In October 2019, trail professionals from 13 countries gathered on the island of Kythera, Greece, for the training of trail auditors using the Green Flag Trails certification led by the World Trails Network. During the 7-days long course, a selection of Kythera’s trails were audited, and two of them were certified as Green Flag Trails – the first-ever trails in Europe to receive this
Green Flag Trails is a certification that recognizes 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. Green Flag Trails is a scientifically based trail auditing system that has been applied and tested in 6 different countries to date, including Nepal, South Africa, and Peru.
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. Also, Russia, Armenia, Georgia, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Kenya are 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 by region.
The team of experts gathered on the island of Kythera, Greece, to participate at the Green Flag Trails Auditor Training Course, were hosted by the World Trails Network, with the support of the Kytherian Foundation for Culture and Development and in cooperation with Paths of Greece. It took place at a Hikers Friendly certified hotel.
About the Kytherian Foundation for Culture and Development: Since 2006, the Kytherian Foundation has championed the conservation of Kythera Island’s cultural and natural heritage, while contributing to sustainable development and the quality of life of the local community through educational activities, events, scientific conferences and the restoration of traditional
trails, among others.
About the World Trails Network: World Trails Network is an international nonprofit association representing the World’s leading trails and trail destinations. A globally active network of diverse, high quality, environmentally sustainable trails that work in their regions to further the interests of the trails industry for the benefit of all. For more information visit: https://worldtrailsnetwork.org/
About Kythera Trails: Kythera Trails is the official trails network of Kythera Island, Greece. It aims at enhancing the natural and cultural heritage of the island while helping the local community thrive. The program is supported and implemented by the Kytherian Foundation for Culture and Development (KIPA) in collaboration with the Municipality of Kythera and Antikythera, Kythera’s Domestic Estate Management Committee, and the Mediterranean Institute for Nature and Anthropos (MedINA).
About Paths of Greece: Paths of Greece is a Social Cooperative Enterprise that restores, waymarks, and promotes old hiking trails in Greece, aiming at making Greece one of the Top Ten hiking destinations in the World. www.pathsofgreece.gr
About Hikers Friendly Hotels Certification: “Hikers Friendly Hotels” label certifies that accommodation offers a set of extra services and infrastructure to serve hikers better. The aim of the certification is the hiking experience, to start from the accommodation and not only once on the trail.