Join us on our virtual journey around the DestiMED PLUS Pilot Sites!
Mediterranean Protected Areas are treasure troves of human history, culture and outstanding natural beauty.
From the rich volcanic mountains of Garrotxa National Park in Northern Catalonia, to the crystal blue waters of Italy´s Porto Conte Regional Park in Sardinia, DestiMED PLUS project will be working with nine outstanding pilot sites across the northern shores of the Mediterranean basin.
Over the past few weeks, we have presented the project pilot sites through MEET social media channels, taking you to taking you from the highest point of Mount Kofinas in Western Asterousia and to the deepest depths of the Mediterranean Sea in Cabo de Gata National Park, every crevice filled with the echoes of ancient cultures and mesmerizing views of coastal landscapes. At every step we have been hosted by local farmers, cheese-makers and fishermen, whose families have watched over these cherished lands for centuries.
Let’s look back on our journey through the #DESTIMED PLUS protected area pilot sites which our project partners will work with throughout the course of the project to develop ecotourism products that will be ready soon to be enjoyed by you!
1. National Park of Divjakë-Karvasta (Albania)
The first Protected Area on our virtual journey was the National Park of Divjakë-Karavasta which is one of the most recognised protected areas in Albania. Situated on the western coast it is famously known for its rich habitats and ecosystems, not to mention its diverse range of species such as the Dalmatian Pelican! The protected area, outlined by two rivers, accommodates a breathtaking mosaic of natural terrestrial and wetland habitats, including the Karavasta and small pioneer lagoons. Its agricultural land, created through reclamation efforts, was designated as a The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands site in 1995 due to its vital importance to both humans and wildlife.
The Albanian National Agency of Protected Areas (NAPA), a #DESITMEDPLUS project partner is working in this first destination with the National Park of Divjakë. (Photo Credit, RAPA Fier).
2. Western Asterousia (Crete)
The second Protected Area on our virtual journey was Western Asterousia in Crete, Greece. Based in the Western Asterousia Mountains in Southern Crete. The landscapes of this protected area showcase a unique balance between impressive cliffs and gorges, and stunning sandy beaches where loggerhead turtles go to lay their eggs.
Crete Region is one of nine regions participating in #DestiMEDPLUS Project and is working with Western Asterousia. (Photo Credit, Stefanakis foto).
3. North Karpathos and Saria Island (South Aegean)
Our third stop was the Protected Area of North Karpathos and Saria Island, a, which lies between a narrow sea line called the Saria Strait. This region is rich in biodiversity and has a diverse range of endemic species. Notably, it is the habitat of one of the largest populations of Mediterranean Monk Seals in Europe and is known as an important Bird Area of Europe. The islands are recognizable by their cliffs and rocky coasts, which are typical of the Aegean Region and provide a unique aesthetic value, as well as, great archaeological and cultural importance.
The Regional Development Agency of South Aegean Region is one of #DESTIMEDPLUS project partners and is working with the protected area team in North Karpathosand Saria Island in this site.
4. Cres -Lošinj (Croatia)
The island of Cres-Lošinj was our fourth stop. This island is named the Island of Vitality, because it has more than 200 day of sunshine annually, 280 km of hiking and cycling trails, supreme air and high sea quality and rich biodiversity with more than 1,200 plant species, of which 230 are species of medicinal plants! The Island itself is a part of the Cres-Lošinj Marine Protected Area and is well known in Croatia as a special zoological reserve for bottlenose dolphins, as well as loggerhead turtles. Since 2014 it has also been a Site of Community Importance for the European Union Natura 2000 Ecological Network.
This protected area is working with the #DESTIMEDPLUS project partners at the Croatian Institute of Tourism and the Primorsko-Goranska County for this site. (Photo Credit, Oscar Piljek).
5. Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park (Andalusia)
The Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park, Spain, was our fifth stop on our virtual Mediterranean journey. This protected area was Andalusia’s first marine and terrestrial protected area, declared biosphere reserve and a UNESCO Geopark. Recognizable by its unusual ecosystems and landscape, a consequence of its unique geology and climate - it is the only region in mainland Europe with a hot desert climate. In the park you can find volcanic substrates with lava outcrops, domes and fossil beaches whose black and red tones are beautiful and captivating. (Photo Credit, Gloria García Hoyo - Junta Andalucia).
The Regional Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fishing & Sustainable Development of Andalusia (CSJA) is a #DESTIMEDPLUS project partner and will work with the park team for their pilot site.
6. Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park (Catalonia)
The sixth stop on our virtual Mediterranean journey took us to the North-Western Med to Catalonia, where we found another geological wonder, the Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park. With volcanic cones, lava flows and oak and beech woods, not to mention, the old medieval towns, this protected area has so much to offer. A bird's eye view of the park boasts a mosaic of colour from the different shades of green to the black and deep reds of the volcanic earth, and the maple leaves in autumn.
The Government of Catalonia´s, Department of Territory and Sustainability, a #DESTIMEDPLUS project partner is working with the park’s team for the purpose of the project. (Photo Credit, Òscar Rodbag, Turismo Garrotxa).
7. Bouches de Bonifacio Nature Reserve (Corsica)
For stop number seven we harboured on the shores of Bouches de Bonifacio Nature Reserve in Southern Corsica. This reserve is home to an abundance of natural coastal landscapes over five municipalities. Large creeks and shallow bays, along with marine grottos, lagoons, sand dunes and stunning cliffs above white sand beaches make Bouches des Bonifacio one of the most naturally stunning protected areas in the region. When visiting this nature reserve make sure you look out for dolphins, sea turtles and the valuable posidonia grasslands along the sandy shores.
#DESTIMEDPLUS project partner, the Corsican Tourism Agency will be working with Bouches de Bonifacio Nature Reserve to develop their ecotourism product pilot action for the project. (Photo Credit, Copyright of OEC - Office de l’Environnement de Corse).
8. Porto Conte Regional Natural Park (Sardinia)
We then hopped off our virtual boat for our eighth stop at the Porto Conte Regional Natural Park in Sardinia. This protected area displays an expanse of uncontaminated landscapes with breath-taking views of the sea, unique plant and animal species and a rich collection of significant archeological remains. The natural park hosts a myriad of landscapes from steep coastal cliffs where you may see fossils in limestone, to sandy seabeds with posidonia meadows which are important habitats for molluscs and crustaceans such as lobsters to reproduce.
The Autonomous Region of Sardinia Department of the Environment is a #DESTIMEDPLUS project partner and is working with the park team for the project.
9. Ponziane Archipelago (Lazio)
Our ninth and final stop on our virtual Mediterranean journey around the #DESTIMEDPLUS pilot sites was the Ponziane Islands in Lazio Italy. The archipelago is steeped in culture, with archaeological and historic sites from the prehistoric age to the eighteenth century. The archipelago also boasts significant natural beauty as a key site for migrant birds and the home to several marine and terrestrial habitats such as a holm oak forest.
Lazio Region's Department, Direzione Regionale Capitale Naturale Parchi e Aree Protette, a #DESTIMEDPLUS project partner is working with protected area managers from this site for the project!