable use of natural resources in the region of the Dinaric Arc becomes the basis of socio-economic development. In B&H, the project activities are focused on the protected areas NP Sutjeska and NP Una. In order to achieve this, the World Wildlife Fund (international organization for the protection of nature) WWF together with its partners will seek to achieve the following objectives: 1. To present examples of how protected areas can generate social and economic benefits, in cooperation with the local community; 2. The Management of the protected areas will improve cooperation with the local community throughout the region and 3. the WWF and partners will strengthen the cooperation with decision-makers and those who influence them at national level in order to preserve protected areas. "

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Nela Slezak, WWF Adria