Last week, on 10 November, with a solemn event and symbolic ribbon-cutting, the new walking trail in Skrunda was opened, which is the first trail constructed in Kurzeme with the support of the Interreg Latvia-Lithuania Programme under the Project “Nature Tourism for All” (UniGreen) lead by the Kurzeme Planning Region. The new trail is 522m long and extends along the Venta river bank. The trail is intended to serve as a sporting, active recreation and walking area. The trail opening ceremony was attended both, by the county municipality and UniGreen project representatives, as well as the local community, who walked the new trail, at the same time appreciating the newly built resting areas and the small bridge built along the trail. The trail also provides an easy access to people in wheelchairs, it is 1,80m wide, with a solid, granite siding cover.
In addition, on 9-11 November, the first nature guides’ training session took place in Kuldīga with 27 guides from all over the Kurzeme Region participating. The training is organised under the UniGreen project by the Kurzeme Planning Region in cooperation with the Nature Guides’ Association of Latvia. During the first three-days session, the participants, both theoretically and practically, studied a number of topics, i.e. what is nature guide, what is nature interpretation etc. The training will run from October 2017 until November 2018 and there will be 5 more training sessions in Kurzeme. The nature guide’s training participant Sarmīte Braša (the Head of Antiquarian Repository of Cīrava Parish Administration – Tourism Information Point) admits: “The courses help the existing guides to acquire specific knowledge on the nature, allow to understand what is nature interpretation and get a solid theoretical basis of knowledge”.
Shortly before that, in the end of October, the nature guides took part at the conference on nature tourism accessibility in Plateliai, Lithuania, where more than 80 tourism specialists, municipality, nature protected areas’ and non-governmental organisations’ representatives participated from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Denmark and Finland with a purpose to share the best practice in adapting the environment and services to people with special needs, identifying the problems faced by people with various disabilities. The participants had an opportunity not only to listen to expert presentations and participate in discussions, but also to visit the already existing Šeirės nature trail in Žemaitija National Park that is adapted for people with disabilities, to observe the reconstruction process of the Plateliai Lake Viewing Platform in order to test the surface and slopes of the platform using the wheelchairs themselves.
The nature guide’s training participant Līga Šaule (Tourism Information Consultant at Saldus County Municipality Agency “Saldus Tourism Information, Culture and Sport Centre”) acknowledges that “courses help to become more observant, to open the eyes particularly as concerns the accessibility of nature tourism – the participation at the conference in Lithuania encouraged to think and assess if and to what extent our environment is acessible both, for people with disabilities, seniors, parents with children etc.”. The course participant Inga Dzērve (working at Mērsrags Information Centre) is of a similar opinion: “Returning home from the conference and passing by the newly constructed trail in Mērsrags that leads to the sea, the first that falls into the eyes – the uncomformity of the pathway to the principles of the Universal Design. Even if the width between the planks of the pathway could be manageable to overcome, the ramp and descent (the height, the angle) need to be adequately adjusted in future, also it would be advisable to install a small sidewalls on the edges of the pathway. Yet, one is clear – we see the world exactly as big as our own horizons. Therefore this training is a great opportunity to improve yourself and understand, what can I do better to correct and prevent the mistakes and leave the best possible impression on the objects I present.”.

Over the 2 years’ project implementation period in Kurzeme and the border regions of Lithuania it is foreseen to build 7 walking trails equipped with various edutainment elements, 2 resting areas, 2 playgrounds and an adventure park for children, 2 watching towers, 2 viewing platforms, 4 pontoon piers a nd 3 pontoon bridges, develop more than 40 nature trail maps, a walking trails’ image guide, install audio solutions at 10 nature objects adapted for people with eyesight problems, organise the training of nature guides in Latvia and Lithuania, as well as carry out other activities for the development of nature tourism and facilitation of the accessibility of nature objects.

This publication has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of Kurzeme Planning Region and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.

The project No.LLI-010 “Introducing nature tourism for all (UniGreen)” is being carried out with the assistance of the INTERREG V-A Latvia-Lithuania Cross Border Cooperation Programme 2014-2020. Its overall financing is 1 176 867,14 EUR, i.a. ERDF financing 1 000 337,07 EUR.

Information prepared by:
Alise Lūse
UniGreen Project Manager
Kurzeme Planning Region
Tel.: + 371 26567874,