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Map of Europe
This was a trip with many highlights and at first I found it difficult to choose just one but in spite of the incredible landscapes and nature we experienced first-hand, it was in fact the group itself that was the stand out highlight for me. To have a group of people from a range of backgrounds and roles that were all completely on the same page was both exciting and in many ways a relief. Large scale restoration of our landscapes here in Scotland is often a difficult message to promote and it’s easy to feel like a lone voice but it provided great comfort (and indeed many excellent conversations) to know there are others out there with similar passions to help restore what once was.
I have a little bit of a different blog for you this time as I have been away on an Erasmus+ Mobility exchange program in Finland to look at and compare their forestry. The project was funded through the Erasmus+ programme and developed by ARCH and its consortium partners. This course gave me a greater experience of what the Caledonian pine forest could look like and how we are better able to engage people in nature and conservation. I wanted to use this experience to explore my understanding and share what I learned with all of you.
From 30th August to 6th September 2022, I was fortunate to take part in a Nature Exchange in Finland. The visit was funded through the Erasmus+ programme and hosted by staff and students from Tampere University of Applied Sciences. My role as Head Ranger at Balmoral Estate involves taking practical action on the ground to manage habitats and species as well as visitors and access. I am also involved in providing access and interpretation to visiting members of the public.
Delayed from from 2020 due to COVID restrictions, our group finally made it in early July 2022. Follow our story as we explore a small area of Western Slovenia, welcomed by many interesting people who told us their stories. This report is hosted on the “StoryMap” website.
The course had a particular focus on interpretation – how we tell our stories and present matters to others – a topic I am truly passionate about and a skill necessary and important to both of my roles. Taking the course in Estonia was a very meaningful experience, rich in content and inspiring on many levels.
An inspirational and diverse programme of topics and visits was put together for us which included Kemeri and Gauja National Parks, the Lubana wetland complex and Latvia’s only gorge near Sigulda. The themes explored were Forestry, large carnivore management, research and legislation, peat bog and wetland management, nature protection system and practices, cultural and green infrastructure and digital tools in conservation. Cultural visits included a visit to the Nordic Herbal Museum in Cecis, a guided walk and history talk in the old town of Cecis, a visit to the Ligatne Nature Park in Gaujas National Park, the Kalsnavas Arboretum and the Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum in Riga.
In May 2022, Turizem Bohinj hosted a structured course in Triglav National Park, Slovenia, for those working in Scotland in the natural and cultural heritage sectors. We travelled to various parts of Triglav National Park and Ljubljana to explore the wildflower festival, national park management, sustainable tourism destination management, developing brands in a high biodiversity area and heritage interpretation.
Râmeț was not collectivised during the Communist era, due to its limited resource of ploughable land, thus there has been a continuity of farming practice. Those areas which were ploughable were traditionally planted with spring wheat, which matures in the summer. This wheat has a long straw, which was used for the traditional thatched buildings. Wheat growing ceased about 20-30 years ago, when bread became available from the shop, and the land has reverted to pasture.
BROZ an award winning conservation NGO in Slovakia are trying to save a key wetland site by raising the money to buy it and manage it for nature. If you can support them and share with your network you can help to protect this vital site. Visit their website and fundraising site to see more about this important campaign. We have a unique opportunity to restore a territory which has been for many years intensively used for agriculture. Now we have a chance to change it and protect a 42-hectare wetland in an agricultural country. This territory is very unique due to the occurrence of a rare glacial relict Central European root vole (Microtus oeconomus mehelyi) and also many other species of plants and animals. Our goal is to protect and return not only water to the vast fields, but also the abundant life that is dependent on it. Therefore we’re calling on you – professionals, nature activists, conservationists, wildlife protectors, and climate champions – to help kick start this campaign and leave a positive impact for nature and generations to come. Our power comes from each other. We just started a campaign and the public collection to buy 42 ha piece of land. It is the sole […]
… that Norway, with its greater biodiversity intactness, has been far more effective than Scotland in managing and protecting its natural capital resources. This raises the question of whether Scotland can reverse biodiversity decline and build climate resilience by emulating the wildlife management practices employed in Norway?
This trip gave me an insight into an incredible culture and history that I had not experienced before. It is clear that the people of Galicia value, nurture and benefit significantly from their local forests. Local timber is embedded in their culture and much of what they produce, from musical instruments, footwear and tableware, to architecture and furniture. Throughout this trip, we met communities who are connected to their woodlands; there is an embedded culture of community ownership and diverse use of their local natural resources.