Leonardo da Vinci Life Long Learning
  Dates, destinations and available places for Nature Exchange 2011

The 2011 programme for Nature Exchange is now completed.  All of the final reports will soon be posted on site.

New exchanges will begin in April of 2012.  Please download and complete an application form.

We will be sending groups to our partners in Norway, Finland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia, Romania, Poland, France, Iceland and Bulgaria.



  Application Form for Nature Exchange (Download)

Please download the attached file and return by mail or e mail.

You can select doc or pdf file format.


2 Attachments
  Everything is Made of Wood. Report by Amanda Bryan

The exchange was hosted by Satul Verde in Romania and explored a wide range of issues around local and traditional forestry from woodland ownership structures and management to use of local timber from use as a building material to wood fuel and production of local crafts and products.

The report is attached as a pdf file

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Latvian SunsetOn our recent exchange to Latvia we were taken on a journey that not only allowed us a glimpse at some of the wonderful natural highlights fund in the country but also afforded us a view into the collective memory of the Latvian people – in the museums and cultural sites we visited but also more significantly through the tales and experiences that were passed on to us by our host and the range of locals that we met on our journey from the beavers chewing the trees in the charming capital Riga through former Soviet bunkers numerous stunning woodlands and lakes, to the very edge of Europe. What follows is a series of essays from members of our group affording a glimpse into our thoughts following one gloriously sunny week in early June.

A journey to Europe’s Eastern edge
By Shireen Chambers, ICF, Julia Galley, SNH, Ian Edwards, RBGE
John Adair, SNH, and Patrick Robertson, FCS (report editor)    more »

  Carpathian Forest by James Ogilvie
Romania is a country in transition. An EU ‘newby’ (its 26th member), on the one hand it is rushing towards 21st century development in its towns and cities whilst on the other it is holding onto traditional practices in rural areas. Having renounced Ceauşescu’s 25 year dictatorship and introduced democratic elections only some 21 years ago, there are those (mainly younger people) who look to the future as a time of enterprise and prosperity, whilst others (mainly older folk) look back to the communist era as a period of certainty and stability.    more »
  Iceland Itinerery

Skálanes Iceland



Program itinerary 13.6-19.6


A program aimed at introducing participants to the natural environment of East Iceland.

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  Bulgaria Itinerary
08th -15th September

Outline Porgramme



Day 1

Arrival in Sofia – 1 night in a hotel, sharing in twin rooms. Depending on the time of the flight - dinner.


Day 2

Breakfast in the hotel;

In the morning – meeting in Sofia with experts from Bulgarian Biodiversity foundation (discussions ...   more »

  Cyprus Itinerery

 NE Cyprus in March - 28th March 

The programme looks like this....

Day 1.  Arrival in Larnaca - collected & transferred (40 mins) to the mountain village of Pano Lefkara.  Staying at the Lefkara Hotel (see www.lefkarahotels.com/ ).
Depending on arrival time, we may visit some 1,000 year old olive trees, to set the scene for ' an unchanging landscape that is now under threat from cultural and climatic change'. Over dinner discuss the week ahead

Day 2.  After breakfast at the hotel, drive (4WD) towards Vavatsinia and turn down into the valley of Kyprovasa. The landscape is mountainous with pine forest mixed with strawberry tree and golden oak. We meet with a local forester from Lythodondras station to look at the site of a severe fire in 2010. Are forest fires more frequent? What are the implications for nature, the landscape?  Picnic lunch in the valley - if it's hot (can be in March!) we can dangle our feet in a mountain stream.

In the afternoon we'll do a circular hike in the valley along one of the firebreaks and across a formerly farmed (now swallowed by forest) landscape.

Day 3. The water crisis!  After breakfast we visit the desalination plant in Larnaca - this is not necessarily the answer. After a lunch in Larnaca in a traditional taverna we drive to a nearby site to see migratory water birds - including flamingo.  We meet a local expert and talk about possible changes in migration patterns due to climate change.  If time allows we visit a community forest site in Oraklini and discuss the increasing importance of this type of initiative.

Day 4. On this day we visit two local forests in the rain shadow between the Kyrenia (in Turkish occupied area) and Troodos mountains. We look at changing management with a local forester and especially review how new forest has been successfully (if tenuously) established in an area which had no measurable rain for 3 years - through a complex terracing system.  We take some time to visitr Nicosia and see some cultural sites..

Day 5. An early start because today we travel to the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus. We visit Famagusta and travel on to the 'Pan Handle' - this is the wildest area of Cyprus, with golden beaches, wild donkeys and scrub forest. The day is relaxed but we do discuss issues such as red-list species and the way the area has been 'protected' from over-zealous developers by the partition of the island

Day 6. Troodos Forest Park - we visit the Environmental Visitor Centre - the manager is a bird expertt and will tell about the crossbill project - also about poissible impacts of climate change. We walk the 'Persephone' forest trail and focus on rare and endemic flora.  Picnic lunch.  Return for farewell meal in Adamos Taverna in Pano Lefkara.

