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.
This film records the ARCH visit to Eastern Slovakia in May 2018
Group report from the 2018 group who visited Evenstad in Norway. You can read their newspaper report here in Pdf format evenstad-echo-11.pdf
The participants of the Cyprus visit take part in the great Adobe brick making contest, and along the way encounter silver smiths, mosaic artists, lace makers, and pottery makers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So what lessons to draw? That deer numbers have to be significantly reduced if we are ever to restore our environment and its wildlife in Scotland, is hardly a revelation. But the destination – where rich, native forests are compatible with human needs and where people have a real connection with nature – should surely be one worth striving for.
This gives an idea of how connected folk were in the past with where plants grew, when they flowered, when they set seed, and what beneficial properties they reputedly had in days before mass-produced pharmaceuticals were available.
I found it particularly inspiring that the Devetaki Plateau Association, as a small collective, could reach beyond its own borders and the EU to find support for its mission in the Swiss & American agencies discussed earlier. Although we can hardly compare the wealth of Scotland to that of Bulgaria, I can’t help but wonder whether the challenges we could all face from Brexit may see us reach out to partners beyond our own conservation neighbourhood.
Whilst this is just one example of cultural heritage as green infrastructure, we encountered numerous others. From traditional barrel making to organic production of medicinal herbs (linked to rigorous scientific analysis and development); from an environment that invites you to swim in every lake, river and seashore… …to foraged berries and fresh meals cooked with fresh food every day – our daily experiences and memories made were based on the health and integrity of the environment around us and its place in culture and history. Without this we would not have found the social cohesion in our group that came about from sitting by the river in the evenings blethering away, listening for wolf calls at night, or stargazing under the Milky Way.
The basics of construction were taught as incidental in the wider aims of learning about turf-building through building with turf. Questions were answered through instruction, so the builder was learning whilst doing. This is a practical approach which suited our group of enthusiastic and driven individuals. With an abundance of written and specific information available about the methods of turf building, it was more accessible to simply give it a go without being too precious about the exactitudes required in other construction methods.
Day 1 of turf building at Tyrfingsstaðir with Helgi Sigurðsson of Fornverk ehf: Our brief for the week was to help with construction of “The Smokehouse”, a small rectangular building made of simple round pole timbers and to be used for meat smoking in the future. This was part of a complex of turf buildings belonging to the family who still worked the land, the matriarch Kristin having been born in the main turf house before moving into the modern house now standing close by. The turf buildings have since become a place for tourists to visit and for students of turf such as ourselves to practice building.
The training courses that do exist and are developing will probably suffice to educate enough people to retain political will and technical understanding to continue this for future generations. I hope that turf building techniques can be encouraged and somehow integrated with modern building techniques to grow the cultural identity and the important historic link that turf has to the Iceland people. I suspect that it is only through a modern reinvention that turf will in anyway become anything more than a museum piece which will sadly loose relevance in time and its importance in the landscape will be lost.
Sunday 9th September, Day 6 Ecology of mires and peatlands in Finnish forestry and Forest industry and Local development.(SB) On Sunday we met Senior Lecturer Pirjo Puustjärvi at the University of Applied Sciences having given Miia the day off! Natural regeneration on the bog We were off to see the bog and mire habitats of Lakkasuo peatlands which have never been drained and are owned by the University. We ensured that our heads were covered up and headed off into the woods on the duck boards we’d come to associate with Finland’s watery environment. We walked through spruce and alder woodlands as the trees (Spruce and Scots Pine) became less dense and the bogs and mires (blanket bog) more obvious – to a depth of 4metres! Blanket bog is one of the rarest habitats in the world. Finland is home to 10,000,000 hectares of different bog habitats, created by glacial activity over the millennia. It was explained that normally we’d hardly be able to even see the duck boards but due to the drought conditions of this year’s summer we could see all of them. They were initially put in in 1965 by students otherwise we’d not be able to […]
Following our exciting excursions into the culture of Tampere we drove to collect Eveliina and spend an evening at Puurijarvi-Isosuo National Park which in ways paralleled the frenetic and the calm of Tampere. Our first stop was at a viewing platform where within moments we all had our binoculars trained on a marsh harrier. When Eveliina succeeded in dragging us away from this platform we walked to the viewing tower to await the cranes…
Environmental protection is a relatively new concept in Finland with the ministry for environment being formed in 1982 following decades of escalating protests but as with many countries the probable driving force to actual change can be linked to the economic value of forestry being threatened when international players such as Greenpeace and the WWF stepped into boycott Finish timber.
