The objective was to develop our understanding of conservation issues and exchange ideas through meeting experts and seeing practical examples of research and wildlife management in Norway. We also all had our own personal development objectives that we wanted to achieve. Our host for the week was Marius Kjonsberg, lecturer for the Applied Ecology and Agricultural Science Facility at the University of Hedmark. We were based mainly at the Evenstad campus, located in the south east of Norway. Marius was a fantastic host and managed to co-ordinate a great variety of topics and arranged for pertinent site visits and talks. We learnt a great deal that we hope to apply to the management of our own natural resources.
Our first day saw us travel 50km north of our base in Tampere to Seitseminen National Park. Founded in 1982 and covering an area of 45.5km², the National Park is managed by the state owned enterprise Metsähallitus. Seitseminen National Park frames a mosaic of landscapes with a diverse mix of habitats which include; ancient forests, esker ridges & open bogs.
Throughout the week, a theme emerged in the use of heritage in the projection, and reformation, of Bulgarian identity. Having only recently emerged from a long period of Soviet Russian domination and even more recently having joined the European Union, there seemed to be a desire to present Bulgaria as a modern European nation that had a shared history with the rest of Europe.
In the valleys and hillsides of the Apuseni Mountains, hay making is at the centre of farming life and goes on all through the summer months with the meadows receiving several cuts, providing hay for a way of life that has existed in these valleys for hundreds of years. Gentians, carline thistles, scabious, Transylvanian clary, wild thyme, vetchs, clovers and a vast array of other species were all still in flower on the meadow margins and track verges
NET Managing our Natural and Cultural Assets A programme funded by Erasmus Slovenia 2017 Reports by Danielle Casey, Scottish Natural Heritage Stuart Shaw, Scottish Natural Heritage and John McGregor, SRUC Oatridge Introduction The following three reports provide an insight into the natural heritage of Slovenia. The reports do not follow a set structure; they are a taster of what the participants took from this excellent opportunity to learn about this fascinating country. It is apparent, however, that some general issues and themes were at the forefront of our minds throughout the week – the similarities and differences between Scotland and Slovenia, economic development, funding, diversification, tourism, local communities, designations and flora and fauna. My section of the report looks at a some of the parks we visited; Stuart’s looks at sustainable development and local tourist taxation; John’s is focused on forestry and agriculture. Whilst offering a taster only, I hope the three different sections demonstrate what an interesting place Slovenia is in terms of nature conservation and sustainable economic development. The passion of the Slovenians was apparent to us, as was the largely held belief that the tourism offer should be one based on quality as opposed to increased visitor […]
we headed up the valley to Tyrfingsstaðir to begin our first day of turf building. Here we donned bright waterproof cagoules and met Helgi Sigurðsson, our turf-building teacher and expert. Sigurður Björnsson and Kristín Jóhannsdóttir own and live on the farm.
Overall this was an extremely useful course. The Estonian approach to interpretation is generally elegant and the use of sustainable materials taught me that I can seize the opportunity to consider similar pared down approaches in my own practice. Highlights of the trip for me (apart from all the wonderful food) were visiting the convent and the Russian Old Believers Praying House.
The 2017 Slovakia/Scotland exchange group have produced the following ArcGIS story map as their final report, use the embedded version below or click the link below to view in a new window: https://arcg.is/HrLii
Ben Ross – SNH Background As Scottish Natural Heritage’s Licensing Manager I oversee the delivery of over 2000 licences each year to allow people to undertake activities affecting protected species that would otherwise be an offence. This includes control of geese to protect agricultural interests, deer authorisations, survey and monitoring licences and many other areas. Much of this work relates to resolving conflicts between the needs of people and society and species that have been given protected species status on account of their rarity, sensitivity to disturbance or for reasons relating to animal welfare or a history of persecution. In May this year I had the opportunity to visit Norway as part of the Erasmus + programme. The focus of the visit was on wildlife management in Norway, in particular looking at moose, reindeer, small game and large carnivores. At a time where there is increasing interest in the UK in wildlife management and species reintroductions this was an excellent opportunity for me to examine how a different country deals with wildlife management conflicts, to look at the similarities and differences and opportunities to improve how we deal with similar issues. Protected Species in Norway In the UK […]
In this context, I was particularly interested during my recent visit to Hogskolen I Hedmark, Norway and the associated structured course, to explore how hunting systems and natural wildlife resources were administrated in that country to inform my understanding as to how systems might be improved in the future in Scotland.
While the vast majority of the land is under some form of management and is modified nature conservation and natural heritage interests appeared to be in a relatively healthy state. During the visit we were largely engaged with consideration of wildlife management for economic purposes (even in relation to protected species including large carnivores), we were able to consider wider ecosystem health and the role that played in maintaining healthy populations of different wildlife species
In Norway, there is an annual monitoring programme of all grouse species that covers much of the country. Started in 2013, the Hønsefugl Portalen is a largescale partnership between NINA (Norwegian Institute for Nature Research), FeFo (a landowner enterprise in Finnmark, Northern Norway), Statskog (State landowner), Miljødirektoratet (Norwegian Environement Agency), HINT (Nordtrondelag University), Norges Fjellstyresamband (Norwegian Mountain Board who administer hunting rights on crown land) and Hedmark University. The initial project began in the 1950’s, walking transects and counting flushed birds, using the distance counting statistical method. It is now a web-based portal for monitoring both public and private land.
I work for Scottish Natural Heritage and prior to this worked for the Deer Commission for Scotland. Wildlife management in Scotland is an important issue; culturally, economically, socially and increasingly politically. Learning about and seeing first-hand how Norway manages wildlife; the challenges, opportunities and some of the solutions they have found was a valuable experience for me that will influence both my professional and personal life.