Day 7 - Transfer to Larnaca for departure, after a chance to look at the local 'Lefkara lace' and silversmithing.




View Article  The High Tatras – Slovakia



Programme for  Krajina, Eastern Slovakia  29th May – 04th June 2010

High TatrasNational Park.

1.  Day with Robin Rigg from the Slovakian Wildlife Society.  The SWS run several projects; one is called BEARS (www.medvede.sk). BEARS stand for “Bear Education Awareness and Research in Slovakia” and this project is largely about educating Slovakians on how to live in harmony with bears and includes some research and awareness on wolves.

2.  Day  with  Dr Peter Fleischer, Forest Researcher with The High Tatras NP. The group will at windstorm damage from the storm in 2004 and discuss: environmental event, ensuing problems and mitigation factors

The NP covers an area of 738km² which is approximately 50% owned by the state and the remaining 50% in private ownership, mostly concentrated on the lower slopes where there is some agriculture for the people who live there. It was nationalised as an NP in 1942. The NP is mostly in forestry and is not commercially worked though there are commercial outlets within the NP such as winter and summer sports like skiing and walking.

3.  The Breaking point of the Hornad River in Slovenski Raj. 

The whole area is divided by rivers and small streams which have created canyons and waterfalls.  These can be explored by means of walkways, ladders and metal steps. Ladders were also installed so that tourists could climb up and touch falling water created by waterfalls. An amazing experience which raises issues about teh differing standards in health and safety in other EU counties

Possible visit if the weather is really good: Cable Car to the top of Lomnicky Stit through Skalnate Pleso. visit the weather station built on the summit.  It will cost you 30 Euros though, so its your choice. Walking back down the mountain via Skalnate Pleso to Tatranska Lomnica walking trip (about 2.5 hours).

Slovak Karst

1. Visit to Zadiel Canyon. The Canyon and Plateau are situated within the Slovensky Kraj (Slovak Karst) National Park (declared in 2002). The area was first designated as a nature reserve in 1954 and covers an area of 21,473ha.  The area is also a proposed Natura site, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site (for caves).  Over 900 species of higher plants have been recorded here.  You will be guided by botanist Lazlo Gordon who will describe the special climate and nature of the canyon and the unique combination of insects, butterflies and plants from both lower and higher altitudes. 

2. Visit to Silica Fridge, a natural cave with its own micro-climate and icicles present even in June with the temperature at the top being around 25 ºC .  This unique microclimate results in specific plants species growing here where they have adapted to the freezing temperatures year round.

Poloniny National Park.

Visit to 'Riaba skala' ,which translates as Grouse Cliff, in Poloniny National Park.  Meeting with with Samuel Halza, head forester (and keen beekeeper) to discuss the management strategies for forestry operations in the Polininy National Park. Grouse Cliff is so named because the layers of stone outcrop contrast with the darker, green vegetation thus resembling the markings on the breast feathers of Red Grouse.

Visit to Kreminec, the meeting point of three states, Poland, the Ukraine and Slovakia.  Walk into Stuzica, the wild forest, famous wild beech forest for which Slovakia is renowned.  This is only possible if the weather is good, it is a long steep walk without good tracks. and no vehicles are allowed in the area.

If there is time, or weather makes other visits impossible, then we will go to a game reserve, where deer and wild boar are managed for paying shoots, followed by a visit to an educational trail by a lake known as “The Eye of the Sea”.

  Peatland and Game Management in Finland


01st -08th May 2011

Day 1

Arrival, settling in Lempäälä

Day 2.

Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK)

A presentation of Tampere University of Applied Sciences

An introduction to Degree programmes in Environmental engineering and Forestry

Guests have an opportunity to introduce themselves and their field of experience

A presentation of Finnish nature and its special characteristics

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  Jewels in Latvias Biodiversity


03rd -10th June 2011



Riga airport.
We will be met by Janis Ozoliņš (Pic top right) from the State Forest Service.  Accommodation in
Riga.  Evening in RigaCity


Travel to Ķemeri National Park (www.kemer.gov.lv),
The main topics of excursions will be: Challenges; finding a balance between conservation ...   more »

  Eco Tourism in the Ipel Valley – Slovakia

Nature Exchange

5th – 12th September 2011

Day 1

Arrival at Budapest airport. Trip to Šahy, a small provincial town on the Slovak-Hungarian border. Drive along the Danube, stopping in the medieval town of Esztergom for a couple of hours. Accommodation at the newly developed environmental education and visitor centre (Kingfisher Centre) of Ipeľ Union..

   more »