European Wilderness Society

Protecting natural heritage with smart tourism management

Places with a UNESCO World Heritage label attract many tourists. In some places even too many tourist, which negatively impacts the site. One of the examples is the famous Belgian city of Bruges, a UNESCO World Heritage since 2000. Recently, the city administration decided for measures to limit the number of tourists. Also, the major wants to prevent turning the city into a ‘Disneyland’. Many UNESCO World Heritage sites deal with comparable challenges.

Natural World Heritage Beech Forests

The UNESCO Natural World Heritage site ‘Ancient and Primeval Forests of the Carpathians and other Regions of Europe’ is the current most complex site with over 75 component parts. Since last April, the European Wilderness Society started a big international project together with a great partnership, focusing on these unique beech forests. In the project, named BEECH POWER, one of the focus topics is sustainable tourism management.

Many component parts are facing the challenge how to handle the increased tourism pressure, now that their forest is officially World Heritage. Proper information signs, paths, and even a waste management system are important tools to help local authorities to protect the valuable core zones.

World Heritage Beech Forest Grumsin

During the kick-off meeting of the BEECH POWER project, a field trip to the forest of Grumsin took place. The forest is under the management of Angermünde, a partner of the project. Therefore, the major of Angermünde showed how current tourism information is provided, and trails are maintained. Also, he pointed out some of the challenges, now that the forest has the label of World Heritage. Over the next years, the BEECH POWER project will identify, test and demonstrate best practice examples to optimise sustainable tourism management and the protection of World Heritage sites.

Curious to learn more about the BEECH POWER project? Visit the website!

Please also read this: European Beech Forest Network

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