By Taylor Smith (RSPB) Dehesa San Francisco Imagine a mobile, hanging over a baby’s cot. Each of its whimsical shapes - a clust | read more
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.
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.
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.
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.
I was impressed by the Latvian stance of only planting native trees for timber production and in particular the way their native species list and climate allows for timber production and native woodland habitats to coexist under the same canopy over such vast tracts of land. I certainly felt very lucky to be able to learn about the effects of the fall of the iron curtain from people that were there when it fell, and of the management issues of such a massive land border, and even occasional visiting Bears in a way that no documentary or lecture could ever match.
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. The Nature Exchange visit was organised and co-ordinated by Archnetwork and delivered in Slovakia by Krajina, a small private company which works in eco-tourism, Community Development and Cultural Management.
This year we have programmes for Romania, Iceland, Norway, Latvia, Slovakia, France, Slovenia and Bulgaria. 6 people from Scotland will go to each country, spending 7-8 days participating in workshops, site visits, hands-on activities and seminars. This is intended to be an intellectual exchange – European partners will come to Scotland, but you are not obliged to host them. Although we do hope to initiate new projects from all of our partners. Nature Exchange offers wonderful opportunities to network with people doing similar work in Scotland.
Cyprus 26th March – 3rd April Report by Alan Mitchell We arrived at Pafos airport on Saturday evening and drove to the hillside village of Pano Lefkara, about 70 miles to the east. The essence of our tour was to study the changes occurring to the landscape due to changes in land-use practices and climate change. My report covers the areas of key interest to myself and areas where I will 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 […]
The itinerary for our visit was researched and organised by two students from Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) as part of their forestry degree studies where they also acted as guides, a source of information, interpreters and looked after the group on a daily basis during our stay. A group of six professionals from Scotland with mixed specialism’s within conservation from Government bodies, consultants, volunteers and ranger naturalists visited Finland where a dissemination of information was exchanged and discussions took place. The itinerary was as such that allowed for both lectures from specialists in their field and a follow up visit to sites to see some of the scientific work being carried out. The program was mixed and as such most elements appealed to the interests and disciplines of the group. This allowed for the group to discuss some issues as a group and where comparisons were drawn from a Scottish conservation perspective.
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
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 […]
A NATURE EXCHANGE VISIT TO ICELAND IN JUNE 2012 This is a personal report on a visit to Skalanes Natural and Heritage Centre 17-23 June 2012. The visit was promoted and organised by the ARCH Trainer Exchange (Nature Exchange 9) and funded by the Leonardo da Vinci programme of the European Commission. Flying from Glasgow to Keflavik provided a good opportunity to compare Scottish and Icelandic vegetation. The thick cloud parted as we passed over the Western Isles revealing the shell sand beaches along the Sound of Taransay and the extensive open rock of the South Harris hills separated by narrow areas of wet heath. An hour or so later, approaching Iceland, the ‘modern’ island or Surtsey only formed in 1963 came into view below. The vegetation cover which is slowly establishing there was visible only as a slight green tinge to parts of the bare rock field. Approaching Keflavik we flew over lava flows grey-green with a continuous carpet of a single plant species the woolly hair moss (Racomitrium laguniosum) and vast open areas of volcanic rock and sand with hardly a plant to be seen. South Harris, one of the sparsest vegetated parts of the UK, started to seem lush. Mountain avens (Dryas […]
The area of Norway we visited has a number of large herbivores present in its woodlands. These include Moose, red and roe deer, with Reindeer found further north. Looking at the sites we visited their impact on the regeneration of the forests seems to be minimal, despite the fact that pinus spp. are generally prone to browsing damage. In contrast to scotland where these herbivores are generally treated as a pest in forestry terms, in Norway they are treated as a valuable forest resource, giving an valuable annual income from the sale of shooting rights and meat/skins. (up to £2800/moose for meat alone). The only area where we saw a substantial impact on forestry was in areas where the moose were fed in the winter. Winter feeding is carried out to draw the animals away from the valleys and roads in winter, and this increase in densty in the feeding areas has had a major impact on the regeneration of trees. David Bale
Funding organisation: Leonardo de Vinci organisation Promoting organisation: ARCH, Scotland Host organisation: Krajina, Slovakia Itinerary Main themes from week 1) Large extent and naturalness of woodland cover – Slovakia has 40% woodland cover nationally with a higher proportion in the areas we visited. Some of the woodland in National Parks is left entirely to natural processes, but even the commercially managed woodlands are semi-natural and rich in biodiversity with management based on long rotation and natural regeneration of native species (beech, spruce) for construction quality timber; 2) High importance and impact of hunting – The high commercial value of hunting and the wide participation of the rural population support the maintenance of large semi-natural woodlands as habitat for trophy species (wolves, bears, wild boar and deer). Hunting is unpalatable to many conservationists but the benefit for habitat conservation may well outweigh the impact of losses due to hunting itself as demonstrated by the high and apparently stable populations of wolf, lynx and bear. The combination of hunting and large predator populations also helps to control deer populations at a level where foresters can rely on natural regeneration to restock forests; 3) The richness and diversity of Eastern Slovakia’s wildlife – […]
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.