Finns consider forests as urban parks. The area we visited is well used, with a café and plenty of runners and walkers around. The woodland is managed by the City of Tampere municipality and it is managed for the people who use it. The City of Tampere municipality have a land use plan, and as part of that the local development is managed, as well as operations such as the assessment of the effect of tree cutting. We noted plenty of litter bins but hardly any littering on the ground. There is little bit of graffiti and no dog poo bags left in the woods! Our Scottish urban site managers have been very impressed by the lack of litter compared to Scotland.
While we were there we sat in on a class with children who had additional support needs. The class were learning about Finland’s Everyman’s Right, the code for the outdoors and something the Finnish people are very proud of. Eva, our host, said that this is the basis for outdoor education in Finland; to learn to respect the countryside from the first explorations into it.
The 70-80 year old forest we visited was owned, like many forests in Finland, by a variety of private owners, in this instance including Tampere City Council. Dr Jenni Kokkarinen, lecturer at Tampere University of Applied Sciences provided the group with an introduction to forestry practices in Finland. To all intent and purposes Finland’s timber industry features four main tree species – Norway spruce (Picea abies), Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), silver birch (Betula pendula) and aspen (Populus tremula).
The next stop at Seitseminen was a visit to a patch of old growth forest – perhaps the catalyst for the Park’s creation – and a chance to see what “original” forest might look like in Finland. Surprisingly, we found it strikingly similar to non-old growth forest! Low species diversity in the canopy (Scots pine, Norway spruce, aspen, silver birch, grey alder), all the trees were telegraph pole straight with no large side branches and hardly any “characterful” trees, as we get in many Scottish woods (e.g. Granny pines).
North-west Poland (West Pomerania) and east Germany 10 – 16 June 2018 Sites Czarnocin Odra Delta Nature Park Dąbskie Lake (nr Szczecin) Woliński National Park Wolin Lower Odra Landscape Park Namyślin (near Kostryń) Nationalpark Unteres Odertal Ujście Warty (Mouth of Warta River) National Park Kaleńsko (tern rafts) Birds Greylag Goose Anser anser Recorded at Odra Delta Nature Park and Ujście Warty. Large moulting population present at latter site, where a number were caught, ringed and neck-collared (yellow with four black letters) on 15th. When flightless they hide in willow scrub to avoid the attentions of the White-tailed Eagles. Re-sightings have been recorded wintering in Italy and France, and breeding birds in the Czec Republic. Mostly quite pink-billed, though apparently they vary and are likely to be intermediate between anser and rubrirostris. Mute Swan Cygnus olor Common and widespread Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus One at Dąbskie Lake, and one at Szczecin Lagoon. Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca Pair (or maybe two) at Kaleńsko. Garganey Spatuala querquedula At Odra Delta Nature Park, Ujście Warty, and Kaleńsko. Northern Shoveler Spatula clypeata At Nationalpark Unteres Odertal. Gadwall Mareca strepera Dąbskie Lake and other sites. Eurasian Wigeon Mareca Penelope Double figures at Odra Delta Nature Park. […]
We kept our sacred sites secret so that the foreign occupation regimes that started in 1227 would not destroy them. By remaining attached to our ancient perception of life, we preserved our identity and remaining whole as people.This is how we preserved a bright silver of the culture similar to that of peoples in the woodedparts of Europe and this has lasted for millennia.
The transfer of skills to the RSPB and National Park volunteers (and others interested in attending) would be an extremely valuable and sustainable asset. Scything and stacking the fen vegetation may not entirely replace the need to use machinery over this extensive site. It would however be a very useful addition to the methods available to maintain these important sites for wildlife.
The hay meadows face many difficulties in a changing Romania. No one can halt the tide of industrialisation, especially if it makes life easier for an aging population. Romanians are not living in a museum, and they must be allowed to change in the same way as we all do. However, the Apuseni mountains – the name translates into Sunset Mountains – feel like they’re on the brink of change, and that change could lead to a complete loss of hay meadow culture. And, as with so many of these things, Europe may not realise the value of this place before it becomes lost to history.
The Romanian experience has led to a great deal of reflection on how hay, orchards, amenity grassland, ‘rough grass’ and agricultural set aside is managed in Britain. The tendency to use rotary mowers and in the agricultural setting mower conditioners, must have an impact on invertebrate life. In Romania, we were able to experience what is possible with grassland management when it is more sympathetic to biodiversity. It has been enlightening.
What did I learn from Romania? Firstly, it reinforced to me how important these less intensively managed High Nature Value landscapes are for wildlife. Whether visiting the beautiful Romanian hay meadows or the Uist’s Machair, these really are special places and we must find ways to make sure communities are given sufficient support to ensure these areas can maintain their biodiversity value.
