Author: Manca Čujež
On May 26th, 2018, the Jezersko Municipality became part of the international network of Mountaineering Villages, an event which coincided with the celebrations of the Alpine Convention Day. // Im Rahmen des Tages der Alpenkonvention am 26. Mai 2018 trat die Gemeinde Jezersko feierlich dem internationalen Netzwerk der Bergsteigerdörfer bei.
On May 26th, 2018, the Jezersko Municipality became part of the international network of Mountaineering Villages, an event which coincided with the celebrations of the Alpine Convention Day. Together with the Alpine Association of Slovenia, the town has undertaken to promote sustainable tourism based on outdoor activities in the mountains without excessive infrastructure, to act in an environmentally responsible manner, and to respect the cultural and natural heritage.
Mountaineering Villages (Bergsteigerdörfer) is an international network of towns that strive to develop their tourism based on the tradition of mountaineering, without excessive infrastructure, and through a sustainable approach. The Mountaineering Villages thereby fulfill all the aims of the Alpine Convention, which is committed to sustainable development throughout the Alpine region. The project is a joint effort of the alpine associations of Austria (ÖAV), Germany (DAV), South Tyrol (AVS), Italy (CAI), and Slovenia (PZS). In Slovenia, the Alpine Association of Slovenia is the coordinator of the project, and they are helped by the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, which is in charge of the implementation of the Alpine Convention, and the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology. Twenty-five villages in Austria, Bavaria, South Tyrol, Italy, and Slovenia are currently included. The first Slovenian village to be part of the project is Jezersko and three more locations will be joining the project later this year: Kreuth in Germany, Lungiarü in South Tyrol, and the Italian village of Val di Zoldo.
Jezersko becomes the first Slovenian town to be part of Mountaineering Villages (photo by Primož Šenk)
All the locations that are part of this network are small peaceful places surrounded by mountains. They have a rich mountaineering and cultural tradition, are environmentally responsible, and allow for numerous activities without excessive infrastructure. Their visitors can learn about the local history and cultural heritage and enjoy their hospitality and local cuisine, all of which makes this project a very positive influence on the development of the local economy which provides a strong incentive for the younger generations to plan a future in their home villages. Jezersko provides a multitude of activities: numerous hiking trails of all difficulties, summer and winter climbing routes, magical ski tours which also include steep and technical descents, kilometers and kilometers of cross-country skiing and mountain bike trails, ice-skating, snowshoeing, etc.
“We are proud of our ancestors who managed to keep Jezersko relatively pristine and it is our duty to maintain its unspoiled nature for the coming generations, despite the difficult times that we are living in. In the past, no major tourism infrastructure projects had been carried out here, which we used to consider a disadvantage. Today, however, we realize that without large hotels and similar infrastructure, Jezersko has remained a pristine place which allows for a high-quality lifestyle, something that fills us with great pride. Our development strategy for Jezersko is committed to sustainable development of our hometown and its tourism. The protocols of the Alpine Convention and its vision regarding the development of mountain villages are in line with our development strategy and the Mountaineering Villages project makes it easier for us to reach visitors who value unspoiled nature and respect this beautiful Alpine world,” said the Mayor of the Jezersko Municipality Jurij Rebolj.
Jurij Rebolj, Liliana Dagostin, Jože Rovan, Markus Reiterer, Irena Majcen, Rudi Erlach, Eva Štravs Podlogar, Miro Eržen and Katharina Conradin in Jezersko (photo by Manca Čujež)
Jezersko, which lies at the foot of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps and the Karawanks, is one of a hundred landscape areas defined by the Spatial Development Strategy of Slovenia as having recognizable features which are important at the national level. The mountains above the valley form an impressive cirque composed of the summits of Makekova kočna and Ravenska kočna, while further west, there are two more valleys which are more sparsely populated: Komatevra and Podstoržič. The village is quite long, reaching all the way from the Kokra River in the south to the Jezerski vrh border crossing with Austria in the north. Tourism in Jezersko has always been based on the incredible mountains which give the village its identity. Rich geological history, impressive mountain walls, vast forests, valleys sculpted by glaciers, remarkable biodiversity, old farms, and a rich heritage of mountain hiking and climbing: all this and more awaits you in Jezersko. So take your time and enjoy the rich heritage of stories and experiences found here: both in the mountains and in the valleys nestled among them.
Tourism is the number one industry in the Alps and it has grown considerably in the recent years, which also has its downsides, unfortunately. The Alpine Convention, an international treaty signed by eight Alpine countries, strives to reduce these negative impacts. “The Mountaineering Villages project is one of the methods of implementing the protocols of the Alpine Convention and it includes local communities that have decided to pursue sustainable tourism. With this project, the Alpine Association of Slovenia aims to support sustainable tourism in smaller mountain towns with a strong tradition of mountaineering and a vision for the future that is in line with the goals of this project. Our goal is also to raise awareness of the importance of mountain sports activities, along with mountain trails and mountain huts, for all such developments. By taking part in this project, we hope that Slovenia will benefit from positive experiences and good practices of other Alpine countries that are included in the network of Mountaineering Villages,” concluded Miro Eržen, Vice President of the Alpine Association of Slovenia, which is the coordinator of the Mountaineering Villages project in Slovenia.
The event in Jezersko was attended by Liliana Dagostin, the coordinator of the Mountaineering Villages project at the Alpine Association of Austria, Irena Majcen, the Slovenian Minister of the Environment and Spatial Planning, Eva Štravs Podlogar, the State Secretary at the Slovenian Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, Jože Rovan, the President of the Alpine Association of Slovenia, Rudi Erlacher, the Vice-President of the Alpine Association of Germany, Katharina Conradin, the President of Cipra International, and Markus Reiterer, the Secretary-General of the Alpine Convention, who had this to say: “I would like to sincerely congratulate Jezersko as the first Slovenian Bergsteigerdoerf and to the Alpine Association of Slovenia for their work as coordinators of the project in Slovenia. Thank you also to the Austrian Alpine Association for launching and coordinating the Bergsteigerdoerf activities all these years. I see the Bergsteigerdoerf project as an implementation project of the Alpine Convention and am very happy that we formalized this cooperation also in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding a few years back. I believe Jezersko, their people, traditions and the beautiful location truly represent the Alpine spirit, motivation and engagement! I am also very happy that the inauguration is taking place as part of the Slovenian Alpine Convention Days and in such close cooperation with many alpine stakeholders – such as Cipra International and Alliance in the Alps.”
Slovenian summary: Občina Jezersko je 26. maja 2018 v okviru Dneva Alpske konvencije slovesno vstopila v mednarodno mrežo Gorniške vasi in se tako skupaj s Planinsko zvezo Slovenije zavezala trajnostnemu turizmu, osnova katerega je gibanje v gorskem svetu na osnovi lastnih moči in brez velike tehnične infrastrukture, z odgovornim odnosom do narave in spoštovanjem kulturne in naravne dediščine kraja.