The European project promoting the heritage of an almost forgotten ethnic group

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Deep in the woods of the Little Carpathians of western Slovakia, an almost forgotten hidden treasure of time comes to life. The children are introduced to the people of the forest, the huncokars, native German speaker arrived there centuries ago to work as loggers. Their legacy is now coming to light.

Leave their mark

Irena Herchlová, a descendant of the Huncokars, explains that when they moved to the area, “they brought with them new logging technologies, more sustainable methods of managing the forest and even their own religious festivals.” This, among many others, led them to leave “a long-standing cultural mark” there. She believes that it is important that this heritage be preserved and valued among the local population and tourists.

A European project in favor of culture and biodiversity

Recovering long lost traditions is just one of the many activities of a European project called NemoNet which aims to improve the quality of tourism in this green and lush region bordering Austria and Slovakia. NemoNet is part of EU Interreg Slovakia-Austria program and its total budget was 1.45 million euros. 85% of this amount was funded by the EU Regional Development Fund of the European Cohesion Policy. Investment in the region, which includes the revitalization of a natural reservoir, has highlighted its cultural diversity and biodiversity.

Eco-tourism

Every year around 190,000 visitors come to the Slovak side of this natural area. Silvia Brazdovicová, coordinator of the NemoNet project explains that the region and villages, both in Slovakia and Austria, “were very popular with tourists”, but the region was “lagging behind in some technical and infrastructure requirements”. They also had to reconsider their environmental approach. She believes that thanks to the project, they are now able to offer visitors new and better conditions to enjoy the region.

On both sides of the border, they have invested in eco-transport, including infrastructure for electric mobility and cycling. A network of redeveloped trails connects different forest habitats and provides information on cultural features and conservation efforts. As one tourist tells us, the area is good, “for both your physical and mental well-being”. According to him, “this region should not only be used to produce wood, it should also help to produce happiness”.


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