Innovative Biotourism Actions in Ierapetra, Crete

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Nature & Environment
Innovative Biotourism Actions in Ierapetra, Crete

 

The Biopolitics International Organisation (B.I.O.) and the Environmental Department of the Municipality of Ierapetra (www.ierapetra.gov.gr) on the island of Crete are cooperating in a project themed “Natural environment and innovative action” for the promotion and protection of the unique natural heritage of the region. Funded by the Green Fund (a financial instrument of the Greek Ministry of Environment and Energy – http://www.prasinotameio.gr/index.php/el/), the project aims to develop and apply the concept of biotourism as an innovative approach for sustainable regional and rural management.

The implementation of the project is well underway and is expected to be completed by February 2019.

Ierapetra – a leading biotourism destination
Ierapetra is located in the southwestern part of the Prefecture of Lasithi. A region of outstanding natural beauty, it features exceptional environmental assets, as well as several NATURA 2000 protected areas, including, among others: the island of Chrysi (also known as Gaidouronisi), a land studded with cedar trees and golden beaches, and home to more than 120 species of migratory birds; the valley of Selakano, one of the most impressive pine forest habitats in the Mediterranean; and the wetlands of Lake Bramiana, considered among the most important rest stops for migratory birds in Southern Europe. The region also boasts striking gorges and caves with amazing geological formations, as well as magnificent forests and imposing mountain ranges.

Severe environmental pressures, especially during the summer months, threaten the stability and survival of these most precious ecosystems. Studies show that there is a growing need for awareness and education on the rational utilization of natural resources, as well as for the development of mechanisms that can ensure the effective prevention, monitoring and control of negative environmental impacts.

Biotourism – a new development model
Biotourism – tourism that respects bios (life) and the environment – is an innovative development model for the management of areas of exceptional natural beauty and an important dimension for the future. Based on the sustainable management of natural resources, biotourism promotes positive synergies between economic and social development by linking tourism to other vital sectors such as culture, education, commerce, fishing, farming and agriculture. Moreover, by caring for the environment, biotourism improves the very nature of the tourism product and increases the development potential of the region. It also dampens the negative effects of mass tourism and provides new and enhanced opportunities for economic growth and environmental protection. Key to this effort is the development of synergies among citizens and local authorities.

Goals

  • Deploying Biotourism as an innovative environmental strategy for the development of the region
  • Increasing awareness of the region’s unique environmental assets among local residents and visitors
  • Revising the tourism product with the aim of mitigating the environmental pressures of mass tourism
  • Inspiring new dimensions for social and cultural entrepreneurship

 

Actions

  • Action 1:  Infokiosk at the center of Ierapetra
  • Action 2: Development of a cell phone application for biotourism
  • Action 3: Six-week e-learning training course
  • Action 4: Biotourism guide (printed version and e-book) in English and Greek
  • Action 5: Biotourism map in English and Greek
  • Action 6. Three videos in English and Greek
  • Action 7: Conference and press conference in Ierapetra
  • Action 8: Cultural Exhibition in Ierapetra

 

The Project also involves multiple dissemination activities, media releases (in Greece and abroad) and photographic material, to raise awareness of current environmental challenges and to promote Ierapetra as a leading biotourism destination.