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

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

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

Craft Education & Practice in Bulgaria
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Craft Education & Practice in Bulgaria

It was interesting to hear that despite training opportunities there is not much uptake by young people to follow a career path in crafts. Many leave rural areas and head to the larger towns and cities for employment. Indeed some villages we drove through had an abundance of derelict houses and one we were told had 300 homes occupied out of a total of 1000. So what can be done to encourage young people into a career path within crafts? The model of an apprenticeship whereby the individual receives training through a dual system is an approach which works well. This involves a combination of theoretic training in an educational establishment combined with practical training in a crafts enterprise. Over the last few years Historic Environment Scotland has directed funding into apprenticship schemes in a number of its directorates. In the area of conservation there are paid apprenticeships in tradition crafts such as stonemasonary, joinerary, plumbing and painting. Individuals receive a wage and are guarrenteed employment after successful completion of the training. Indeed apprenticeship schemes across Scotland in all areas of work are on the rise.

Connecting people with cultural and natural heritage in Bulgaria, and lessons for Scotland
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Connecting people with cultural and natural heritage in Bulgaria, and lessons for Scotland

The Association was set up after our host Velis and her co-worker Iva were touring the villages of the Plateau more than a decade ago and looking into ways they could help the region develop for the benefit of the residents. They discovered people in neighbouring villages with similar interests but no communication between them, a lack of accommodation for visitors, and rich cultural and natural heritage – worth sharing – that had been ignored, mistreated or neglected. Relying on the memories and experiences of local people, they found and cleared up some of these sites, installing interpretation and path networks, and advertised them in tourist guides. Visitor numbers went from 15,000 per year to more than 250,000 in only a few years

Study Visit to Bulgaria & the Devetaki Plateau
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Study Visit to Bulgaria & the Devetaki Plateau

Infrastructure improvements are generally costly, but DTA has made significant inroads into connecting the villages to twenty-first century Bulgaria and the rest of the world by the installation of publicly available internet facilities in each of the community centres. Residents, with suitable training, are thus able to read news, contact relatives, order goods and otherwise develop and maintain contacts with other parts of Bulgaria and the wider world. DTA has also initiated language classes, a project which has many potential benefits in the wider tourism strategy for the area.