Petra Matos, founder

Petra Matos, the founder of Park Istra, was for many years the president and founder of the association Ecologists Without Borders. During her presidency, the association became the most recognizable environmental NGO in Slovenia. In 2010 and 2012, she led the Let’s Clean Slovenia in one Day and Clean Slovenia 2012 projects. The latter connected 300,000 volunteers in a single day and went down in history as the largest environmental volunteer project in the history of Slovenia. In 2010, Petra became the Name of the Year. In 2011, she acted as Ambassador of the European Year of Volunteering. In 2012, she continued her studies of geography with a focus on environmental protection with postgraduate studies in Partnership and Marriage Therapy. In 2019, she was the recipient of a state award for outstanding achievements in the field of volunteering. She wrote several books and articles to rise ecological awareness among Slovenes. In recent years, she has been working as a volunteer coordinator in Park Istra, for which she has received several awards. She has been a mentor to around 1,200 volunteers, mostly young people with fewer opportunities. She has shared her experience of working with young people at many conferences. She addressed the difficulties faced by young people during their stay in Park Istra by developing a “Park Istra Hosting Model”, a set of different methods for connecting and empowering young people.


Janez Matos, PhD, director

Janez Matos worked as a project manager and member of the board of directors in the association Ekologi bez meja. He received the Outstanding Student Achievement Award for organizing, planning and implementing the first national census of illegal dumpsites, organizing and leading over a thousand volunteers. In 2012, he became a member of the Environmental Protection Council of the Republic of Slovenia. In 2013, he has started the Park Istra project. In 2016, he completed his doctoral studies in Environmental Protection at the University of Ljubljana. In recent years, he has been working in Park Istra as a director, organizer of volunteer work and a mentor to international volunteers.


Valentina Brečko Grubar, PhD, board member

Valentina Brečko Grubar completed her undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Geography at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana: Master’s degree in Regional Ecology and Environmental Protection in 1998, and PhD in Geography in 2006. In the period from 1996 to 2007, she was employed as an assistant at the Department of Geography of the Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana, and since 2007 as an assistant professor at the Faculty of Humanities in Koper. She teaches subjects in the fields of physical and environmental geography and participates in the implementation of the study program Management of Sustainable Development. She is a member of the board of Park Istra association as a representative of the interested public.


Marjan Bele, PdD, board member

Marjan Bele is a researcher in the Materials Chemistry Laboratory at the Institute of Chemistry, where he mainly deals with the preparation and design of advanced materials for sustainable and low-carbon energy solutions, such as new active materials for lithium-ion batteries and materials for electro-catalysis, which are used in fuel cells. He is the co-author of more than ninety scientific articles in international periodicals and several national and international patents. He is a member of the board of the Park Istra association as a representative of the founders.

Klaudijo Starc, BSE, board member

Klaudijo Starc completed his undergraduate degree at the Faculty of Maritime Studies and Transport in Portorož. In addition to his professional career in the insurance industry, he was very actively involved in activities in the field of rural development. He co-created several local and municipal projects. He was also the initiator, founder and president of the Society for Comprehensive Development of the Smokvica Village, under whose auspices all key activities for the restoration of this Istrian village and its surroundings, the preservation of architectural and natural attractions, and projects to promote the authenticity of the local environment, sustainable development and recognition were carried out. He is a member of the board of the Park Istra association as a representative of volunteers.