(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.
Finnish Forests, Hunting & Capercaillie
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Finnish Forests, Hunting & Capercaillie

“We have around 500,000 capercaillie in Finland ” said Tapio Vähä-Jaakkola, our host at a local hunting club, as our jaws dropped. My colleagues Chris and Molly from RSPB work on capercaillie and the population in Scotland is in a pretty sorry state, having dropped to around 2000, from an estimated 20,000 in the 1970s. Capercaillie populations are healthy enough for Finns to hunt tens of thousands of them a year.  “Most of the capercaillie hunting takes place in Northern Finland”, Tapio said later. In the 10,000 hectares of forest controlled by the Metsästysseura Haukka Ry hunting club, they hadn’t shot capercaillie for many years “Last year we calculated that there were enough capercaillie for us to hunt two.”

Wetland & Coastal Management in the Odra Delta – a model for Mersehead?
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Wetland & Coastal Management in the Odra Delta – a model for Mersehead?

It was a great opportunity to be able to spend a week looking at the various types of parks and reserves in the Odra Delta and seeing the benefits and challenges of each. I think we were all blown away by how rich and diverse the wildlife and landscapes are, not just within the protected areas, but in the general landscape of the region as a whole.

The main issues facing protected areas and wildlife in general in Poland seems to be a familiar one, lack of funding, staffing and awareness, which is all too familiar a problem in the UK as well. Due to Poland’s history, many people do not feel a connection to the land and so one of the results is that volunteering is nearly non-existant, which is a shame as this could be a rich source of help that is currently unavailable. It will also be interesting to see how the reserves will cope with climate change; increased pressure from predation and invasive species is tied in to this (as seen at Ujscie Warty NP) and subsequently pressure on staff time and funding for projects to deal with this. Hopefully the diversity of the landscapes means that they are slightly more resilient than they are here in the UK and that people can be inspired to protect the amazing wildlife and landscape that they currently have.

Woodland Regeneration & Grazing in South West Norway
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Woodland Regeneration & Grazing in South West Norway

It was amazing to explore the regenerating forests in SW Norway and to understand better how native forests can develop with a lower browsing pressure.

Deer management practices differ between Norway and Scotland, with carcass weights used to determine deer quotas in Norway, indicating the overall health of the population and helping to balance its impacts on woodland regeneration.

Cultural and social factors have influenced the woodland regeneration we saw, from the abandonment of farms over the 20th Century to the different attitudes to hunting, foraging and land-use in Norway.

The diversity of species and structure in the Norwegian forest sets an example for us to aspire to in Scotland, and we need to consider how to integrate a rebounding forest within Scotland’s cultural and social setting.

Forestry, Biodiversity & Conservation in Finland
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Forestry, Biodiversity & Conservation in Finland

Natural regeneration was abundant nearly everywhere we visited, something which is comparatively unusual in Scotland unless it is enclosed within a deer fence. Regeneration was so prevalent in some locations that it was encroaching into previously open habitats, such as small fields of abandoned farms. A strong hunting culture and associated herbivore management within Finland appears to the main cause for natural regeneration within Finnish forests.

The Comeback of An Apex Predator: Could Scotland Learn from Norway?
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The Comeback of An Apex Predator: Could Scotland Learn from Norway?

Geographical Connectivity is the Natural Key
Norway has had a natural recolonization of all carnivores, due to be part of the continent Europe and neighbour countries fluxes. First wolves recolonized in 1980 to the south, through dispersion of the first wolves by likely Finish-Russian populations.  The geographical position of the UK being an island doesn’t allow natural recolonization, and therefore it leaves the question to wether we could or we should intervene

Traditional Buildings & Community Heritage in Lišov
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Traditional Buildings & Community Heritage in Lišov

The purpose of this report is to share the knowledge I gained while working with the Lišov Múzeum in October 2019. As a member of the Technical Outreach and Education team at The Engine Shed, I wanted to focus on the traditional building materials and skills, as well as the importance of community engagement in Lišov.
This report is primarily visual, with key points written out. The idea behind this is to be able to share this information with colleagues, or others who may be interested, in an accessible format. The ability to share information visual and through activities or tactile learning is important to our team and for our work with the public.

The Hierarchy of Protected Areas in Poland & Comparison with Scotland
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The Hierarchy of Protected Areas in Poland & Comparison with Scotland

The level of protection afforded to different types of protected area in Poland is not dissimilar to that in Scotland. For example, in terms of the Natura 2000 network all EU countries have an obligation to transpose the Habitats and Birds Directives into domestic legislation. Similarly, in Scotland and Poland, regulatory authorities and have their own responsibilities.

I think the main difference in the protect areas protection measures between Poland and Scotland is the level of public promotion and access provision.

In Scotland we actively advertise our protected areas at whatever level but in Poland this is much more subtle even where public access provision is encouraged.

The trip to Poland was truly fascinating in many respects and one would hope that western influences do not put pressures on the natural heritage we experience in Scotland and the UK as a whole.

Exploring Community Heritage in Southern Slovakia
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Exploring Community Heritage in Southern Slovakia

I was especially interested in the ethnographic display in the museum which included some flax heckling boards. I have been working on an 18th century flax mill near Glasgow and so it was great to see how the hand heckling technique worked. One handle was for the foot and the other for one hand. The flax was then thrashed against the heckling spikes to straighten the flax fibres ready for spinning. This technique would have been used in Scotland prior to the construction of water mills. Apparently there were a couple of water mills in Lišov in the 19th century, but they have been demolished. Corn mills were often used for other purposes such as flax mills and saw mills. Flax was grown in this area in the past and according to Jacob there are old flax soaking ponds in the area.

Greetings from Bulgaria: workplace posts for the National Lottery Heritage Fund
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Greetings from Bulgaria: workplace posts for the National Lottery Heritage Fund

This is one of the faces of Walltopia – a Bulgaria company and a global leader in climbing wall manufacture. It belongs to the Mountain Guides training school in Troyan on the Devistashko Plateau, established in 2013. Marco, one of the teachers here, tells us that students arrive aged 14, and leave six years later with a range of skills including cultural tourism, mountain biking skills, navigation and first aid.

A Tale of Two Forests – Comparing Forests and Conservation in Finland and Scotland
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A Tale of Two Forests – Comparing Forests and Conservation in Finland and Scotland

I went to Finland with an idea to compare the forests there with those in Scotland and, more specifically, with that found at Abernethy. It became apparent, however, that such a comparison was unrealistic. The context of the forests, geographically, culturally and historically, are totally different. Finland is roughly 5 times the size of Scotland and is 75% forested. The population is approximately the same in both countries. This has meant that huge areas of Finnish forest are never, or incredibly rarely, disturbed by human activity. Historically, effectively all of Scotland’s forests have been managed as commercial plantations, especially following the Second World War. This meant a huge reduction in the size of the forest and large areas of forest consisting of uniform trees the same age and size. Finland has greater areas of old growth, natural forest which has never been managed by humans. Culturally, the natural world appears to garner much more respect in Finland than in Scotland with visitors much less likely to actively damage the forest or wilfully disturb wildlife. Regular fire sites and camping huts mean that visitors have designated places to eat, sleep and light fires. Much of the way the Finnish people treat and manage their forests provide a glimpse of how Abernethy could be however it felt to me that we are simply a couple of generations behind.