Visitors and the countryside in Norway Robert Coleman – RSPB First impressions count when it comes to visitor experiences and from the flight out to the flight home Norway made a lasting impression. Friendly people, fantastic landscapes and iconic wildlife…so where did we start… INDOORS! Our first visitor experience in Norway was an indoors one focused on the outdoors and it did a great job at setting the scene and demonstrated that ‘stuffed’ animals can tell stories. The Norwegian Forestry Museum was established in 1954 and is one of the most visited museums in Norway with over 100,000 visitors a year. Compared to the galleries of some museums in Scotland this place was alive with wildlife. An aquarium gave close encounters with a wide range of the fish species present in Norway and there were well presented ‘stuffed’ specimens of all the other iconic wildlife of the country. One of the recurrent themes of the whole trip was ‘stuffed animals’. These are very prevalent in Norway whether it is in a museum, in a hunting lodge or in the offices of ecological advisors, they were without exception of a high standard and despite being told on many […]
Over the past few years and after the successful reintroduction of beavers in Scotland, there have been talks and interest about the possibility of lynx reintroduction in Scotland. Therefore we were all keen to know more about the lynx ecology, management and conflict mitigations Norway. Norway has four main carnivores with some habitat where all of them co-exist.
The arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) is categorised by the IUCN as Least Concern due to its circumpolar distribution in tundra and alpine habitats and a global population of several hundred thousand (IUCN, 2017). However, within Fennoscandia the situation is very different: populations have been at an unsustainable low since the late 1920s. I personally found visiting the breeding centre and learning about the programme very interesting as I was able to draw parallels with my own work, which is to reintroduce red squirrels to the Northwest Scottish Highlands.
The aim of the course was to give an understanding of land use in Southwest Norway, with a particular focus on forestry, game management, and conservation. Relevance has been heightened by recent trends in Scottish rural policy, seeking to redress the balance in land tenure between smaller-scale freehold, community land ownership, and the sporting interests on private estates. Visiting these upland areas of montane scrub in Norway was incredibly inspiring, showing us what we could do to restore habitats largely lost from the Scottish landscape.
In Romania wildflower meadows carpet the land, different species of birds pop up constantly, butterflies abound and the air is alive with the sound of insects and frogs singing. During the first two days of our trip we were lucky enough to spend time on our guide Monica’s grandmother’s farm in the tiny village of Girbovita, where we visited the vine yard, hey meadows, orchards, vegetable garden and farmyard animals before sitting down to a delicious home grown lunch
The first thing that struck me about Latvia is that there are trees as far as the eye can see and it’s rare to see a fence, except occasionally in city gardens. In a country where forest covers just over half of the land mass (and the aim is to reach 56% cover) it was interesting to be introduced to a variety of different responses to land management with different values regarding for who or what the land is for. From our base in Līgatne Baiba Rotberga and Andis Purs from the Latvian state forest service took us on an educational adventure, giving us what felt like a unique and special insight into quite a range of subjects which I know I’d never have had access to without them. We visited foresters, a hunting lodge, a flooded bog, meadows and forests managed for biodiversity, a peat extraction site, a berry farm, a wildlife safari park and were introduced to Latvian recreation and overloaded on delicious food. Here are my highlights form the week and the topics that I found most interesting. Forestry In her introduction to Latvian forestry Baiba gave us a brief political history of the Lavian state and […]
Mr Vilcins explained that ‘the sight (of clear felled areas) was preposterous
With its independence, Latvia is negotiating and exploring the boundaries and crossovers between capitalism, neoliberalism, socialism, civic participation all beneath the umbrella of climate change threats and the remnants of its Soviet past. What we would deem as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ have completely different connotations and consequences in Latvia. Cooperative farming, a triumphant alternative example to intensive commercial commodity focused farming in Scotland is only just now coming back…
Approximately 3.9% of Latvia’s land is covered by bogs.. Although there are several other different wetland habitat types, from western taiga to boggy woodlands. During our visit we visited 3 different bogs in several different states. The first bog we visited was a Natura 2000 site and in its current state was as a flooded wetland. The bog had been stripped, complete with railways to remove the peat and a nearby town had been created to house the workers for the peat extraction (Seda).
with meadows full of wild flowers, butterflies and insects and forests composed of native trees. Despite this incredible biodiversity it was interesting to see that Slovenian nature conservation faces similar problems as we do in Scotland
This report is written from my perspective as a builder, researcher and trainer in Earth building.
Firstly, thank you to all the people who made this trip to Iceland – funded by Erasmus+ – possible. Thank you to ARCH Network and Libby Urquhart for organising the trip from Scotland and to Byggðasafn Skagfirðinga and everyone in Iceland for hosting us and making us feel welcome. The focus of the week was the traditional building method of turf building. Focusing on spreading knowledge and skills of a traditional building method, this course fits in very well with the aims of the Scottish Lime Centre Trust. The Trust focuses on exactly these areas in connection with traditional masonry and lime mortars. This report will first go through a diary of the days in Iceland. After that, there will an introduction to the basics of building with turf. Based on our expertise, we will then connect the aspects of the course to our own experience. Diary (Anne Schmidt) Arriving in Keflavik after a slightly delayed flight, we were met by the amazing Bryndis Zoega. After a seemingly endless journey to Skagafjodur through the surprisingly light night, we arrived at the farm Keldudalur Hegranes where we would be staying for the week. Day 1 – Monday The next day started […]
NET – Managing our Natural and Cultural Assets ‘Can turf be revived as a contemporary building material?’ DISSEMINATION REPORT Iceland June 2016 Iceland Date: 18.07.2016 SUMMARY This report summarises the findings of a 7-day visit to Iceland during June 2016. The trip was funded by Erasmus+ and organised by Libby Urquhart on behalf of the ARCHnetwork and was primarily undertaken to investigate how we can Manage our Natural & Cultural Assets focusing primarily on Icelandic turf building. During our trip, led by Bryndis Zoega (Skagafjörður Heritage Museum and project manager for the Heritage Craft School), we studied the heritage of turf building, traditional tools and construction techniques, appropriate repairs and maintenance, examined precedents of traditional turf buildings and witnessed the threats that are imposed by tourists on these buildings of great cultural significance. With a background into this building technique and awareness that turf buildings are close to extinction along with the skills and knowledge of experienced craftsman, the reports explores if turf building could be used in a contemporary way to revive this building technique. New buildings would help sustain the specialist skills and knowledge whilst protecting the traditional buildings from the threats that are imposed from […]
Ultimately I think one of the biggest things I have taken from this trip is the chance to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the heritage sector with like minded individuals. It amazed me how many similarities there were between Scotland and Iceland. Since learning more about traditional building methods I am keen to look into ways to incorporate these crafts into the education programme and our new outdoor learning workshops. I think there is an opportunity to engage all age groups with traditional skills. It may not be quite as elaborate of a turf house in a beautiful farm in northern Iceland but I think it is worth a try!
