The award, which SOS Proteus Information Centre received for being one of the 100 most sustainable stories in the world, goes to the most deserving person – the biologist Gregor Aljančič and his Institute of the Tular Cave Laboratory. The Mayor of the Municipality of Kranj, Matjaž Rakovec, and the Director of the Kranj Tourism and Culture Board, Klemen Malovrh, presented the award to Aljančič at the SOS Proteus Information Centre in Kranj.
The founder of the Tular Cave Laboratory, Gregor Aljančič, is the initiator, professional developer and manager of the SOS Proteus Information Centre. It is located in Tunnels under the old town of Kranj and its mission is to raise awareness about the endangerment of cave salamanders and the importance of preserving underground sources of drinking water. Among other things, the exhibition features rescued olms that were washed to the surface by groundwater floods, where they would not otherwise have survived. The SOS Proteus Information Centre was listed among Green Destinations Top 100 Stories as an outstanding sustainable product with the story “With the olms, we share the need for clean and drinkable groundwater”. The story is a reminder of the threat to cave biodiversity and it symbolises the sense of purpose behind the efforts to preserve clean groundwater, the most important source of drinking water.
With all this, the SOS Proteus Information Centre, a project of the public-private partnership between the Tular Cave Laboratory, the Municipality of Kranj and the Kranj Tourism and Culture Board, has been selected as one of the 100 most sustainable stories in the world. The award was received by the Mayor of Kranj, Matjaž Rakovec, at an event in Tallinn, Estonia, and today it has passed into the hands of the most deserving person – the biologist Gregor Aljančič and his Tular Cave Laboratory Institute. “The public-private partnership between the Municipality of Kranj and the Tular Cave Laboratory Institute has resulted in the creation of an attractive educational product, the SOS Proteus Information Centre, which uses the story of the olms to raise people’s awareness of their importance and the importance of preserving their habitat – the groundwater. The centre is an important part of Kranj’s sustainability efforts, which was already recognised in Brussels at the end of last year when the European Commission awarded the city the title of the European Destination of Excellence 2023. With this product, one of the 100 most sustainable stories in the world, we are connecting the good with the useful in Kranj and consolidating our status as a sustainable destination,” said the Mayor of Kranj, Matjaž Rakovec, when presenting the award.
Researchers at the Tular Cave Laboratory have been studying and protecting olms for 60 years. The SOS Proteus Information Centre is bringing their findings to the wider public and is the first centre of its kind in the world to monitor the impact of visitors on olms. As one of the leading sustainable projects in this tourist destination, it has contributed to two high awards received by Kranj this year: the European Destination of Excellence 2023 and the Slovenia Green Destination Platinum label, and has also been mentioned by prestigious international media (Guardian, The Times). Gregor and Magdalena Aljančič said the following about the titles and awards they received: “Elsewhere, the olms have been presented to the public as a tourist attraction for 200 years. At the SOS Proteus Information Centre, we are trying to get the public to accept this animal primarily as an endangered cave amphibian, which holds up a mirror to the destruction of the planet’s drinking water resources. The international recognition of the centre is not only a confirmation of the efforts of Kranj and its citizens to create a healthier environment, but also a support for our commitment to show our activities to the world and help improve the world together by implementing innovative ideas. We warmly invite you to visit the SOS Proteus Information Centre and become a direct supporter of the olms. All funds raised are invested in the research and protection of the olms.”
The Centre was created in a public-private partnership between the Municipality of Kranj and the Tular Cave Laboratory. The Tourism and Culture Board Kranj, as the custodian of the Tunnels under the old town of Kranj, where the SOS Proteus Information Centre is located, is responsible for promoting this green story. “With the SOS Proteus Information Centre, Kranj has certainly one of the most interesting and sustainable tourism products, unique even on a global scale. With its content and the awards that this centre has brought to Kranj, it has put the city on the tourist map both in Slovenia and abroad. The Tourism and Culture Board Kranj is involved in the project as an investor, the manager of the Tunnels under the old town of Kranj and the promoter of the Centre. We are proud to be part of such a great story,” said Klemen Malovrh, Director of the Tourism and Culture Board Kranj, at the ceremony.
The tourist trade has recognised the added value of the SOS Proteus Information Centre in the Tunnels under the old town of Kranj. Therefore, all those who have not yet visited it, are cordially invited to take a look and see for themselves.
Photo: Tourism and Culture Board Kranj, Primož Pičulin