(C)=cultural (N)=natural There is some crossover between disciplines

Country Dates Partner
Bulgaria 30th April – 7th May 2017 Devetaki Plateau Association (C)
Norway 25th – 31st May 2017 Evenstad University (N)
Slovakia 25th – 31st May 2017 Krajina and High Tatras National Park (N)
Estonia NEW 5th -22nd May 2017 NE Estonia – The Estonian National Museum (C)
Iceland 1st – 8th June 2017 Fornverkaskólinn Turf Building (C)
Slovenia 05th – 11th July 2017 Vitra Centre for Sustainable Development (N)
Romania 22nd -29th August 2017 Satul Verde (Green Village) (N)
Poland 26th Jul – 01st Aug 2017 EUCC and Ujscie Warta National Park (N)
Latvia 1st – 07th September 2017 Latvia State Forest Service (N)
Cyprus 14th -21st September 2017 Kato Drys Municipality (C)
Finland 18th-24nd September 2017 Tampere University.
Norway 2015 Joint Report
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Norway 2015 Joint Report

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.

Forestry in Finland – 2nd-9th May 2015
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Forestry in Finland – 2nd-9th May 2015

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.

Forests, Mountains & Wildlife in Eastern Slovakia
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Forests, Mountains & Wildlife in Eastern Slovakia

The course themes were far ranging, from large carnivore management, including hunting legislation and how people live with together with these animals as neighbours; forestry adaptations to climate change, covering the wind storm in the High Tatras, where the bark beetle is now thriving to the detriment of the forest; forestry methods, namely horse logging where is was  a huge advantage having our very own horse logger to explain how the methods were similar to that in Scotland and across Europe.

Group Report, Introduction, Conclusions & Learning Points
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Group Report, Introduction, Conclusions & Learning Points

We have returned home from our trip to Bulgaria refreshed with new ideas and an insight into how other European countries approach connecting communities with their natural and historical environment. Bulgaria takes a holistic approach by including arts, heritage, festivals, folklore and history into their engagement around our natural and cultural heritage. They encourage their citizens to engage in crafts using inspiration from the natural world, to appreciate the intrinsic value of nature and to conserve special places for future generations.

Hand Working and Crafting – an integral part of Bulgarian Culture and Heritage
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Hand Working and Crafting – an integral part of Bulgarian Culture and Heritage

Our short but fabulous visit to central Bulgaria, demonstrated without any doubt that the Bulgarian people maintain, and continue to foster, a deep and genuine respect for their identity through their cultural heritage. Their high regard for ancient traditional skills and crafts are embraced with a proud consideration, and this is ultimately clearly demonstrated by the way they incorporate ancient traditional skills and crafts into modern day life.

Plums, people and how not to lose our connection with nature
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Plums, people and how not to lose our connection with nature

The challenge for the people that live in the small houses, farms, villages and towns within and around the Central Balkan National Park and on the Devetaki Plateau is to keep their connection with nature. To hang on to it whilst embarking on the journey to market and promote their diverse heritage. To enjoy it and allow others to do so as development and tourism in this fascinating country inevitably grows.

Nature as our inspiration
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Nature as our inspiration

The trip has also given me ideas of what festivals I could consider planning around peatlands – incorporating things like folk music and culture like we saw with the Plum Festival on the first day. These seasonal festivals provide a link back to nature, its products and its importance to local communities.

Combining Creativity with Wildlife Conservation
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Combining Creativity with Wildlife Conservation

Through combining both of these aspects into the trip, which are perhaps often seen somewhat as contrasting ways to understand the biodiversity, whilst additionally learning about the rich history and traditions of the country, this has provided a valuable insight into how well-rounded disseminating information can be done, integrating many perspectives for understanding the environment into a single day alone to link together and catch the attention of visitors when communicating conservation to the public.