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Conclusions of the Collaborative Council meetings – restoration, education and tourism

About 50 participants of the Collaborative Council held in June in Vrlika and Sinj presented a series of proposals for possible restoration, educational and tourist activities that could be implemented within the Dinara back to LIFE project, but also in parallel with it. There are many wells, ponds and watering places waiting to be cleaned, collapsed dry stone walls and roads that need to be rebuilt, hiking trails that can be enriched with additional content, great potential of beekeeping in this area – from food and trails to treatment, tourist educational trails about lawns, other plants and birds in this area, as well as many other content that this area hides.

Wells and dry stone walls near Vrlika are awaiting reconstruction

Stakeholders pointed out the need to clean the lawn of juniper (Juniperus oxycedrus) in Ježevičko suhopolje and Kijevsko suhopolje, while in Koljani there are several goat trails that were once be used by machines, but they collapsed and need restoration. At Koljani there are also dry stone walls waiting to be rebuilt, while at Budiše in Garjak there are goat roads that need to be cleaned. The walls also need to be repaired in the Kijevo area near the Ćulum Cave.

In the area of ​​Vrlika and Kijevo, there are four interesting wells / ponds, of which Krivodol near Ćulum’s Cave is on the state land and should be restored. There are also Čatrnja, Romića lokva – which was once the largest, and Mašeluša.

The potential of beekeeping

Beekeepers from the Vrlika area who are hobby beekeepers and are not dedicated to this work pose a problem to the beekeepers’ association because such a hobby approach increases the risk of disease occurrence and spread, as pointed out at the training workshop at the Cooperation Council in Vrlika. Beekeepers from the area of ​​Vrlika and Kijevo participated, including the Beekeeping Society of Dinara Vrlika, which has 43 members and 2,200 hives. The beekeepers’ association has the biggest problem in honey production, while there are no difficulties with distribution.

Emphasis was placed on the project of mating queens and the construction of a station for mating queens in the naturally isolated site of Bračev dolac, which existed as a project 40 years ago. The need for product diversification was also emphasized – pollen, honey with additives, packaging and boxes, syrups and liqueurs, as well as an example of an innovative method of treatment in Skradin as well as in Slovenia – inhalation chambers with air from the hives. A proposal was made to connect local beekeepers with tourist guides, so that tourists could visit producers, for which it would be necessary to educate the tourism sector about bee products, producers and sales locations. On the Red Beams area (Crvene grede), there is a need for restoration that would be beneficial to beekeepers because juniper has taken over most of the lawn and prevents the development of sage, which reduces grazing for bees.

Beekeepers point out the great pressure on the existing water sources in the area, especially in the Crvene grede area. According to them, the area has exceptional potential due to indigenous medicinal plants such as white sage, honeysuckle and flour. As an idea for the further development of local beekeeping, they point out the honey road following the example of Slovenian colleagues. Various agricultural potentials of this area were also presented, such as the exploitation of the medicinal plant „štir“ and mushroom picking.

Ilirska gradina and Čubrice as possible tourist attractions

A major problem of the project area is the lack of capacity of tourist and mountaineering guides in the Dinara area, as pointed out at the workshop on tourism in Vrlika. However, the area has a huge tourist potential – the peak zone of the Dinara, Troglav and Kamešnica mountains is an exceptional mountaineering and tourist potential as the highest mountain range in Croatia and the preserved nature of karst and mountain meadows. For these needs, there are currently hiking trails and mountain houses and shelters. The lower zone of these mountains also abounds in possibilities – the abandoned village of Čubrice east of Ježević hides the remains of abandoned houses. Even further in the past, an Illyrian hillfort hid on Kosorska Glavica above the Dubin spring. An interesting tourist location is the isolated Bračev Dolac, which is currently reached by a bad road.

Sinj aqua

The wells on Vrdovo have been renovated, but in the Sinj area there are a number of locations where there is a possibility to retain water. One of them is the Goveđa kosa well above Baćev dolac, which is in the recent plan of the GSS, mountaineers and firefighters for cleaning and landscaping. The long-known Marin well (Marin bunar) above Crvene grede, to which the hiking trail leads, also needs to be cleaned, as well as Marun well, a pond in Vučipolje used by local cattle breeders. There are wells, of course, elsewhere, and one of them is Čatrnja on Kamešnica between Gljevo and Glavaš, next to which also passes an attractive circular hiking trail. From the trails and dry stone walls, from Rakanovac in Vučipolje to Vrdovo, there are two goat trails that need to be cleaned, and in cooperation with mountaineers they could be cleaned and marked. Dry stone wall towards the mountain house st. Jakov has been recognized as a potential for reconstruction, while in Domjanovići there are dry stone walls along the goat paths that have collapsed and need to be restored to their original condition.