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.
Our Slovenian host Bojan had arranged for a cultural exchange evening where three ladies from the Society of Rural Women volunteered to teach four of us how to cook traditional Slovenian dishes, while three more were taught by the remaining three Scots how to make traditional Scottish dishes. This all went smoothly and during this hour, the wonderful ladies from the Society of Rural Women had been busy putting together the final touches for the meal and were ready right on cue to bring out the food. We took it in turn to stand with our respective teacher/pupil to talk through the dish produced – Gordon gave a brilliant introduction to the haggis! And that was it; we tucked in and ate and talked with various people, we taught many of them the dance Strip The Willow with varying success, although everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves. In return we were taught a traditional Slovenian dance – in comparison it was very tame and a good way to wind down the evening!
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…
Ann-Marie MacMaster, Rivers and Fisheries Trusts for Scotland (RAFTS) Beaver typically build dams in shallow burns or streams (rather than large, deep rivers) in order to raise the water level so that they can swim, feed, cache food and enter the lodge in relative safety. The impressive engineering skills of the beaver together with materials used, such as branches, soil and plants, collectively ensure that the dam is a substantial semi-permanent structure. Once the dam is built the water level rises and it is possible that the immediate surrounding habitat may become flooded. Photo 1: Pipe inserted through dam in order to reduce the water level. Note mesh cage at one end to prevent debris from blocking the pipe © Ann-Marie MacMaster Photo 2: Mesh netting can be used to protect trees from beaver damage © Aylwin Pillai Anecdotal evidence suggests that a number of species benefit from the activities of the beaver including plants, dragonflies, birds and amphibians. In addition, beaver areas slow down water run-off during flooding, decrease peaks of flooding downstream and beaver ponds trap nutrients and retain silt. Not everyone will benefit from the beaver however. Economically valuable land such as arable land and forestry are […]
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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
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 […]
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
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.
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 […]
Sally Hutchinson Between the 18-25th May 2014 I took part in the CHIST exchange to Eastern Slovakia funded by the EU “Leonardo da Vinci” programme. The organisation of the trip came from Arch Network based in Scotland, with the host company being Krajina, who specialise in the development of Eco-tourism in eastern Slovakia through the promotion of the regions wildlife, folk traditions and unique architecture. The participants taking part in this exchange came from a wide range of backgrounds which was ideal as it provided a good grounding for sharing experiences and practices. Our guide for the week was Mr Miro Knezo who is the man behind the Krajina SK company, he provided a great service, showing off his in depth knowledge of the area that he was clearly passionate about. Sunday 18th June We arrive into a very damp Krakow where we find that our guide has been delayed a short time due to flooding leading to the collapse of two road bridges from Slovakia. Miro arrives in his white van that is soon to become our new home from home for the next week. We began the 4 hour journey (gave us enough time to introduce […]
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 […]
Arriving in Bulgaria, after a sleep-deprived day of flights via Paris and some so-so airline food, I had no real idea or picture of what awaited me in the week ahead. Would there really be rural peasants on a horse and cart? Would it be full of decaying Communist tower blocks? Would the food consist only of grilled meat? Well, after a week’s relentless tour through Bulgaria’s cultural heritage being led by our indefatigable guide Velislava Chilingirova (known as Velis), I can say quite definitively that, whilst all these stereotypes are there if you look for them, they are really not the story. Whilst Bulgaria is not a wealthy country by any means, the strong impression you get as a visitor is of quiet civility: culture here appears to be less of a luxury and more a part of daily life. I was travelling with five other people from across Scotland, who all had experience in different aspects of cultural heritage, from conserving and interpreting the historic environment to promoting cultural tourism and developing community craft skills. We were taking part in a programme entitled “Cultural Heritage Interpretation and Sustainable Tourism”, organised by ARCH (an independent Perthshire-based NGO) and funded […]
