GARDEN ROUTE NEWS - Hiking trails on the Garden Route continue to be maintained at and held to a world-class standard, with a total of 19 multi- and single-day hiking trails named on the latest Green Flag Trails list.
Green Flag Trails is a certification that recognises trails for their accurate data, environmental responsibility and sustainable management. It focuses on sustainability and responsibility towards hiking and walking tourists and aims to stimulate ecotourism on a global level.
Green Flag Trails is a scientifically based trail auditing system that has been developed in South Africa and applied and tested in six different countries to date, including Nepal, St Helena and Peru as well as various countries in southern Africa.
The Green Flag certification system has again proved that the Garden Route boasts a wide variety of world-class hiking trails, after 19 Garden Route trails have been handed Green Flag status.
The 19 trails are made up of four multi-day hiking trails and 15 single-day hiking trails, with the majority belonging to Garden Route National Park's Tsitsikamma section which offer eight multi-day trails and one single-day trail – the Tsitsikamma Hiking Trail – with Green Flag status.
The Knysna section has two multi-day hikes and one single-day trail (Harkerville), while the Wilderness section contains five single-day hiking trails and one multi-day trail (Outeniqua Hiking Trail).
The final multi-day hiking trail with Green Flag status on the Garden Route is the Oyster Catcher Hiking Trail, just outside Mossel Bay.
The Karoo also has a multi-day hiking trail with Green Flag status in the form of the Donkey Trail just outside Calitzdorp. This isn't all that's been happening on the Green Flag front however, as last month, trail professionals from 13 countries gathered on the island of Kythera, Greece, for the training of trail auditors using the Green Flag Trails certification system, led by the World Trails Network.
During the seven-day course, two Greek trails received Green Flag status – the first-ever trails in Europe to formally receive this certification.
This has been the first step of the Green Flag Trails certification in Europe. The next step is meeting the demand for the certification of trails in other countries across Europe that joined the course, such as Portugal, Spain, Italy and Hungary.
In addition, Russia, Armenia, Georgia, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Kenya are also aspiring to improve the sustainability of their trails, by implementing the system.
All the participants who successfully attended the course have become certified Green Flag Trails auditors. At the same time, expert trail auditor groups were formed according to region to oversee the further implementation on global level.
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