The people of Sinj want to know more

The workshop on educational potentials recognized the need to educate the general population about the natural values ​​of the local area because apart from mountaineering schools there are not many opportunities for the local population to get acquainted with the values ​​of nature and thus motivate and make them more committed to its preservation.

The possibility of implementing educational content among the adult population from this area was especially emphasized, especially education on medicinal herbs and their use, and on the use of plants in cosmetics. The need for education to focus on the local environment has been recognized, ie to present to the public what is important or what is protected in the local area. The importance of educating children of the kindergarten age, as the most desirable age for the adoption of awareness of nature conservation, was recognized. As an example of good practice, a kindergarten in the forest is mentioned, ie a program for kindergartens in which children are either taken out into nature or content found in nature, such as plants, fruits, etc., is brought and presented to them.

In the field of livestock, beekeeping and rural development, the participants in the discussion agree that local producers do not use the full potential, and that they are not aware of the interest that exists in the local area and products. It was therefore suggested that through trainings local producers be presented with the overall content that motivates people to come, data on the number of these visitors, and examples of good practice in how in other family farms producers place their products to visitors. On the other hand, even visitors do not have the clearest idea of ​​the offer that exists, because they have nowhere to find information. It was also assumed that it would be useful for local producers to organize education on what the Dinara Nature Park brings for them.

School of nature

The educational grassland trail, which would teach about project species of grasslands and birds, as well as other flora and fauna of the Dinara, was the main topic of discussion of the workshop on tourism at the Collaborative Council. As the greatest potential, a path “emerged” that would go through Vrdovo, from the east side, below Kodžoman’s umac from the end of the asphalt road to Vrdovo to the mountain house of St. Jakov in the northwest of Vrdovo and then back, but with another variant over Vrdovo to visit several points, therefore – a circular path. The trail is suitable for hikers because it is easy since there are no climbs, and the habitat is of project types, and controlled ignition was also carried out in the area. An addition to this trail would be the trail Vučipolje – St. Jakov mountian house, which is more of a trail for hikers because it is an ascent with a height difference of 600 meters. Another possibility is a trail that would include Donja Korita and Gornja Korita on Kamešnica. The third proposal of the trail is the west of the Dinara, from Marko’s grave to Brezovac, interesting as a grassland habitat. It is necessary to determine the target group for this content in advance so that the trail would not be without visitors. Travel agencies will express their interest in the trail, while tourist and mountain guides will express their interest in coming to Biom’s educational workshop.

Check out the map including all the above mentioned sites below:

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The first Collaborative Councils held – broad support for the Dinara back to LIFE project

The first meetings of the Cooperation Council were held in Vrlika and Sinj last week, at which representatives of cattle breeders, hunters, beekeepers, tourist workers, representatives of local self-government and mountaineering associations received basic information about the Dinara back to LIFE project and enriched it with ideas. As part of the meetings, a thematic exhibition ‘Return to nature – Dinara back to LIFE’ was held, which featured 15 photographs and thoughts of the population living near the area about what Dinara means to them.

Zdravko Budimir

At the first meeting, on June 14, with hospitable hosts from the restaurant Ero in Vrlika, there were about 20 participants, cattle breeders from the wider area of ​​Ježević, representatives of the tourist boards from Knin and Vrlika, beekeepers from the Vrlika area, representatives of mountaineering associations and small tourist renters.

30,000 euros for livestock and equipment are waiting for cattle breeders

The coordinator of the implementation of the Dinara back to LIFE project, Zdravko Budimir, presented the project from its beginnings in 2017, when the writing of the project text, the elements of the project and its goals began. Expert associate for nature protection Ivana Selanec focused on project activities that could benefit stakeholders, such as habitat restoration, dry stone walls and lawns.

Cattle breeders and tourist board representative

By working in small groups at the Council, the guests presented their proposals, and a large group of cattle breeders, mostly from the Vrlika area, expressed interest in cleaning dry stone walls and renovating watering places and wells, as envisaged by the Dinara back to LIFE project. Cattle breeders stressed that today it is difficult to go high on the mountain because there is a lack of roads, so cattle breeders will choose the paths that they believe should be restored, and project partners will participate in the organization of restoration actions. The project envisages a cost of 30,000 euros to support and encourage the purchase of livestock and other equipment to be carried out in the coming months, and cattle breeders are particularly interested in the purchase of donkeys, but it is stated that it is difficult to procure one young monkey, let alone more.