The Settlement Exhibition is extraordinary. To be honest (and this may sound strange coming from an archaeologist) I find many museums tedious. But this exhibition is different. We are presented with the foundations, preserved in situ, of an entire longhouse from the early years of Viking settlement. Clever lighting and imaginative high-tech presentations draw us into discovering the story at our own pace. Then, right next to the longhouse, there is the tantalising fragment of a turf wall, which, because it has been sealed by a layer of tefra dated to 871, must be at least three years older than the traditional date for the settlement of Iceland. In one room, the birth of a nation is both celebrated and challenged. Brilliant!
Across Europe a network of ‘protected areas’ has been a key mechanism for delivering species and habitat protection and achieving EU 2020 biodiversity strategy targets. During our visit we were fortunate to meet many practitioners involved directly in the management of a range of valuable protected areas and discuss their approach to management.
The Society for the Coast (EUCC Poland) hosted the group, ably led by Dr. Kazimierz Rabski. EUCC is a stakeholder and network association with members in 40 countries. It aims to promote a European approach to coastal conservation by bridging the gap between scientists, environmentalists, site managers, planners and policy makers. Since its foundation in 1989 it has grown into the largest network of coastal and marine practitioners and experts in Europe and neighbouring areas. The Society for the Coast currently employs four members of staff. Its work concentrates on the Odra Delta Nature Park. The name Pomerania comes from Slavic po more, which means “land by the sea”.
Learning about the way Norwegian’s manage conflicts relating to the big carnivores was interesting and although the species differ, many of the issues relating to land use practices, particularly farming, were similar to those we experience in Scotland. Visiting the Dovrefjell and Rondane national parks provided an insight into the largely successful (thus far) arctic fox breeding station at Oppdal and the challenges and issues of managing such large and wide-ranging Reindeer herds.
Arch Network programme – Slovakia 2016 Our trip to Slovakia in May 2016 was part of the EU-funded programme, Erasmus+, and was organised by Archnetwork, a Scottish NGO whose role is to promote learning and development in natural and cultural heritage between Scotland and other European countries. Our entertaining and knowledgeable guide, driver and companion throughout the trip was Miro Knežo, the director of Krajina, a small organisation working in eco-tourism and cultural exchange. SECTION ONE: WILDLIFE AND BIODIVERSITY A vibrant landscape Nicky Langridge-Smith The lush Slovakian countryside, significantly further south than Scotland, was already well into spring when we arrived. The scale and diversity of the country’s immense forests, broken up by distinctly rural villages and rich meadows carpeted with wild flowers, stood out in vibrant contrast to the bare hillsides interspersed with uniform conifer plantations that dominate much of the uplands of Scotland. Slovakia is a landlocked country, with a population of 5.5 million contained within a landmass two-thirds the size of Scotland. It is rich in biodiversity, with an estimated, 40,000 species of plants and animals (Scotland’s figure 60,000 species includes 40,000 marine species). Slovakian wildlife includes 36 per cent of the mammal species, 9 per cent […]
Romania 19th – 26th September ‘Lime burning in Romania is part of an unbroken rural tradition which is at risk. The tradition of kiln building and lime burning is maintained by an increasingly older generation, with no apparent successors from younger generations appearing willing or trained to take over and secure its future. As a consequence, the production of lime in Meziad, a process which may well have continued almost unchanged since Roman times, is at risk of being lost within a few years. A further consequence may well be that the skills needed to use lime in the maintenance and repair of traditional buildings will also be lost’. (William Napier, NET Romania 2015). Lime (calcium oxide/hydroxide) is an ancient product – for maintaining heritage buildings it is an essential ingredient – used for mortar, paint and as a sterilising agent in stables, kitchens, etc. In Romania they still make lime in the way the Romans did – and they have proved it is a transferable skill by building a ‘cuptor’ in Cumbria and making 40 tonnes of high quality lime for heritage building restoration. The purity of the wood fired product and the fact that it achieves a much […]
LATVIA – 2015 Gauja River – Latvia As seen by; (left to right) Ewan Campbell (Scottish Natural Heritage), John McTague (Scottish Wildlife Trust), Sarah West (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds), Ian Stewart (Forest Enterprise Scotland), Rab Potter (Scottish Wildlife Trust), Kate Sampson (The National Trust for Scotland) This report provides feedback/information/reflections/musings and good sound advice* gleaned through a 7 day visit to Latvia from a small delegation from the bonny banks of….Scotland. *by no means do any members of the delegation guarantee that below advice is sound or good. Acknowledgements; Organised by – ARCH, Funded by – Erasmus +Programme, Hosted by – The Latvian State Forest Service. And a thanks to all the individuals that took time to present information and show us around the country. Natura 2000 site protection and implementation in Latvia – Ewan Campbell The main nature protection tools in Latvia are:- Specially protected nature sites (90% are classified as Natura 2000 sites); Micro Reserves including protection areas for Capercaillie, Black stork, Lesser spotted eagle, and specially protected habitats (20% are classified as Natura 2000 sites); Protection belts (buffers); and other specific nature protection requirements e.g. forestry regulations. The Natura 2000 network (SACs and/or SPAs) in […]
The Bulgarian NET study visit was hosted by the Devetaki Plateau Association with the help of the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation. The objective was to develop our understanding of biodiversity, designated sites, state environmental policies, environmental education and habitat/species management.
Key Objective: Living and working in a remote rural area in the far North of Scotland I applied to participate in the Cyprus Programme to see if there were any useful comparisons between the two countries to explore opportunities for sharing/learning from one another as to how best to incorporate traditional skills back into fiercely competitive economies.
