Training and updating of ecotourism guides from Mercantour to Lombardy
Often the wolf is only seen as an economic detriment to animal husbandry and is perceived as a potential threat to alpine tourism. With the many initiatives implemented under action C7 of the LIFE WolfAlps EU project, the intention is to transform the wolf into an economic development factor through ecotourism proposals and products that protect the environment and improve coexistence with large carnivores. Ecotourism done well supports the local economy and the work of mountain breeders, improves knowledge of the wolf, raises tourists’ awareness of the impact of hiking and the behaviour to adopt when hiking in areas where the mountain pastures are protected from predators.
The training of guides and tour operators is an essential element for the dissemination of content of the guidelines developed within the project and to foster the development of initiatives on the territory regardless of the duration of LIFE itself.
Since the start of the project, more than 7 training courses have been organised by the different partners in the project area, such as the one recently held in Slovenia.
New initiatives took place during these summer months. In June 2023, the project coordinator for the Mercantour National Park trained the mountain guides of the Park’s five valleys on the topic of interactions between wolves and human activities. The guides received the most up-to-date information in order to be able to talk about the topic at the forthcoming awareness-raising events they will organise this summer in mountain huts and other tourist locations.
In Italy the third Training Course for Ecotourism Operators “The Wolf: from theory to practice”, organised by the University of Pavia, in collaboration with the Lombardy Region, has just ended. The course was aimed at Alpine Guides, Medium Mountain Guides, Environmental and Hiking Guides and other professional guides, as well as Voluntary Ecological Guards. There was an on-line theoretical part, which was attended by 89 people, and a practical part, which was attended by 35 people. The course provided an all-round approach to the subject of the wolf, from its biology to the collective imagination, from its ecological role to conflicts with human activities and damage prevention, from the Guidelines for responsible ecotourism trekking activities focused on the wolf, to the sensitive issue of communication with the various stakeholders. Practical outings made it possible to concretely apply the knowledge acquired through the online theory modules. Three were carried out: two of these in the Pavia Alessandria Apennines, on the Via del Sale, along the ridge that leads from Colle Seppa to Monte Chiappo; another practical outing was held in Val Gerola, with the collaboration of the Parco delle Orobie Valtellinesi and a park guide, along the route that leads from Bar Bianco to Cima Rosetta and Lago Culino.”