Plitvice Lakes National Park is working on a "zero waste" strategy. What does this mean in practice?

Plitvice Lakes National Park, the very word and symbol is at first associated with green and sustainable development. Although until a few years ago it was just the opposite, things have ...

Plitvice Lakes National Park, the very word and symbol is at first associated with green and sustainable development. Although the opposite was true until a few years ago, things have started to change. Some of the significant problems have been solved, such as congestion of visitors to the case of a septic tank, and today the situation is much better than several years ago.

But let's go in order… the story for this article attracted me to the news that the Plitvice Lakes National Park uses electricity from renewable sources.

However, they have been using it for the last two years, and this week, for the second year in a row, they received a certificate from the holder of the ZelEn certificate, which confirms that 6.351 MWh of electricity from renewable sources was delivered.

In this way, the Plitvice Lakes National Park procures electricity from certified hydropower plants, with special attention paid to evidence of the harmlessness of the power plant's impact on the environment and the disposal of hazardous waste, according to the Plitvice Lakes National Park.

By the way, this is green energy obtained exclusively from renewable sources, which is delivered by HEP through the ZelEn certificate. Also, the buyer of ZelEn acquires the right to use the protected stamp ZelEn - Friend of nature for promotional and marketing purposes, which is already an imperative today, then a big trend. Otherwise, green electricity, at least according to HEP, is more expensive, ie an additional 20 euro cents or about 1,5 kuna / MWh. Of course, there are, and will be more and more, various green sustainable certificates or certificates on the market that a company cares about the environment by using energy from renewable sources or encourages sustainable development. Green is the new "black" in today's modern business, and the world of consumers about sustainable development is getting bigger and bigger. And that is exactly the key to transforming our business from "black" to "green" as much as possible.

USE OF LOWER ENERGY CONSUMABLING LIGHT AND FAVORABLE FOR THE FAUNA

In 2018, Plitvice Lakes National Park introduced new lighting that uses LED technology that consumes up to 50% less electricity and is more favorable for wildlife because the light is not scattered in all directions but is directed only to the narrower area around the trail. The lighting is also programmed to work at 40% intensity for most of the night when there is no need for intense light.

"It is extremely important to us that the flora and fauna feel the presence of man and his technologies as little as possible, so this project was of great importance." states from Plitvice Lakes.

Photo: Pixabay.com

SUSTAINABLE DISPOSAL OF FOOD RESIDUES IN HOTEL JEZERO

Food waste is a big challenge today. Due to its huge amount, but also the use of soil, water and energy for the purpose of producing excessive amounts of food, our footprint on the planet is extremely large, and analyzes indicate that as much as 70% of biodiversity is lost by deforestation to agricultural land.

Unfortunately, Croatia does not lag behind global data. We throw away about 400.000 tonnes of food a year, contributing to European figures of around a staggering 90 million tonnes, which is about 20 per cent of total food production. i.e. 173 kilograms per capita. The value of the food thrown away is 143 billion euros. Also, natural resources are consumed for food production, distribution and storage and further increased ecological footprint. That is why the World Conservation Organization (WWF) has recognized food waste as one of the most important programs of its work.

It is for this reason that together with the Jezero Hotel of the Plitvice Lakes National Park, it has joined forces in a food waste reduction project.

"As a national park under UNESCO protection, the importance of the impact on nature conservation and raising awareness of waste reduction is an important determinant of action for us. As we manage a number of catering and accommodation facilities, we are faced with the great challenge of reducing our environmental impact. Through the numerous activities and projects we have started, we strive for a "zero waste" strategy”States from the Plitvice Lakes National Park.

With the introduction of biodegradable packaging in 2015, the process of removing plastic from the business began, and all generated waste in the hotel is separated, while bio waste is used for the production of bio fuel and animal feed.

Photo: NP PJ

Promotional materials are printed on eco paper, food is procured through green procurement and cooperation with WWF. “With proper internal communication, communication with guests in our hotels through informative and educational messages and excellent cooperation with WWF on this commendable project, we believe in excellent results and we are proud that our largest hotel Jezero was among the first hotels in Croatia with this project. ”conclude from the NP of Plitvice Lakes.

Plitvice Lakes National Park finally has a clear Management Plan, visitor counters, online ticket purchase, electric vehicles as well as electric boats are used, products from local family farms are encouraged and used, and they received the green light from UNESCO, which has just monitored all protection processes and even threatened to remove Plitvice Lakes from the UNESCO list. What is a fact, the situation today is much different than 5 or more years ago.

"The management plan sets basic goals in achieving the vision of the National Park, according to which a good way of managing the protected area and cooperation with the local community are the foundation of sustainable development. In achieving these goals, special attention should be paid to preserving the unique universal value of the Park, preserving the tradition and cultural identity of the area, sustainable development of the local community and building a partnership in which the local community recognizes the Park as part of its identity.”States Tomislav Kovačević, director of the Plitvice Lakes National Park.

You can download the management plan of the Plitvice Lakes National Park until 2028 here

Sustainable tourism as an imperative

Sustainable tourism is defined by the UNWTO as tourism that fully takes into account current and future economic, social and environmental effects, takes care of the needs of visitors, sectors, environment and destination

Therefore sustainable tourism should make optimal use of environmental resources which are a key element of tourism development, retaining essential ecological processes and helping to protect natural heritage and biodiversity. Respect socio-cultural authenticity destinations, to preserve their built and living cultural heritage and traditional values, and to contribute to intercultural understanding and tolerance, and to ensure that economic activities sustainable and long-term.

WWF: Mass tourism is not sustainable for nature

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has been the leading voice for nature for more than half a century, and they also operate in Croatia.

Crowds of tourists coming to the Adriatic beaches, islands, towns and cities are the cause of enormous pressure on both infrastructure and natural resources. In response, WWF points out our protected areas are looking for new, commercially viable alternatives in the form of ecotourism.

Mass tourism is not inclined to care about nature - and the consequences are disastrous. Tourism is one of the main causes of ecological collapse in the region. Some once untouched places can no longer be rebuilt today. Unsustainable tourism activities also have a negative impact on protected areas. We also know the negative effect of Instagram destinations, where they suddenly become so popular that they ruin an entire destination that simply cannot accommodate so many tourists.

Tourism, if well managed, can support nature conservation while contributing to sustainable development and providing opportunities for income and a better quality of life for local people, the WWF said, adding that caring for natural heritage through protected areas is key to sustainable development and foundation. is socio-economic well-being. A more efficient and ecologically oriented form of tourism or ecotourism.

In response to these key issues in Croatia, WWF focused on four components in its work on tourism: the project should have a positive impact on the environment and contribute to nature protection and conservation, commercial sustainability, local community development and respect for culture. Local circumstances, traditions and values, as well as human rights and gender, must be respected. Read more about the work of WWF HERE

Today, more than ever, the focus is on sustainable development and ecology, and destinations that go that route will certainly benefit.

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