Cyprus September 2015 Travelling to my birthplace, I have seen Cyprus from a different perspective looking at places I have been too before, with fresh eyes. I have seen slightly out of the way areas, cultural skills, well seen places and areas with added enthusiasm. This structured educational course funded by Erasmus+ programme and delivered by Archnetwork is looking at best practices in sustainable rural development and interpreting natural and cultural heritage in partnership with Kato Drys community. From what we have seen Kato Drys and Lefkara communities are trying to maintain their rich cultural practices that make up the fabric of their community, through continuing crafts and maintaining agricultural practices. Meeting just women as our hosts I am sure held no real significance, apart for me seeing Cypriot women so empowered, dynamic, enthusiastic and vocal in what they were presenting was a breath of fresh air. Cypriots were all very friendly and welcoming, we quickly realised that coffee and food is an important part of family life and is part of the culture here. Wherever we sat for food we were made to feel very welcome and it felt a bit like joining the family. The week was packed […]
September 2015 saw myself and four other cultural heritage professionals travel from Scotland to the island of Cyprus under the Erasmus+ cultural research exchange programme through ArchNetwork. The theme of the programme was entitled ‘Empowering Communities’ and took the form of a structured training course. Our home for the week was to be in Pano Lefkara and links were to be made with the Kato Drys community which had been a partner in the “Leonardo da Vinci – Development of Innovation” project from 2010 – 2013. Kato Drys is a community which specialises in sustainable development. I have two sides of why I had applied to be on this programme, the first being a museum professional with an interest in the culture of other areas and how they engage in their communities and secondly as a student of BSc Sustainable Development through University of the Highlands and Islands. I was fortunate to be able to travel from the far north of Scotland with one of the others on the trip which certainly made the journey easier and feel quicker! Our meeting point had been arranged at the airport with the rest of the group and the usual nerves abounded, would we […]
In September 2015, I was able to participate in a Erasmus+ cultural heritage exchange to the island of Cyprus. Our base camp for the trip was a set of apartments called Althlesi Heights in Pano Lefkara, a village in the south-west foothills of the Troodos Mountains. There were five of us who travelled on the trip and we all worked within heritage education and community outreach and were known in Cyprus as the “teachers”! The week long course looked at aspects of managing cultural assets in Cyprus and the empowerment of the local community through the management of their cultural heritage. The island of Cyprus has a rich history with continuous occupation periods including Neolithic, Phoenician, Minoan, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Frankish, Ottoman, Colonial British periods. The trip looked as several aspects of Cypriot culture; including mosaics, the historic domi (terraces) and lacemaking and how this can empower people in the local communities. Day One – Familiarisation Day Following a late arrival into Paphos airport on the Monday night, our first day was one that we spent familiarising ourselves with the village with the expert help of our host Martin Clark. We started with being shown the different types of foods […]
Learning about Lefkara Tuesday 15th September 2015. Our all-female, party of five had travelled from Scotland to engage with the Erasmus+ course, Empowering Communities in Cyprus. The group consisted of heritage & education professionals with definite interests museum practice, interpretation, learning and community engagement. Although, through the week other interests & skills would surface as we got to know each other. Day one consisted of some orientation. For me, this was a first visit to Cyprus although others in the group had been before & we even had the privilege an ex-pat, Cypriot in our number. I purposely had not researched my destination in advance of my travels, so I was coming to the Kato Drys municipality uniformed & ready to learn. We were staying in the village of Pano Lefkara. The village & surrounding area is renowned for it’s lace making, so much so, in 2009 it was recognised by UNESCO. Lefkara laces or Lefkaritika was added to the list of the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage . It also used to feature on a Cypriot bank note. We set off on foot to explore the village with our host, Martin Clark. Just by our lodgings we started with some foraging […]
About the Course “You should come back in May” was perhaps the phrase of the trip! We were told we’d see Slovakia’s biodiversity at its best in spring. The good news? For woodlands, we were there at the right time, or nearly so. But we were all really delighted with our experience of Slovakia’s biodiversity and countryside management, interpreted for us with skill and pride by our guides and host. This course in Slovakia took place in early September 2015, part of the EU funded strategy to support staff mobility, the Erasmus+ programme. The project is promoted in Scotland by ARCH (organised by the wonderful Libby Urquhart) based in Comrie. We were in the capable hands of Miro Knezo throughout our visit to Slovakia; Miro is the director of Krajina, a small organisation that works in eco-tourism, community development and cultural management. Miro is based in eastern Slovakia, the area of our visit. He acted as our driver, guide, translator and all round facilitator. Slovakia’s most recent incarnation as a nation began in 1993 when it and the Czech Republic amicably divorced, bringing Czechoslovakia to an end. But Slovakia has existed as a nation for a very long time, albeit […]
Lime Burning in Romania with Satul Verde By Jessica Hunnisett Snow and William Napier In August 2015, we were given the opportunity to travel to Meziad, a lime-burning village in Romania, and participate in the process of loading and firing a traditional kiln or ‘cuptor’ (Fig. 1 and 2), slaking the quicklime produced, and experimenting with the lime products for harling, limewashing and decorative painting (Fig. 3). The exchange visit was organised by ARCH in Scotland and hosted by Satul Verdi, the partner organisation in Romania. The trip was an Erasmus + funded Staff Education Project. As building surveyors with The National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland, organisations which collectively care for a large number of historic and traditionally constructed buildings, the main aim of the visit, apart from taking in the beautiful scenery and enjoying the local culture, was to see first-hand the production of lime, within a system that utilises local skills, labour and materials to produce a high quality and sustainable material, perfectly suited for the repair and maintenance of local vernacular buildings. Fig. 1 & 2 Loading and firing the cuptor with a local lime-burner Lime burning in Romania is part of an unbroken rural […]
The course ‘Investigating Traditional Lime Burning and Products’ was organised by ARCH Network in Scotland and Satul Verde in Romania. The course was funded by Erasmus+. For the week Monica Oprean from Satul Verde and Martin Clark from ARCH were our guides and transport, as well as the source of never ending information and stories. We were so grateful and appreciative for all they, and everyone we encountered, did for us and we carried out a small ceremony with gifts of thanks the day before we left. As we travelled from Cluj-Napoca we went through mountains, countryside, cityscapes and villages. We spent most of our time in the state of Bihor which is the border region between Romania and Hungary. Many of the people, foods, and languages we encountered were influenced by Hungarian traditions. To begin the report an introduction into our schedule for the week: Day one We arrive in Cluj-Napoca late and briefly meet the rest of the group from Grampus at the airport before going to the hotel for the night. First attempts at Romanian (very unsuccessful) in trying to buy some beer. Astounded at the low prices when converted to pounds, which was our first realisation into […]
Lime burning in Meziad is a family and village scale business. The limestone is burnt using renewable wood fuel at temperatures over eight hundred degrees Celsius for three days. Lime burning was once an important craft in the UK. The purity of the wood fired product and the fact that it achieves a much higher price than the factory made lime demonstrates there is still a window for old skills in a modern market.
