Basic course on control of public use and visitor reception focused on the Natural Monument of Las Chorreras of the Cabriel River, a key educational action to work as eco-guard in the natural area
The natural area known as Las Chorreras of the Cabriel River, which is located between the municipal districts of Enguídanos and Víllora in the province of Cuenca (Spain), has a valuable natural and cultural heritage flagged by a singular tuffaceous system associated with fluvial processes and its surrounding wildlife communities. Its singularity and beauty, together with its abundant natural pools and waterfalls, make this natural area very attractive for tourists, especially in summer, when many people visit it to bathe and participate in adventure sports. However, tourist overcrowding and the associated environmental impacts have become a hazard for its conservation and frequently results in unsatisfactory recreational experiences for visitors. Therefore, guaranteeing the sustainable public use of this natural area requires to take management measures and to establish specific regulations.
The declaration of the Natural Monument of Las Chorreras of the Cabriel River will very soon be a reality, but the regulation that will ensure its sustainable public use does not yet apply. For several years now, the Enguídanos Town Council has been committed to providing the natural area with the so-called “eco-guards”. They are municipal staff that develops several basic tasks of maintenance in the area and control of its public use, serving also as in situ personnel for the reception of visitors. The conclusions of the study “Characterization of the public use of Las Chorreras of the Cabriel River” highlighted the positive role of these eco-guards and recommend keeping this figure to support the management of the future Natural Monument. However, it is also highlighted that these personnel must be qualified and well-trained, and this implies providing them an adequate education and training for the efficient and effective accomplishment of their work.
Taking this as a reference, the Enguídanos Town Council has organized a basic training course that constitutes a first step for the professional formation of the eco-guards. The course is entitled “Basic course on control of public use and attention to visitors of the Natural Monument of Las Chorreras of the Cabriel River”, and is addressed to people who want to work as eco-guards in this natural area from summer 2019. The course is completely free, is sponsored by the Association for the Rural Development of La Manchuela conquense (TURISMAN) and the Regional Government of Castilla-La Mancha (JCCM), and will be taught by members of staff of Azeral Environmental Sciences. This initiative constitutes a pilot experience that might be exportable to other rural areas as a firm commitment for sustainability linked to the management of public use in natural protected areas.
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