An educational habitat trail is looking for its place

As part of the Dinara back to LIFE project, an educational trail for observing habitats, plants and birds will be established in the project area, which was discussed at the workshop on tourism at the meeting of the Cooperation Council, where the inclusion of “wildwatching” and “birdwatching” was discussed. BIOM will offer education to tourist guides related to the identification of birds, different habitat types, recognition of plant species, grassland habitats and the like. As the biggest obstacle, the representatives of the Tourist Boards of Knin and Vrlika stated the lack of capacity of tourist and mountaineering guides in the area of ​​Dinara. This educational trail will be equipped with QR codes through which hikers and mountaineers will receive additional information about grasslands that are protected by this project, about interesting plants that inhabit the area and about the birds that nest there – garden bunting, cuckoo and short-toed woodpecker. The restoration of their habitats is also the intended goal of the project. The trail will also be digitized and as such will be available online.

Planing of educational birdwatching trail

One of the workshop participants mentioned the abandoned village of Čubrice east of Ježević, where the remains of houses are still visible. The representative of HPD Zolj from Kiev also mentioned the location of the Illyrian hillfort on Kosorska Glavica above the Dubin spring. The problem of a bad road towards Bračev Dolac was also mentioned, which as a location is important for beekeepers and mountaineers, and could become an interesting tourist location. These unused tourist facilities have the potential to expand the tourist offer and interesting content for the tourist community to develop.

How does climate impact Dinara?

The meeting was also attended by a young German filmmaker Manuel Inicker who is shooting a documentary on the impact of climate change on nature in general, which he will present with a film that he will begin shooting on the Dinara from which he will descend to the source of the Krka and all the way to the seaside, documenting changes that occur due to climate disturbances.

At the training workshop, experienced beekeepers offered their help and knowledge to potential colleagues in developing their business. The need for a tourist tour that would include the locations of beekeepers and livestock, and an example of a good burst from Slovenia was mentioned where a specific segment of health tourism – inhalation rooms where the treatment of beeswax smoke is used to treat respiratory diseases. It was also suggested that hobby beekeepers should be encouraged to associate to avoid the problem of disease and uncontrolled bee grazing.

Winter controlled ignition for greater biodiversity

At the Collaborative Council at the Alkar Hotel in Sinj, about 30 participants began the conversation about the sensitive issue of fire and controlled ignition. Expert advisor for nature Ivan Budinski explained that winter controlled burning actually promotes biodiversity, and the forest is not endangered because it is humid and does not burn at this time of year, while summer fires are mostly unnatural, ie most often caused by human hands and leave immeasurably greater damage. It is exactly winter ignition that prevents the spreading of summer fires.

Ivan Budinski, nature preservation councelor

The representative of LU Hrvaca suggested the use of water from Peruča to extinguish wildfire and to break through the fire roads on the Dinara, which is a proposal that the local community should consider. When asked about pine afforestation, the representative of Hrvatske šume explained that it is afforested with this species because it is autochthonous, but added that the intensity of afforestation will be greatly reduced. The problem of the mined area northwest of Vučipolje was also mentioned.

Hunters and mountaineers are already working, Biom will help

At the workshop on restoration, mountaineers and hunters stated the need to restore the dry stone walls, which was envisaged by the project, emphasizing that the dry stone walls are being restored. Hikers and hunters described their trail maintenance activities so far, garbage cleaning, including pit cleaning, and well cleaning. Biom offered its help in these activities with manpower and tools, and an appeal was made that activists consult with Biom experts on the timing of cleaning the pits so as not to disturb the birds while they are nesting there. The problem of pollution of puddles with carcasses is mentioned, which will be solved by setting photo-traps, in which the project partners will also help.

Ivana Selanec

At the workshop on trainings, the incentive for the establishment of family farms was presented, about which trainings for those interested can be organized as part of the project. Since this area has recently been declared a nature park, increased arrivals of hikers and mountaineers are expected, and since family farm owners do not have information on the number of tourists coming, they will be informed about the numbers of people visiting the area and the interest of visitors will be determined. .

We will have trails – guides are required

The workshop on tourism was focused on the grassland watching trail and its potentials, as well as possible locations, and on education related to this new tourist content. Namely, as part of the Dinara back to LIFE project, educational workshops on grasslands, plants and birds will be organized for tourist and mountaineering guides, and the tourist community will communicate with those interested in participating in this training in the coming months. Possible locations for this trail are listed. One possibility is the trail across Vrdove plain from its eastern to western edge, which is a habitat for project species and this area is easily accessible by vehicles, and, given that it is a plateau, the trail would be minimally demanding in terms of fitness. Another possibility is the existing hiking trail from Vučipolje to the mountain house of St. Jakov, and another one is the area between the Gornja Korita and Donja Korita areas on Kamešnica. As part of the project, one trail will be formed, and this experience will lay the foundations for tourist boards to set up similar trails in other locations.

The meeting of the Council in the beautiful ambience of Hotel Alkar ended with a review of the exhibition ‘Return of Nature’ and informal socializing of those present who expressed satisfaction with the audience and support plans, in which they will participate, to which all others are invited.