Our journey started when we closed our front doors behind us, but the experience of Romania began when we landed at Cluj-Napoca late in the evening: fellow passengers burst into applause as the plane bumped onto the runway. Our guides, Martin Clark & Monica Oprean, welcomed us at the terminal. There were nine participants altogether: four from England and five from Scotland. In actuality it was a far more international group than this – the ‘English’ group consisted of one Briton, one American, one Greek and one Algerian. The ‘Scottish’ group contained two Britons, an American, a Scot and a South African. The next morning, we met to discuss the coming week. The itinerary was full: visits to two churches, an Hungarian village, a cave, forests, fields, water buffalo, local markets, as well as loading, stoking, and unloading the limekiln and painting a wall. As the week progressed, even more was shoehorned in – visits to a third church, a field barn, an underground glacier, and an antique trove. We squeezed into the two cars and set off towards the west and burgeoning cloud cover. A picnic had been planned, but by the time we arrived at Rimitea/Torocko, it had […]
Our week in West Pomerania was designed to give us an insight into as many different aspects of nature conservation as possible including state managed national parks and landscape parks, as well as nature reserves owned and managed by NGOs. The full programme gave us a feel for the biological richness of the area and the challenges facing both state and private interests who are managing these areas, often without secure funding and with constrained resources. The fact that membership of NGOs in Poland is very small compared to Scotland restricts both their resources and their ability to affect policy change. Given the size and resources available however, they play a very important role in direct land management and in catalysing new projects and approaches to conservation. Throughout the week we returned again and again to the importance of national boundary changes and land ownership after 1945, meaning that the communities living here do not have a cultural connection with the area. Historically this feeling of impermanence resulted in a reluctance to commit or invest in land management. The predominance of large state owned farms during the communist era and subsequent fall of that system also resulted in a lack […]
On our final day we visited the coast, staying in accommodation in Kamien Pomorski on the Zalew Kamienski, a large lagoon connected to the even larger Szczecin Lagoon. The lagoons are separated from the sea by only a narrow stretch of land and are saline due to connectivity with the sea via short channels. This contributes to a very interesting landform and ecology. The area has become a very popular area for tourism, with many Germans and Poles traveling to visit the attractive beaches and coastline. This popularity has contributed to the growth of a number of large settlements and contributes to relatively intense visitor pressure, particularly in areas near the coast. We visited the seaside resort of Miedzyzdroje, a settlement with a permanent population of only around 5000 people but with a much larger influx of visitors during holiday periods. The Wolinski National Park covers the area immediately East of Miedzyzdroje and managing the intense visitor pressure on the area is a key challenge for the national park authority. The national park authority has its headquarters in Miedzyzdroje and the headquarters complex includes a visitor centre. The visitor centre provides a popular wet weather tourist attractions and serves to […]
Our sixth day kicked off at the field office of the Society for the Coast, where we met with Dr. Małgorzata Torbé, project coordinator of the Odra Delta Nature Park. We were given an introduction to the park and its land management issues before heading out for a walk on site. The Society for the Coast was established in 1996 and delivers nature conservation of wetlands, environmental and nature education and community engagement. The charity owns the 1000 ha Nature Park, which is within the Natura 2000 network and contains actively managed meadows and pasture along the shore of the Szczecin Lagoon. Once again, this area has been heavily influenced by political and land use change. The meadow and pasture habitat was maintained by traditional farming methods such as grazing and mowing. However, the movement of German communities from the area after 1945 and the collapse of the state-owned-farms in the post-communist era led to land abandonment. Without active management, reeds dominated, the habitat degraded and biodiversity value dropped. The Society for the Coast has since reintroduced grazing using Polish Konik ponies and highland cattle and areas unsuitable for grazing are mown. We heard about recent significant investment in artificial […]
Early morning travel saw us arriving at the city of Szczecin in West Pomerania. The city is the regional capital, the gateway to the Baltic Sea and clearly a very important port for this part of Poland. We were delighted to discover that we were to board a small river cruiser and explore the hidden gems of the Odra (Oder) river and its network of islands. The Szczecin and Swinoujscie Port complex, the largest and most developed in Poland, is clearly an important part of the landscape and exerts a considerable influence on the city’s economy. Despite a decline in shipbuilding in recent decades, this industry survives and new ships were being built on the quayside as we passed. Passing through this busy port, we were uncertain how this industrial and shipping activity would affect the fragile habitats and wildlife of the Odra River. Our first impressions that a wildlife tour in close proximity to such an urban and industrial centre was unlikely to be spectacular was completely wrong. Within ten minutes of setting off we were greeted with unbelievable views of white-tailed eagles, right on the edge of the city’s river complex. Dense vegetated islands make an ideal breeding […]
The horror of what people have to go through during times of war is often difficult to contemplate and we are fortunate that most of us will never have to experience this. It is undeniable however that war can have a significant impact on the way a landscape is shaped, and an examination of Cedynia Landscape Park cannot be separated from what happened in World War II. Our visit to this area therefore started with a trip to the National Remembrance Museum to enable us to understand the impact the war had on this area, which still affects the landscape today. The Oder River (Odra in Polish) now forms the Germany/Poland border. However prior to the war, this area was part of eastern Germany and during the war the river formed an important barrier for the Soviet army to cross as they advanced on Berlin. As a result, there were several battles at crossing points along the river, as soldiers struggled to build bridges that would allow machinery to cross (the image shows a suit used by soldiers to cross the river while building bridges). The fascinating displays in the museum provided an indication of what it must have been […]
Day one began with a journey from the airport at Poznan to Slonsk and the headquarters of the Ujscie Warty National Park. There we met the Park Director, Konrad Wypychowski, and were given a number of presentations on the administration and history of nature conservation in Poland, as well as an introduction to the habitats and species of the National Park. The context for nature conservation in Poland differs considerably from that of Scotland in terms of administrative structure. The tiers of administration include 16 Voyvodships (provinces) down to 2479 communities. This appears to result in more local decision making on some aspects of land management. Poland has 23 National Parks and these offer a very high level of protection across nearly 10% of the country. Ujscie Warty National Park is now 14 years old and was established in 2001 in an existing Landscape Park (a designation with less stringent controls). However, the area’s importance has been recognised since 1977 when the Slonsk Reserve was established and through designation as a RAMSAR site in 1984. After entry into the EU, the area was designated as a Natura 2000 site. The area is an amazingly rich wetland mosaic comprising polders, reedbeds […]
A special mention must be given to the Troyan Museum of Crafts. This is an excellent museum at all levels. Situated in a building with a long history of its own, it details the history of the folk crafts of the region including textiles, pottery, metalwork and woodturning. The arrangement of the exhibits is chronological and the information detailed and accessible to all age groups. All the exhibits have detailed information about their place in both the geography and history of the region and give a good understanding of the development of land use in the region. Visitors can choose the level of detail they wish to achieve with a selection of ‘apps’ being available to those who wish to see more about how people actually worked in the sector. This facility is particularly attractive for school groups. I would love to be able to take my students to visit, to demonstrate what can be done. The National Exhibition of crafts in Oreshak provided a good complementary visit.