Even though the management of the land has to make economic sense to the Romanians it seems that they do value the importance of trees more so than a lot of English farmers that I work with. This might be because of the way the land is farmer on a smaller scale with less intensive machinery which makes it easier to work around a tree or hedge in the field. This might be because the agri-environment schemes work differently or simply because they recognise that trees have a wide number of benefits that can lead to both economic and environmental sustainability.
In Romania outside space seemed to me to be valued, planted and used well. But would a return to this type of growing really work for us? Can we really change our thinking and green our grey by filling our gardens with useful, valuable plants? How would our manicured and grey slabbed neighbours respond? Perhaps not to corn or vines in our Scottish climate, but to a front garden filled with ‘untidy’ raspberry canes, tattie shaws and strawberry runners? It shouldn’t really matter.
The villages of Girbovita and Rimet are located high in the Apuseni mountains, nestled within a landscape which has hardly changed since medieval times. The valleys and peaks are breathtakingly beautiful, but the reality of life in this part of Romania is not so rose-tinted, with many areas facing an uncertain future.
The outcomes of this colourful week in Romania can be split into two areas. Firstly, the biological/ecological prospects for further study and secondly, the ecology of the group to allow better recognition of who is willing to do what to secure prospects of further trips and studies.
Overall Estonia appears to have come out of the Soviet years of suppression very rapidly and now has a dynamic buzz and proud satisfaction about itself that is definitely as strong as can be witnessed anywhere else in Europe, but most important they appear to be a very proud and happy nation! This expression within their nation is witnessed in their fondness of art, good design and bright colour, used wherever possible and appropriate!
We spent a week in Slovenia, travelling far and wide, learning about various topics such as: sustainable development, biodiversity, habitat & ecosystem management, adaptive approaches to species management, tourism development & management, environmental interpretation, cultural landscape management & sustainability. The following story map illustrates our educational and unforgettable experience.
In completing this report, I am spoilt for choice in terms of the range of experiences to document. I have chosen a theme of strong women to link these experiences. One of the key impressions that I took away from my visit to Estonia was the resilience and creativity of so many Estonian women, not only those that we met, but historical figures who have coped with turbulent times in the history of their country.
The Young Rangers programmes are advertised in many ways across the island to recruit participants, with social media a major method of communication. Mari asks potential applicants to write a letter of motivation, explaining why they want to join the programme and says this helps the young people to see the value in it, even before they start on the activities. They have very good gender balance on the programmes with equal numbers of girls and boys applying on average and this year, slightly higher numbers of girls than boys. I was very impressed by this and wonder if it has to do with a general approach to education wherein outdoor learning seems to be a standard part of the school day and gender stereotypes don’t seem to lead girls to opt out of hands on, practical outdoor activity as they are reported to do in the UK.
A group of 8 people from a mixture of environmental organizations, travelled to Western Pomerania in June, to look at wetland management. We visited several different areas and spoke to various people regarding the management of the environment. We were hosted and shown around the region by Kaz (Dr Kazimerz Rabski), chairman of the Society For The Coast (EUCC-Poland). Some of the key areas looked at include: Management versus non-management eg. When to mow, control invasive species etc & when to leave alone grazing – using Konic ponies & highland cattle enhancing tern and oyster catcher productivity using rafts & trialling a chemical mink deterrent, with viewing via a floating hide expanding the cycle route from Germany into Poland reclaimed land from dredging activities & its use to create wildlife habitat and recreational areas This is by no means an exhaustive list! In addition to what we could learn from our Polish colleagues, the trip was a great opportunity to mix with colleagues from other Scottish organisations in the environmental field. The trip also provided some great experiences and memorable moments for the participants, sending us all back to our day jobs with renewed vigor! Here is a link to […]
A return to traditional farming methods, i.e. extensive grazing and mowing, is being used to restore the previous floristic and ornithological biodiversity of the wet grasslands. To achieve this the Society for the Coast maintain the largest group of Konik horses in Poland, an ancient Polish breed, currently numbering about 230 animals. They also have around 130 Scottish Highland cattle. Between them these hardy animals graze an area of 450 ha. They are left virtually unmanaged and are increasing in numbers.
Our guide Maarika Naagel coined a phrase early on in our journey. She told us we would meet many “positive crazy people” on our Estonian adventure. She assured us that this was a great thing – we would see! With a glint in her eye she informed the group that she herself was indeed a positive crazy person. So, in a new country, unable to speak the language and with no other options, we all clambered aboard the bus with a self-confessed crazy person at the wheel and began our Estonian adventure.
