Back in January 2004, we heard that old house was for sale on the Bloke Plateau in Slovenia. On a sunny winter day, when temperatures were well below zero and snow cover was almost a meter thick, we arrived in the small village Metulje. The house was just what we were searching for, and a few months later it became our new home. Only several months later, when the spring finally reached the plateau, we fully realised how fantastic this place is. In late spring and summer, meadows behind our house turn in a colourful carpet of flowers. They inspired us to name our ecotourism brand Nature in colour.
A decade later we still admire the same meadows every summer, but we have also seen similar places in surroundings disappear. Seeing rapidly declining nature elsewhere, made us realise that biodiversity cannot be taken for granted. To preserve it, we need more than formal protection on paper. We need people who are passionate about nature. Our nature excursions and wildlife holidays are about sharing our passion for nature with you.
We grew up on different ends of Europe but are we still amazed to notice how similar our experiences are. Both of us like to walk through wet meadows, one is looking a bit more up (Jana) and the other a bit more down (Paul), so together we see more. Or that’s what we tell each other.
Paul is from the Netherlands, which is the most densely populated country in Europe and nowadays largely man-made. Because of growing up there, Paul can still look at a straight ditch between the meadows as if it is a very attractive part of nature. But when he first came to Slovenia in 1998, he immediately fell for the real nature. Jana grew up in Slovenia and sometimes still takes flower-rich meadows for granted. Her occasional visits to the Netherlands taught her that this does not have to be forever. She always loved Slovenian nature, and having seen its vulnerability, she now appreciates it even more.
We could say that our common interest in the living world brought us together. We are both biologists, and we had a pretty good idea what we wanted to do in our lives. Back in 2003, we established an NGO, Institute Symbiosis, to work on various nature conservation and education projects. Through years, we realised that disconnection of people from nature is one of the biggest threats to nature. Modern life, often bound to cities, is offering little opportunities to enjoy the beauty of nature. In 2015, we set ourselves on a new mission – to reconnect people with nature. Developing ecotourism was a logical step. As our goals are tightly linked with nature conservation, we decided to develop ecotourism within our existing NGO and obtained licences for a tour operator. Since April 2016 we also have a status of a social enterprise, which underpins our commitment to work for broad environmental and social goals and well-being of local communities.
Paul has exceptional abilities to spot and catch animals and about almost every species he will be able to tell you a story you will never forget.
Jana grew up in Southern Slovenia: she knows all the best nature areas and the intriguing history of their protection. Starting out as a birdwatcher she has become one of Slovenia’s top-experts on Invasive Alien Species and Nature Conservation.