As we entered, a choir struck up in the gallery and the sonorous tones of eastern sacred music filled the colossal space within. A service was on-going. There are no pews in Orthodox churches, the congregation standing or sitting along the wall benches. The air was thick with incense and the priest chanted as the choir sang. This was all very alien to me! The whole atmosphere took on a strangely hypnotic feel which was quite, in my opinion, unsettling. I noticed people; heads bowed and in tears, moved utterly in the midst of devotion to their faith and God. Two women in particular caught my attention; they were dressed very soberly and wore traditional headscarves. They sat on wall benches and rocked back and forwards, eyes closed in what appeared to be a sort of devotional trance. It all began to feel a bit oppressive and I went back out into the air and light. Faith and I have never been easy bedfellows
In July 2015, I took part in the NET funded Cultural and Historical Heritage Exchange in Bulgaria. Having never been so far East previously, I was really looking forward to this trip to discover a new culture and to get inspiration in my own work in heritage and culture. I arrived at the airport to meet my travelling companions. None of us really had any prior knowledge of the country, apart from two of our group who had visited Bulgaria in the 1970s, when it must have been a very different place. Arriving in Sofia in the early evening was a good way to acclimatise to the weather (apparently lots of countries experience consistent summer months – just not Scotland!). We met with our bags, our itineraries and lots of trepidation for the trip ahead. Velis met us at the airport and Ivo drove us to the hotel in Sofia and pretty soon it became apparent that this trip was going to be full of inspiring visits and interesting and welcoming encounters. Velis took us for a walk around the centre of Sofia that night and we visited the church of Sveta Pedka, the statue of Sofia, the old Communist […]
In July I took part in a structured study visit to Bulgaria visiting a wide range of cultural sites covering the full spectrum of cultural heritage: historic buildings and towns; archaeological sites; museums; traditional crafts and skills; and intangible heritage and traditions. My own profession is in art with an interest in architecture ancient and modern. The study visit offered a great opportunity to observe and learn about Bulgaria’s artistic and cultural heritage dating from the prehistoric finds held in museum collections, from Roman and Thracian archaeological sites visited, right up to current output from working artists in craft and fine art by studio visits (Milko Dachev, painter and Encho Gankovski, Ceramic artist). For me as an artist it was a great privilege to visit artists in their studios especially to find Encho, ceramic artist using similar hand-building techniques as my own albeit with different aesthetic influences. The celebration and preservation of traditional crafts have not been abandoned in Bulgaria. Artists continue to keep traditional craft practice alive in pottery, woodwork, braid, silversmith, etc. near Gabrovo, in the Etara architectural ethnographic complex. This is an open air museum; a recreated working village, with architecture style typical in the Bulgarian Renaissance […]
A report of a NET visit to Bulgaria 2015 Introduction EARLY SATURDAY MORNING 11 July I set off to meet seven other people from similar professional backgrounds to my own, the arts, culture and heritage. All of us, in one way or another, involved in providing interpretation and learning for those who visit or interact with our respective organizations. We were chosen by Archnetwork in Scotland, part of Project NET, for an Erasmus+ funded Staff Education course in Bulgaria. The European Erasmus+ courses are to help transfer ideas and spread knowledge and good practice throughout the continent. It is a worthy ideal, and as a former academic now working in heritage learning, one I fully subscribe to. The aim of this visit is for us to come to understand the cultural impacts of ancient peoples on contemporary societies and how their ancient skills are still applicable today. But first we would have to see for ourselves the legacies of ancient Thracian, Macedonian and Roman cultures on art and architecture by means of the archaeology and ethnography of the places we visited, of which there turned out to be no shortage. We would also look at the history of the local peoples, […]
“There are some wonderful, passionate and committed people working to protect our biodiversity”. This report on the Slovenian exchange is contained in a single PDF file.
