This is one of the faces of Walltopia – a Bulgaria company and a global leader in climbing wall manufacture. It belongs to the Mountain Guides training school in Troyan on the Devistashko Plateau, established in 2013. Marco, one of the teachers here, tells us that students arrive aged 14, and leave six years later with a range of skills including cultural tourism, mountain biking skills, navigation and first aid.
Introduction and Finnish Forestry Overview Over two-thirds of Finland is forest cover. This expanse of forest cover may be one of the reasons most of the population seems to be well connected to nature, because most people live within reach of nature. Not only do people live near nature, but many are able to own a small piece of it as much of the forested area is owned by private persons. Accessibility is also important because many people are able to use the forest, even if they do not own any forests themselves. Subject to certain rules and regulations, people are able to use the forest and the wildlife within it as a renewable resource for wood products, hunting and foraging. Above all, most Finnish people strongly value the link between being in nature and good health.
Re-scheduled: 30th Aug – 6th Sept 2022 The course will be centred around Tampere University and will include a presentation from Scottish participants to Finnish students; there will be visits to conservation, commercial and urban forest a national park, either Seitseminen or Helventinjarvi National Parks.
The STEM Programme (Traditional Skills & Sustainable Materials) ALL STEM courses postponed until 2022. We are planning to continue with our Adult Education courses in Natural and Cultural Heritage as soon as COVID conditions permit for safe travel. We hope to run NET courses in 2022. The announcement that the UK is leaving the ERASMUS+ programme will not affect the running of the projects which already have signed contracts. We will contact everyone who was offered a place on courses last year to ask if they would like to go this year when conditions permit. When we have established courses dates with our partners we will advertise the courses and the remaining course spaces. We are extremely disappointed at the decision of the UK government to leave the Erasmus+ Programme, but we are committed to continuing to deliver high quality and unique educational experiences with our host partners until the end of our contract. STEM Traditional Skills and Heritage Management The overall aim of STEM is to improve the knowledge, experience and engagement of Scottish professionals, to ensure that traditional skills and sustainable materials continue to survive as a dynamic part of our common European heritage and provide employment, […]
Natural regeneration was abundant nearly everywhere we visited, something which is comparatively unusual in Scotland unless it is enclosed within a deer fence. Regeneration was so prevalent in some locations that it was encroaching into previously open habitats, such as small fields of abandoned farms. A strong hunting culture and associated herbivore management within Finland appears to the main cause for natural regeneration within Finnish forests.
I went to Finland with an idea to compare the forests there with those in Scotland and, more specifically, with that found at Abernethy. It became apparent, however, that such a comparison was unrealistic. The context of the forests, geographically, culturally and historically, are totally different. Finland is roughly 5 times the size of Scotland and is 75% forested. The population is approximately the same in both countries. This has meant that huge areas of Finnish forest are never, or incredibly rarely, disturbed by human activity. Historically, effectively all of Scotland’s forests have been managed as commercial plantations, especially following the Second World War. This meant a huge reduction in the size of the forest and large areas of forest consisting of uniform trees the same age and size. Finland has greater areas of old growth, natural forest which has never been managed by humans. Culturally, the natural world appears to garner much more respect in Finland than in Scotland with visitors much less likely to actively damage the forest or wilfully disturb wildlife. Regular fire sites and camping huts mean that visitors have designated places to eat, sleep and light fires. Much of the way the Finnish people treat […]
By Claire Glaister, Institute of Chartered Foresters 61 degrees latitude: A house of 100 trees An intrepid group of seven left Scotland to head to the land of lakes and trees; a country with a scale of forestry which, to a forester, comes close to Utopia. The week-long Erasmus+ study tour, hosted by Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) and promoted by ARCH, was to cover forests, birds and environmental education. On arrival at our accommodation for the week however, it became clear that we would also be treated to spectacular skies and sunrises, landscapes and culture and great hospitality too. The final turn of our journey that night took us down an avenue of Silver birch which, even accounting for the car’s headlights, seemed to shine brightly in front of us. The bark looked much brighter than we see on birch at home and certainly lived up to the tree’s silver title. Sitting around the kitchen table that first evening, our neighbour, Tapio Rautaneva, the owner of the house, explained to us how he had built it using 100 trees from his own woodland – just along the road – individually selected for their physical and quality characteristics. […]
The government use revenue from hunting licences to compensate landowners on any damage to productive tree crops by deer browsing – if this is indeed correct it is a very different system to what we have in Scotland. Despite the presence of bears and wolves we learned that hunting is essential to managing a sustainable deer population, which was contrary to my perception at the start of the trip. Tapio said there are around 300 wolves in Finland, but 10,000 would be needed to meet equilibrium. It would not be possible for the number of wolves to coexist with the current human population of Finland – so hunting of deer by humans will always be required. We also learned that in the Lapland area accounting for 36% of the country no bears, wolves or lynx were tolerated and were shot on sight to protect the reindeer. Unlike Scotland there are no ‘professional’ hunters, as hunting is too popular of an activity. However, Tapio foresees such jobs might exist in the future as the country continues to urbanise and less people live in rural areas.
This film shows the other side of the Erasmus course – the friendships formed and the cultural barriers toppled.
What beguiled me on this trip was that it was evident from every Finnish person I spoke too that they had a deep respect for nature. This included the hunters. Even the predators were an important part of their mythology. For instance, people used to collect the first droppings that a bear produced after hibernation and kept them in a pouch to wear so that they would have the strength of a bear all year. Another indication of this respect was the almost total lack of litter found in natural places which can be a real problem in Scotland. Our student guides just didn’t understand why you would leave rubbish behind. Solo walks in the forest were common and important to people of all ages. My impression was that the Finnish culture still maintained a real connection with nature whilst some urbanisation in Scotland may have severed this connection.