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Cross-border Julian Alps Biosphere Reserve declared

The Cross-border Biosphere Reserve of the Julian Alps was declared today at the 36th meeting of the International Coordinating Council of UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme in Agadir, Morocco. This brings together two existing Biosphere Reserves – the Julian Alps Biosphere Reserve on the Slovenian side and the Italian Julian Alps Biosphere Reserve.

This will further strengthen the long-standing cooperation between the two parks, managers of the two existing biosphere reserves, which transcends national borders.

UNESCO's Man and Biosphere programme (MAB) includes 738 biosphere reserves across the world, but only 23 are cross-border reserves. Through this programme, UNESCO has committed to 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which encourage biosphere reserves to conserve nature, develop green economies and sustain local communities, and support their development, so that the reserves are fundamentally committed to integrating and engaging different stakeholders to achieve the same goals. The Julian Alps have already received this important recognition on both sides of the border (Slovenian Alps in 2003 and Italian Alps in 2019). The declaration of a transboundary biosphere reserve transcending national administrative boundaries allows for the merger of the two existing biosphere reserves, which together cover an area of almost 277,000 hectares.

Preparations began a year and a half ago

Preparations for the application for this transboundary biosphere reserve began with a kick-off meeting in Mojstrana in December 2022. The managers of the Triglav National Park in Slovenia and the Julian Prealps Nature Park in Italy have outlined an extensive candidacy. The Slovenian Ministry of Natural Resources and Spatial Planning, in cooperation with the Slovenian National Commission for UNESCO and in agreement with the Italian National Technical Committee of the Programme, submitted it to the UNESCO MAB Secretariat last autumn.

In reaching its decision, the UNESCO MAB Advisory Board highlighted the natural and cultural features of the cross-border biosphere area and the work done to engage different stakeholders on both sides of the border to cooperate and support the candidacy. The declaration aims to encourage the authorities of the two countries/regions to pursue joint actions for the future expansion of the transboundary biosphere area, stemming from the current trilateral projects between Italy, Slovenia and Austria on ecological connectivity and a common strategy for sustainable tourism, with a view to including the Dobratsch Nature Park in Austria as part of the expanded cross-border biosphere reserve.