Erasmus+ Structured Training Course Devetaki Plateau Association ‘Understanding the cultural impact of ancient peoples and applying ancient skills’ Bulgaria 11th – 19th July 2015 My first visit to Bulgaria was in late summer 1974 as part of a trip I made through Eastern Europe. I was just about to enter my fourth and final year at Glasgow School of Art but was unsure about what career I wished to pursue. Crossing from the Danube Delta in Romania we spent some time by the Black Sea before heading inland and stopping at the ancient town of Tornovo: This made an immediate impression on me and helped cement my developing interest in smaller historic towns, their history and how they might be conserved and managed. Sofia I found a bit more overwhelming and quite unlike anywhere I had ever visited before: At that time I was also particularly struck by the music we heard as we travelled – Bulgarian folk music was pumped out of speakers on lampposts and played in railway and bus stations. On one occasion I fell asleep to the sound of women walking home past our camp site singing traditional songs in unison. I liked what I […]
An impressive 87% of the land area of Finland is forest, comprising 66% productive (over 20m ha) and 11% old growth (mostly, but not all, protected). Approximately 24% of the forest belongs to the state, while the remainder is privately owned. 60% of the forests are family owned. The reason for this high proportion of family ownership can be traced back to the independence years of Finland. Prior to independence from Russia in 1917, land was largely owned by the nobility. By 1922 the government conducted a land reform in which these large holdings were taken by the government, broken up and sold to tenant farmers and landless labourers. Forests have been passing down the generations ever since, with owners comprising both the farmer/forester and city dwellers. The average forest property is 30ha, but can be as small as 0.5ha. However, in doing so the land was often divided in long strips to ensure the new owners had a roughly even mix of land quality. The result, which survives to this day, is a largely linear arrangement of property boundaries, to the extent that some properties are ‘locked’ in by those properties surrounding it, isolated from access routes, and sometimes […]
Bird Conservation and Habitat Management Written by Pardeep Chand (Biodiversity Projects Officer, North Lanarkshire Council) Poland is a country rich in natural heritage. My initial impressions of Poland when driving from Poznań Airport to Słońsk were of a land dominated by large swathes of agricultural countryside intersected by large areas of woodland. The pockets of woodland and linear belts were impressive; impressive in that it provided significant wildlife corridors for dispersal as well as providing habitat connectivity through agricultural land. The scale of forested land alongside agriculture is greater than that in the UK. Approximately 30% of Poland is afforested, compared to 12% in the UK. Poland is a country of approximately 332,000km with a population of 39 million. It is split into 16 provinces, or Vovoidships, as they are known in Poland. During this trip we visited habitats associated with the Odra River in West Pomerania region, in particular wetland systems. My particular interest lies in ornithology and wetland habitat management. This Nature Exchange, organised by ‘Society For The Coast’, allowed for a detailed insight into nature conservation issues in Poland and visited some key wetland sites not only in Poland but also in Europe. Poland has a […]
During our first trip to the hills around Lefkara, to see ancient olive grows with trees of around 1000 years old or more, it soon became evident that Cyprus, like the UK, is a prosperous country with an aspiring and educated population that no longer want to continue working on the land when they can earn higher salaries in other vocations. Thus traditional farming practices that are no longer economic to maintain will die out and the cultural landscape will change. Whether or not these changes may or may not be of benefit to biodiversity was discussed along with ways in which new farming and land-use methods may help to preserve the current landscape of ancient olive groves over pasture. The labour on these farms today is imported from India and elsewhere, we saw shepherds from the Punjab herding goats in the area we visited. Like Scotland, Cyprus is aiming to increase the percentage of woodland cover from around 18% to 25% but no timescale is set for this. Unlike in Scotland it hopes to do this with predominantly native planting and has a policy of no new non-native planting outside of municipal areas. This will be great […]
Our host was Marius Kjonsberg. He played an active role in wildlife management and was a keen hunter. He was very informed, knowledgeable and interested in how we did things in Scotland. Our other guide, Floris, had an intimate knowledge of and passion for the wildlife of Norway and was a very talented and enthusiastic guide and photographer. We are very grateful to both for their energy, commitment, knowledge, enthusiasm and sense of fun. We were given talks by other students and staff based at Evenstad to whom we are also grateful.
The Nature Exchange provided us with an opportunity to see first hand the management effort applied in various forests to create a diversity of habitats and encourage a wide variety of species. It also demonstrated the variety of access options to the countryside. The species and the evidence of same that we encountered on our visits were truly amazing. One member of our group is a keen ornithologist and he kept an account of what he and we saw. We were very interested to learn more about how environmental education was delivered in Finland and to visit the world’s leading forestry research station Hyytiälän. <a href="http://www.archnetwork.eu/pages/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/ARCH-Trainer-Exchange-10-Finland-Team-Report-May-2013 discount levitra online.pdf”>Finland Team Report May 2013
West Pomeranian Province Isabel Morgan, Lorna Dow, Eric Reitveld, Sarah West, Angela Lloyd 1.0 Introduction (Isabel Morgan – RSPB) The 2012 Nature Exchange program to Poland focused on the West Pomeranian Province, an area of Poland that, until 1945, was part of Germany. The group spent the week visiting different conservation areas in the province. During this time the group learnt about the management of the conservation areas as well as the difficulties, natural history and conflicts of each conservation area. Areas visited include the Society for the Coasts (EUCC-PL) Odra Delta Nature park, Wolinski National Park, Odra River Landscape Park, Swindie Protected Area and Ujscie Warta National Park. 1.1 POLAND An Overview Poland is situated between those countries which traditionally make up East and West Europe, sharing borders with Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, the Baltic States and the Baltic Sea. It has as population of 39 million people and is split into 16 Provinces. The country has experienced massive social and political changes in recent times. The most significant of these changes being the border changes in 1945 after WW2, the rejection of the communist values in 1989 and most recently Poland’s […]
At first glance, Latvia is a land of forests and woodlands – some natural, pristine and undisturbed, while others are expertly managed for the benefit of biodiversity, access, recreation and timber production. Interspersed among the forests are many farms and homesteads, managing the land in a welcome low-intensive way and many with their own special white stork nest in the heart of the farm complex. This intrinsic link with the natural world and the tolerance of farming towards wildlife – even some large predators which are not always welcome in Scotland – was a revelation. We were all struck by the extensively rural economy out with the main settlements and the connection the bulk of the population still had with working and caring for the land. From gathering firewood to digging up potatoes in patchwork fields, the links of the people to the land were pronounced. The following link will download our Joint Report Latvia_2013
Participants of previous visits talk about their experiences. Richard Thompson This report describes the wooded landscapes of central and southern Slovenia visited during the 2013 ARCH Network study tour. This tour was funded by the Leonardo da Vinci Lifelong Learning Programme, promoted by ARCH and hosted by Vitra. A varied programme was arranged for the week by Bojan Znidarsic, our impassioned, energetic, thoughtful, knowledgeable and genial leader. Bojan is the main man at Vitra and, along with Libby in Scotland, has now organised 10 of these trips. Bombarded with questions all week, he did not grumble but made learning fun and memorable. Bojan knows an excellent range of warm friendly and extremely knowledgeable folk who worked with him to make our visit enjoyable, informative and memorable. We stayed in a wonderful, friendly and relaxed guest house in Markovec ran by wild life photographer Miha Mlahar who entertained us with pictures of Brown Bear that he had taken locally, in recent days. There are many other Slovenian people to thank for making this trip unforgettable. These include Miriam Mikulic (state forester in the Kocevska region), Judita Unetic (Begunje woodland guide and welcoming hostess) and Janja Urbiha and her colleagues from the […]
Capercaillie in Vosges. Joint Report The exchange was hosted by Arnaud Hurstel of Groupe Tetras Vosges (GTV) in France. The purpose of the trip was to look at the status of the capercaillie population in the Vosges Mountains and the LIFE project “Forests for Capercaillie in the Vosges”. We visited several capercaillie sites, including Special Protection Areas (Natura 2000) and National Nature Reserves for capercaillie, as well as state and private forests within the Vosges. During these site visits we met many people that were actively involved in capercaillie conservation. The main topics that were discussed were conservation and management measures for capercaillie with regard to forest biodiversity, timber production, recreational activities, tourism and hunting. This report gives a daily account from the participants of each day’s discussions.