“Discussion took place about how this type of activity could be promoted – both in Cyprus and back home in Scotland, if foraging walks or mountain biking trails could be advertised either as written texts, mobile phone applications – or as guided tours, with descriptions of the local environment, plants and wildlife incorporated into them. This in itself might help to preserve or at least document some of the local traditions around the landscape and environment of these fragile communities, and raise people’s awareness of different species of plants which can still be used either as food or for medicinal purposes today.” Jill de Fresnes RCAHMS Cultural Heritage Interpretation and Sustainable Tourism CYPRUS 19th – 26th April 2014 Introduction On the evening of Saturday 19th April six of us from a range of heritage backgrounds arrived in Paphos Airport, Cyprus – not yet sure just exactly what we had let ourselves in for, but already clear that we would learn a lot from each other as well as from the week long programme of events laid on for us in the Larnaka region of Cyprus by the Archnetwork team. We were met at the airport by Martin Clark, a forester […]
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 […]
“It seems that the direct interpretation of collections is often dependent on the initiative of local folklore groups. It was those moments and visits like this, which brought the collections and houses we were visiting really to life. It reminded me of the way we are trying to communicate and get visitors involved within the Georgian House with our school and education visits, as well as our Living History tours, in attempts to make the House and its collection attractive and interesting through not only seeing but through hearing, tasting and interaction with guides, volunteers and costumed ‘actors’. This brings in another dimension which can be experienced, not only seen.” Bethan Morris
“Achieving a sustainable balance between the promotion of heritage tourism and the conservation of the very artefacts one seeks to increase access to is a universal dichotomy, and my observations during the week have been most thought provoking. “ Neil Buchan Cultural Heritage Interpretation and Sustainable Tourism
Amongst many things, we learnt about home cooking, we were given lessons in folk dancing and we were shown how to make traditional corn dollies. Our senses were spoilt sampling local delicacies and we got the chance to listen to traditional music, dance and singing. We crammed in a whole range of new experiences, many of which were truly unforgettable.
The 4am rendezvous at was tough but we bonded over coffee at horribly-early-o-clock in the departure lounge at Edinburgh airport, bleary-eyed but excited about our upcoming adventure. There were six of us, all involved in the Scottish heritage and culture sector. We were heading to Bulgaria, a country about which we each admitted we knew virtually nothing. Our visit was part of a scheme enabling cultural heritage professionals from across Scotland to visit other European countries, funded by the European Commission’s Leonardo da Vinci programme and organised by ARCH network. ARCH works in liaison with local partner organisations, in our case the Devetaki Plateau Association in Bulgaria, and Velis Chilingirova was our very excellent local guide. Cultural Heritage Interpretation and Sustainable Tourism in Bulgaria 22nd-29th June 2014 Helen Watkins, Glasgow Museums I work at Glasgow Museums where I am the Research Manager for history, working with the team of curators covering history, archaeology and World Cultures and also with external researchers and students using our collections. I was initially drawn to this trip by the material culture and the opportunity to visit museums and archaeological sites, curious about the interpretive methods used and how Bulgarian museums work with their […]
Estonian exchange trip August 2014 Kirsty Rosie, Highland Council Ranger Service The project On August 23rd 2014, six Scottish delegates set off on a journey across the north and Baltic seas to visit Estonia. The project was promoted by Arch Network; a Scottish Non-Government Organisation based in Comrie, Perthshire, promoting learning and development in natural and cultural heritage between Scotland and other European countries. The visit was funded by the organisation CHIST which has been funded within the framework of the ‘Leonardo da Vinci’ programme of the European Commission (DG EAC). Our host was Heritage Tours Ltd, who are based on the Estonian Island of Saaremaa. Our guide for the week was Maarika Toomel the Director of Heritage Tours Ltd. She was a warm, knowledgeable and endlessly kind host, without whom we could never have gained such an insight into the country. The participants The group was drawn from a wide range of public engagement settings: Lynsey Anderson – National Mining Museum of Scotland Isobel McDonald – Glasgow Museums – Social History Dept. Cliff Giddings – Wild by Nature, Outdoor adventure leaders Joe Waterfield – Robert Burns Birthplace Museum Claire Hewitt – Story teller Kirsty Rosie – Highland Council, Countryside […]
The gable end of the building houses 60 hives for honey production, and additional hives at each side to provide air to rise from the hives to surround a person on the couch in the room above the hive. The building has large ground floor rooms and bedrooms and a balcony above, thus making it into an apitherapy centre.
