Thanks to the GeoKarst project, Slovenia and Italy have created the foundations for the establishment of the Kras-Carso Cross-border Geopark


At the end of October 2022, the final chapter of the GeoKarst project took place in Sežana, in which the Slovenian and Italian partners contributed to improve the cross-border cooperation and coordination between Slovenia and Italy for the management of the Karst area and fulfilled the conditions for the operation of the Kras-Carso Cross-border Geopark, which will contribute to sustainable development and strengthening competitiveness of the area. In addition to professional institutions, four partners and 13 associated partners, 12 Italian municipalities, represented by the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region, and 5 Slovenian municipalities, represented by the Municipality of Sežana, participated in the GeoKarst project.


The initiative to establish a geopark in the Karst area is a continuation of the 20-year effort of local communities to connect the cross-border area of the Classical Karst and is a continuation and implementation of the KRAS-CARSO strategic project. The idea of a geopark came to the planners of the KRAS-CARSO strategic project as the only acceptable alternative to the previously planned Karst Regional Park, because the geopark does not bring additional restrictions and best coincides with the unique natural and cultural heritage of the area, after which karst phenomena have been named around the world. Among other things, the project included the preparation of the foundation act of the Kras-Carso Geopark and the application for inclusion of the geopark in the UNESCO Global Network of Geoparks. The cross-border area of the geopark has also been defined: in Slovenia it includes the administrative borders of five municipalities - Divača, Hrpelje-Kozina, Komen, Miren-Kostanjevica and Sežana, and on the Italian side 12 municipalities, but only those in the Classical Karst area.


New image for Geopark Kras-Carso:

The GeoKarst project, which was 85% co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund as part of the Interreg VA Italy-Slovenia 2014-2020 Cooperation Program, connected the two countries in the fields of natural and cultural heritage, sustainable development and tourism. Project activities took place both at the institutional level for the establishment of a cross-border geopark on the Karst and at the operational level for the development of new sustainable tourist products based on the values of the geoparks.

As part of the project, the natural and cultural heritage was evaluated and 61 geosites were identified, which are key elements of the newly-founded geopark Kras-Carso. All activities took place in cooperation with local stakeholders, who participated in various workshops for creating the geopark. Katja Fedrigo, the project manager, said at the final partners’ meeting: "In past projects, we realized that we wanted an institution that would act as a contact point connecting the Classical Karst from both sides of the border. With the GeoKarst project, we created the conditions for this contact point that will be set in new cross-border strategic project KRAS-CARSO II, which will start in 2023, with the support of the Interreg VI-A Italy-Slovenia 2021-2027 Cooperation Program."

With the GeoKarst project, we made concrete steps towards the establishment of a geopark and membership in the UNESCO global network of geoparks. We have defined the area of the geopark and its name, and we have devoted a large part of our attention to the development of a new tourist product, with which we will present the area of the native Karst as a single destination with a unique geological heritage on international markets.

In the project, for the first time, we also organized the Week of the Geopark, which will also be held traditionally in the coming years, the last week of May and the first week of June. We have also prepared various promotional materials that represent the rich geological heritage of the native Karst and connect the tourist programs of the two countries. A book on the geology and geodiversity of the geopark was also created. At the final project event, we also presented the new overall graphic image of the geopark - the Kras-Carso Geopark product brand, which will uniformly represent the cross-border area. The Škocjan Caves Park Public Institute also prepared basic documentation for setting up the entry point of the geopark - the Karst Gate.


The achievements of the GeoKarst project are the foundation for the new strategic project KRAS-CARSO II:

The new geopark on the Karst will operate on the basis of a cross-border management plan, which will achieve the sustainability of the project, the preservation of identity, the connection of the offer and the connection of local stakeholders from both sides of the border. As part of the project, arrangements will also be made to submit a candidacy for membership in the UNESCO Global Network of Geoparks. The Director of the Regional Development Agency of Kras and Brkini, Aleš Vodičar, presented the program of the KRAS-CARSO II project, which will continue the development of the joint Geopark Kras-Carso brand in the coming years. "Geotourism represents the central activity of geoparks. The foundations for it already exist in the Classical Karst, for example with guided tours into the underground world and the Living Museum of the Karst. With the association under the geopark brand, we will carry out sustainable use of the geological heritage, take care of preserving the identity of the Karst for future generations and at the same time create new sustainable project or business ideas with the aim of developing the area," said Vodičar at the end of the event.


Basic information about the GeoKarst project:

The GeoKarst project took place from February 2020 to October 2022. The total value of the project was EUR 882,331, of which the contribution of the European Regional Development Fund amounted to EUR 749,981.35 (85% financing).

Leading partner of the project: Municipality of Sežana; other project partners: Regione Autonoma Friuli Venezia Giulia – Direzione centrale ambiente ed energia – Servizio geologico, Javni zavod Park Škocjanske jame, Slovenia, Regione del Veneto – Area Tutela e Sicurezza del Territorio – Direzione Difesa del Suolo e della Costa

13 associated partners: Center za idrijsko dediščino, ISPRA, Instituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale, Slovenska turistična organizacija, PromoTourismoFVG, Območna razvojna agencija Krasa in Brkinov, Municipality of Dolina, Municipality of Komen, Municipality of Doberdò del Lago, Municipality of Miren-Kostanjevica, Municipality of Duino Aurisina, Municipality of Divača, Municipality of Sagrado and Municipality of Hrpelje-Kozina.