Kvarner newsletter / no 3

The Independent recommends
An invitation to visit the island of Cres

In the selection of best worldwide destinations for the year 2008, a renowned British newspaper, The Independent, recommended those of its readers travelling to the Mediterranean not to miss the island of Cres, where they can combine a holiday in a warm and beautiful place with helping to save the endangered Eurasian griffon vulture and preserve a vulnerable forest.

In these times in which efforts are being made to preserve biological diversity and there is a growing trend of eco-tourism, the island of Cres, as one of Croatia’s ecological rarities, offers its guests a unique experience. In a protected landscape home to many species of animals, guests can enjoy the natural environment that gives them the opportunity to do things they could never do in their hometowns. For example, they can learn how to shear a sheep, build dry-stone walls, or take care of (or even adopt!) Eurasian griffon vultures.
The island of Cres, the largest island on the Adriatic, is located in the northern part of Kvarner Bay. Cres is characterised by the great contrast between its northern, sub-Mediterranean part, with dense forests of downy oak, hornbeam, elm and chestnut, and its middle and southern Mediterranean region, which abounds in bare, rocky pasture grounds and dense macchia shrubland.
A rich flora and fauna (with ca. 1,300 species), including an astonishing number of endemic species, represents a great challenge for all nature lovers.
The Eco Centre in Beli, particularly praised by The Independent, has been taking care of griffon vultures for 14 years. In addition, the centre promotes eco-tourism as the only way to bring together the traditional way of life, which is based on sheep breeding and small agriculture, and the economic development of this island. For many years now, members of the Eco Centre in Beli have implemented many projects with the aim of promoting eco-tourism, preserving the most valuable parts of the natural, historical and cultural heritage of the island, and presenting it to tourists.
This was the reason for opening a network of seven marked educational trails on the northern part of the island, which is known as Tramuntana. In addition to educational trails that wind through old settlements, attractive labyrinths were constructed with the aim of re-establishing communication between people and nature.
The building of the Eco Centre hosts a permanent exhibition, “The Biodiversity of the Cres-Lošinj Archipelago”, which is also the starting point of the tourist route and may also include a visit to the griffon vulture protected area.