Apis Mellifera Carnica – the Gentle Bee I went to Slovenia with no preconceptions, I set out on the trip with a very open mind. I didn’t know if there were any particular foodstuffs that were traditional to the region except gingerbread. Of course, it is world famous for its extremely gentle bees, the Carniolan honey bee (Apis mellifera carnica), but that was that. These two items go hand-in-hand anyway, because to make a good gingerbread, you need good honey. So Slovenia, bring it on – tantalise my taste buds, titivate my senses of sight and smell. Give me a sensory tour of your food products. I was not to be disappointed. Our first morning in Ivanci was a meet-and-greet session starting at the village fire station. Here, we were offered Prleška Tűnka which is chopped pork, preserved in lard, spread on rye bread and topped with sliced spring onions. After a sizeable breakfast, I was not particularly keen to partake at such an early stage of the day, but with eyes bigger than my stomach, I soon overcame this reluctance. It was delicious. Not at all greasy, which was what I was expecting, and it went very well with […]
The visit provided many special opportunities for informal learning that could not have been acquired by any means other than interaction with the local community experienced within their cultural and natural environment. The project was based in a school house in the hamlet of Rîmeţ which sits at about 1000 metres above spectacular rural scenery that is only accessible by rough track roads. Rîmeţ is in a wonderful natural setting, surrounded by prolific flower meadows that are unspoiled by any chemical fertilisers. There is a fantastic matrix of wild plants that attract a wide variety of butterflies and insects which it turn allows birdlife to flourish there. There are some simple tracks and paths that thread their way through the landscape and would provide some potential for Eco tourism ( eg walking or bird watching holidays),
I was part of a five person group from the Strathearn area of Scotland, which took part in what was to be the first of six exchange visits planned for 2014/2015. Our programme in Romania centred on visiting the village of Rimet in Alba County, Transylvania, to observe and take part in the local village festival. We were to be joined by a similar group from the village of Ivanci in Slovenia. Di Mcnab
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 heard […]
“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.
Our guide was Velislava Chilingirova, who turned out not only to be eminently knowledgeable and unfailingly skilled at group management, but also patient, generous, warm, funny and full of life; in short, a terrific ambassador not only for Bulgaria but also for the programme. Through Velis’s vast network of contacts, we as a group were privileged to be treated to site and museum visits that covered the full spectrum of Bulgaria’s heritage, all the while learning from practitioners who enthusiastically shared their expertise and experience. In addition, Velis made special arrangements to visit places and people not on the original programme;
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, […]
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 […]
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 […]
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
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 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 […]
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 […]
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.
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 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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
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”.
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 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!
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!
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 […]
One major similarity between Lefkara and Ayrshire is that both places have a tradition of lace-making. Seeing how the Green Village project utilised the skills of older generations by incorporating traditional textiles and patterns into contemporary fashion was inspirational and could easily be transferred to Ayrshire, or indeed anywhere in Scotland. Ayrshire lace, houndstooth, tweed, tartan – any of these traditional patterns could be used to create contemporary fashion that will engage a younger generation. This model could also be reproduced in other areas, such as traditional crafts like willow-weaving.
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 […]
This report is written from my perspective as a builder, researcher and trainer in Earth building.
There seems little doubt that Finns are more connected to nature and the outdoors than Scots – reflecting that Scotland has been more of an urban society for longer. The rights and responsibilities that come with Allemansratten are firmly embedded in the Finnish psyche. There are around 500,000 forest owners with an average holding of 44ha. This is one factor that has implications for the ongoing land reform debate at home and the level of connection to nature in Scotland.
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
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 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…
Mr Vilcins explained that ‘the sight (of clear felled areas) was preposterous
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 […]
I knew that it was highly unlikely that I would see lynx in the wild during the visit to Latvia but nonetheless hoped that I may catch a glimpse or possibly see some tracks or scat. As it turned out the lynx remained elusive but being present in the forest where it was known that they lived had a powerful effect
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 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.
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.
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.
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 […]
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.
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.
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 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.
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 […]
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
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.
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.
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 […]