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PROJECT
"VIRTUAL ECO-HIKING THROUGHOUT PROTECTED AREAS AND OTHER NATURAL VALUES OF THE DUBROVNIK REGION"
PROJECT SUMMARY
Dubrovnik region is famous for its traditional architecture, rich and well known cultural and historical heritage, but also for its natural values that must be evaluated appropriately. Plenty of significant and valuable protected areas align this region with just few others in Croatia. According to Nature Protection Act (NN 70/05) natural value are elements or areas of nature that deserves special protection because of their biological conservation and landscape diversity or due to scientific, cultural, aesthetic, educational, economical, tourist or some other common interest. 50% of the total area of Dubrovnik is protected under different protection categories; one special forest reserve ( Lokrum Island), one important landscape (Rijeka Dubrovačka), two geomorphologic natural monuments (Gromača and Močiljska caves), three horticultural monuments (Arboretum Trsteno, individual tree – two planes in Trsteno) and five forest parks (Velika nad Mala Petka, Gornje and Donje Čelo on Koločep Island, Osmoliš and coastal area Trsteno-Brsečine). There are also many natural values in the city with interesting cultural and historical background; parks Gradac and Gučetić, speleological objects as Karla cave in Gruž, Betina cave on Ploče, Blue cave on Gorica Sv. Vlaha, Viline grotto in Rijeka Dubrovačka and others.

It’s planned to prepare the text with all essential information and guide maps with description of virtual eco-hiking throughout protected and other interesting areas of nature in Dubrovnik. All data will be presented in Croatian and English on our web page www.ciopa.hr. Virtual eco-hiking will primarily enclose biological and ecological facts that are applicable in tourism. Accordingly, we would like to inspire awareness of conservation purpose and maintaining protected areas and other natural values. Finally, that can only enhance touristic magnitude of Dubrovnik as the city with ecological conscience.

AIMS OF THE PROJECT
Common goals of this project is to emphasize the importance of quality environmental protection and effects of forming ecologically aware, conscientious and socially responsible community that would conserve these natural interests as unique natural value of the city area. Increasing the consciousness level in citizens of Dubrovnik, and broader, on conservation purpose and wise exploitation of protected areas should be the long-term assignment of all human and material resources of the local government. Accordingly, popularization of the particular activities as promotion of the conservation of nature and active engagement of the local government and non-governmental organizations indicate high consciousness level of developing public opinion.

PURPOSE AND APPLIANCE OF THE PROJECT
Main purpose of this project is educational and informative with potential tourist meaning. Conserved natural areas have medical-recreative and aesthetic-decorative role so returning to nature and authentic ecological values is one of the leading contemporary touristic trends. Making the web page with basic data on natural and aesthetic values of the protected areas in Dubrovnik region has multiple intentions; to inspire awareness of improving conservation purpose and maintaining protected areas, encouragement and development in eco-tourism, enhanced access to information associated with nature protection. Ultimately, our intention is to increase consciousness level of the citizens, as Dubrovnik is the most important touristic lure in Croatia and it’s essential to take care of its natural advantages.

PRESENT INFORMATIONS
During nowadays increasing urbanization, fast-moving life rhythm and enhanced traffic people endeavor to spend more time in preserved natural environments. Furthermore, recent trends in tourism request turning to nature and authentic ecological values due to medical-recreative function of the conserved natural areas. Frequent visits and staying in those areas are the best way to get rid off cumulated stress, but also the inspiration to devote ourselves to conservation of all natural values in Dubrovnik, not only from ecological aspect, but also biological, esthetical and finally, touristic.

IMPORTANCE OF PROJECT ACHIEVEMENTS
This project was figured out to educate all generations of the citizens of Dubrovnik, as well as tourists and guests of the City. Entire material and data collected during realization of this project will be presented on our web page (www.ciopa.hr) and could be used in order to promote Dubrovnik and to improve its facilities.


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