The Erasmus+ course in Estonia in July/August 2018 was great, packed to the brim with inspiring learning. I intended to make a scrapbook as a report but did not have enough time. I have made a sort of presentation/digital scrapbook hybrid (not very creative!) which I hope still retains the visual sense I intended, if not the textural richness I really wanted. Please see the pdf here: Whole thing copy
This is a report on a course developed by ARCH, hosted by Maarika Naagel from Viitong Heritage Tours and funded through the Erasmus+ programme. What better time to visit this culturally rich country than its 100th birthday! During this study trip, I experienced & participated in Estonian traditions relating to: dialect, food, daily life, costume, craft, fishing, the natural environment and how heritage may be passed to younger generations. Whilst writing this travelogue type report, I have drawn parallels and made links with Scottish traditions through the various archives and collections on scran.ac.uk Day One – Tuesday 31st July 2018 Travelling to Tallinn & Beyond After an early start departing from Glasgow, via Amsterdam our group of eight, eager Erasmus+ participants arrived in Tallinn to be warmly welcomed by the marvellous Maarika Naagel – who we discovered as the week progressed is a font of knowledge & a powerhouse of enthusiasm for all things Estonian. She chauffeured us, via Virtsu harbour and a ferry crossing, all the way to Värava Farm. We were to reside here at Selgase Village, in Saare County in the western part of Saaremaa Island in rustic fashion for the next four nights. Day Two – […]
Title Subject Technical Authors
A narrated slide show of some of my photos Hebe Carus Living Landscape Programme Manager Scottish Wildlife Trust
From 1 to 8 September 2017 we took part in an Erasmus+ study tour of south west Norway, led by Duncan Halley of the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA). This is a brief report to summarise the lessons learnt from the visit. The main reason for the trip was to look at woodland cover and regeneration in south west Norway. This area of Norway is on the same latitude as the north of Scotland and shares a very similar climate and geology, and so highlights the potential for woodland cover in Scotland. SW Norway was deforested for centuries (for similar reasons to the Highlands) but in the last century, and particularly in the last 50 years, there have been large increases in woodland cover, mainly by natural regeneration. The main areas we visited were the Flekkefjord coastal region (Gården Li and Fidjadalen) in the extreme SW and which are comparable to the west coast of Scotland, and Byklehaiene near the town of Bjåen which is a bit further inland and akin to the Cairngorms. At the end of each day we all participated in group discussion, going over the main points of debate and topics that we […]
‘The forest is a poor man’s fur coat’ I heard this saying as we were walking through the National Museum, and it struck a chord with me. Over half of Estonia is covered by forest, and you can see how much they value it in their management, interpretation and visitor centres, and in so many of their natural wooden products. I was very impressed with RMK, especially with the design of their visitor centres and interpretation
I found myself drawn to as the week went on was the story of the history of landownership and land use in Latvia, the way in which forestry plays an important role in the economy of the country and how the people of Latvia interact with the woodland and wildlife in their country. I found it particularly thought provoking how that history has shaped the habitats and ecosystems that exist and how they function. (Alison Austin)
Over two-thirds of Finland is forest cover. Much is owned by private persons. Accessibility is also important because many people are able to use the forest, even if they do not own any forests themselves. People are able to use the forest and the wildlife within it as a renewable resource for wood products, hunting and foraging. Above all, most Finnish people strongly value the link with nature.
We learned that Finland has forty two National Parks and we were told that in total they receive around 4 million visitors per year. By contrast Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park (LLTTNP) has over 4.5 million visitors.
EVO is a hiking centre and forestry college in Kanta-Häme. As well as teaching forestry skills from an economic, recreational and conservational point of view, EVO offers opportunities for members of the public to engage with nature. For example, the public can pay to spend time with animals- there are numerous cows that the public can see and tend, while there is also a meat and grain store.
Nature is often fragile, however, and especially here in the North can be slow to recover from damage. With the freedom to enjoy the countryside comes the obligation to leave the environment undisturbed and preserve Finland’s rich natural heritage for future generations to enjoy.
This is a joint report written by Ian Bray (Scottish Natural Heritage), Georgie Brown (Galbraith), Estelle Gill (Scottish Natural Heritage), Michelle Henley (Scottish Wildlife Trust), Andrew James (Historic Environment Scotland), Gwen Raes (The Woodland Trust), Adam Samson (Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park).
One of the biggest challenges highlighted within the wetland examples was their future management and development, with uncertainty over governance models. This too, is a challenge for Scotland’s wetland areas, with implications for our exit from Europe
The history and culture of Poland is of great significance when considering not only nature conservation in Poland, but also how the population perceives their valuable natural assets. In Poland, the connection to the land was broken for a significant period of time…
Our structured course led our two car convoy through the mountains to visit many examples of innovation and practical solutions to the issues facing the rural economy. We visited traditional producers of almonds, figs, grapes (raisins), herbs, cheese and smoked sausages. At Kato Drys museum the connection with people from the past and their stories was both moving and engaging, and personal tours reinforced that authenticity.
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 […]