There is currently considerable interest in re-introducing the European Beaver (Castor fiber) back to Scotland, reflected in the reintroduction trial that is currently taking place in Knapdale Forest in Argyll, and public reaction to the population of beavers on Tayside that have arisen from escapes from private collections. Archnetwork secured funding via the Leonardo da Vinci programme to send six people from Scotland on a fact finding study tour to Bavaria from 16th to 23rd October 2012. The aim of the tour was to develop a fuller understanding of how beavers were managed in Bavaria, and what lessons could then be implemented in Scotland. The Bavarian situation is regarded by many people as being similar to Scotland, with the system of beaver management being something that we might wish to copy. We wished to ascertain if this was indeed the case or if this assumption was misplaced. The six people who went on the trip represented a wide range of interests and skill sets. They were: Victor Clements, a self employed woodland advisor based in Aberfeldy in Highland Perthshire; Dr Aylwin Pillai, a lecturer in environmental law at Aberdeen University who has taken a particular interest in European protected species […]
Our introduction to Park Narodowy Ujście Warty (Warta Mouth National Park) was that of a grey polder landscape at early dawn that was more audible than visible. We could hear the distant sounds of geese and, the reason for being there at that hour, cranes. Standing on one of the dikes, which signified the polder landscape, we counted up to 1200 cranes in the coming hours. While the relatively small flocks of cranes flew over, unaware of the fact that they were being recorded…
On day 1 we stopped in Ciclova Romana and Manuela went to collect sheep’s cheese. It was as if we’ve stepped back in time: green grass transported by horse drawn cart, hens pecking about, a cock crowing and the smell of mown hay and dung. When I went to primary school in the early 60s we passed a field with the last working horse; all farms had tractors by then. We hardly saw farm machinery in this part of Romania. Ten yards after the village of Ciclova Romana ends Ciclova Montana begins. We stayed there in a village house, within walking distance of forests, meadows and the Cheile Nerei-Beusnita National Park. We tried local produce and experienced some rhythms of village life, as we ate our first meal we heard bells from cows being driven home for milking. One day the water pump broke and we brought in water from the well in the garden and used the toilet there which emptied into the river rushing past.
The group was intrigued to learn that forestry age is measured differently in Bulgaria where the mean age of trees is used rather than the length of time the area has been afforested. This is due to the influence of other European countries where a more holistic approach through continuous forestry methods are adopted. This is unlike Scottish forestry which is still in the infancy of this and mostly managed on a financial /accountancy basis. The oldest tree in the park was a 500 year old beech. The group asked several questions about deer but it was apparent there was no problem with high densities due to a combination of factors, primarily predation by wolves and anthropogenic hunting. One of the rangers stated that there were probably less than one deer per 100 ha. The hunting in the region is managed by local hunting groups and licenses are issued by the Ministry for Food and Agriculture.
Houses in nearby villages are simpler in style, with wooden or metal doors often the only parts decorated. Roman and Turkish influences can be imagined. On day 1 we stopped in Ciclova Romana and Manuela went to collect sheep’s cheese from behind such a door. It was as if we’ve stepped back in time: green grass transported by horse drawn cart, hens pecking about, a cock crowing and the smell of mown hay and dung. When I went to primary school in the early 60s we passed a field with the last working horse; all farms had tractors by then. We hardly saw farm machinery in this part of Romania. Ten yards after the village of Ciclova Romana ends Ciclova Montana begins. We stayed there in a village house, within walking distance of forests, meadows and the Cheile Nerei National Park. We tried local produce and experienced other aspects of village life, e.g. as we ate our first meal we heard bells from cows being driven home for milking. One day the water pump broke and we brought in water from the well in the garden and used the toilet there (which may have emptied into the river which rushed […]
Nature Exchange 2011 – Large Mammals in Norway – Final Report View this report as PDF. The visit was hosted by Hedmark University College at the Department of Forestry and Wildlife Management. Hedmark County in south-east Norway. A joint report by, Colin Bean, Craig Borthwick, Grant Carson, Donald McCuaig, Graham Neville, David Sutherland and John Taylor June 2011
Haymaking was happening everywhere we travelled across Transylvania in Romania, from the outskirts of the city of Timisoara to the heart of the Apuseni Mountains, a few days before midsummer in June 2011. Wooden carts pulled by glossy chestnut brown horses trundled along the roads, laden with loose piles of fresh green hay. From first light to dusk, groups of two or three people laboured in the small rectangular fields, using wooden forks and rakes to turn and gather in the hay, tossing it up into conical stacks built around a central wooden support. This might be a sturdy forked branch stuck upright in the soil, a tripod or four-legged frame, or a post with several cross-bars nailed together, the top invariably poking out above the haystack like a short mast.
The objective of the Nature Exchange visit to eastern Slovakia was to provide opportunities for those who are involved in training in Scotland to exchange experience and best practice of nature conservation through the framework of the ‘Leonardo da Vinci’ programme of the European Commission.