Slovenia’s National Council have been drafted in to assist Bohinj Municipality’s increasingly fractious and damaging relationship with the Triglav National Park authorities. Whilst the TNP isn’t the root cause for all of the area’s problems things recently came to a head when the national park’s Draft Management Plan was unanimously rejected by Bohinj’s council. With two thirds of its territory residing within TNP protected land, the Bohinj region’s development appears to have been stymied by the legislation originally drafted to protect it.

The parlous state of much of Bohinj’s tourist accommodation in many ways sums up the hypocrisy that seems to define much of the TNP’s outmoded thinking. It is not their fault that hotels Zlatorog and Bellevue lie in ruin, the former especially being in an advanced state of dereliction. However, is it in the TNP’s best interests to have such erstwhile icons of yesteryear become greater eyesores than they were when fully functioning? The Zlatorog and its creepy annex could never have been described as architectural gems but nevertheless were passable, especially compared to the ruinous state the main building now finds itself in. The Bellevue’s visual deterioration has been less dramatic but occupying an elevated position above Ribcev Laz it is more a case of out of sight, out of mind than the Ukanc-based Zlatorog. Furthermore, as long as I have been visiting Bohinj(approximately 16 years) there has been the tumbledown remains of a fish farm and custodian cabin on the non-motorised northern side of the lake. There is now a danger of these three edifices becoming more notable for their current states of repair than the original prominence they held amongst the area’s fabric in times past. The TNP’s remit is to protect a region that in Great Britain would be termed as as Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Why, therefore, is it not bringing its considerable power to bear on matters such as these, just to name a few, instead only seemingly concentrating on ‘controlling the controllables’?

There are many absurdities seemingly dictated by the TNP which only serve to make life hard for its residents, many of whom aren’t allowed to correct storm damage to their properties until a jungle of red tape has been negotiated, the process often taking years. Whilst tourism has predominated in a region still heavily reliant on an agrarian economy visitor figures and overnight stays have seen a sharp drop(by 9 and 12% respectively), the lack of modern tourist accommodation undoubtedly being a significant factor. Visitors, though, on entering clearly marked TNP territory are surely right to not expect to see properties lying in ruins and hotels deteriorating, ironically in an area so heavily curtailed by the constraints placed upon it. Again, it seems the very laws enacted to insulate the national park from the outside world are suffocating its development and causng hardship for many of Bohinj’s residents.

For many years the Bohinjska Bistrica-based Bohinj 2864 project has unrealistically been seen as a cure for all the areas ills. Despite much posturing from those behind the scheme legal wrangles, land-disputes and now a dearth of money have all but buried the venture. I personally never saw ‘2864’ as a panacea for the Bohinj region and despite its epicenter being situated just outside the Triglav National park boundary, the environmental price seemed too high a one to pay for a facility far from guaranteed to succeed. Another ski resort is the last thing Slovenia needs, especially at such a relatively modest altitude. It was unlikely that 2864 would attract a new breed of winter sports patrons, only serving to dilute visitor numbers in other resorts rather than complement an already crowded roster of pistes. Those behind the Bohinj 2864 project would presumably be fairly relaxed if visitor numbers dropped at rival resorts but is this what the incumbent Slovenian administration wants – success at the expense of other, more established resorts? The survival of the fittest is always a robust argument espoused by those in business but if such a scheme ultimately did more harm than good, no positive purpose is ultimately served.

It is hoped the long-overdue involvement of the National Council will at the very least prove to be a useful conduit between Bohinj’s Obcina and the Triglav National Park authorities, with a more resident-centric ethos adopted to supplement the ecological needs of one of Europe’s most unique areas. There are many reasons behind the current impasse between both parties and whilst it is unrealistic to expect either side to have everything its own way, a workable consensus is surely the only way to quell the increasing alienation between the Triglav National Park and many of its human residents.

Further reading on this subject can be viewed at: Gorenjski Glas: Bohinj seeks National Council help