7th July 2020, Virgin forest Krokar, Slovenia
The Slovenian Forests Week is an annual event that raises awareness about forests and forestry practices in Slovenia. Taking place in the last week of May, one of Forests Week’s traditional events is also a guided hike along the Borovška Nature Trail, located in the buffer zone of the Virgin Forest Krokar. The hike is meant to acquaint participants with the history of the region’s forestry and nature conservation. This also includes introducing participants to the meaning of virgin forests and their importance. The common theme of this year’s Forests Week was “I Feel Forest”, so the hike’s focus was also on personal responsibility when visiting forests.
As a member of BEECH POWER’s project team, I attended this year’s hike to also talk about the importance of the UNESCO designation and introduce people to the goals of BEECH POWER. The hike was attended by 37 hikers and four members of the Slovenia Forest Service, two of which were the guides organising this event since its inception. Among the hikers, one could find people of all demographics, from young children to retirees. The guides did not rush and everyone managed to complete the hike at a leisurely pace. Stopping at different points on the trail, the guides and I tried to present different topics to our visitors.
At first they seemed very interested, especially older people and families with children were asking questions. They seemed to lose interest during the second half of the hike, though, probably as fatigue and hunger set in. The shift in attention was also the result of the fact that part of the trail lead through beautiful slopes of blooming wild garlic and fallen trees. Therefore, everybody was naturally too preoccupied with the view to listen to the guides.
As we stopped for lunch on a vantage point overlooking the cliffs of Krokar and the forests beyond, I decided that I’ll let the beauty of the rolling wooded hills speak for itself. We finished the trail in about 4 hours at a snail’s pace, some might say, since the trail is only 8 kilometres long, however, all in all I think the hike was a success. Combined with the information given by our guides and the beauty of the trail, I believe the participants gained an admiration for forests and an understanding for the importance of nature conservation.