Our visit to Eastern Slovakia consisted of a small group of 4 participants, plus our guide Miroslav Knezo, and Libby Urquhart from Arch Network. Three of the group work in fundraising, and the other a horse logger here is Scotland. Although 3 of us are in similar posts, all four of us come from very different backgrounds and vary in our conservation careers.
The course themes were far ranging, from large carnivore management, including hunting legislation and how people live with together with these animals as neighbours; forestry adaptations to climate change, covering the wind storm in the High Tatras, where the bark beetle is now thriving to the detriment of the forest; forestry methods, namely horse logging where is was a huge advantage having our very own horse logger to explain how the methods were similar to that in Scotland and across Europe.
We visited The High Tatras National Park, Eastern Slovakia Beech Forest (UNESCO World heritage), Slovak Kart National Park, Poloniny National Park, Silica Plateau and the Gombasek Cave. We also tried mushrooming in remote woodland areas and had several of the local, traditional cuisines.
Throughout the course there were various learning methods. These ranged from excursions to meet experts in their field of work, visiting museums, an evening lectures.
The course covers a wide array of conservation and cultural topics, covering a vast are in Eastern Slovakia.