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Destinations for Nature Exchange 2014

The Nature Exchange Programme

European Union

Leonardo Da Vinci program

Nature Exchange has been developed with ARCH’s European partners over the last 10 years. We provide fully funded study visits for Scottish trainers to visit organisations in other European countries, to exchange best practice and to establish new contacts and partnerships for future cooperation. These study visits are funded by the Leonardo da Vinci programme; the costs of travel, accommodation and subsistence are covered by the grant. The projects are open to everyone working in natural heritage, conservation and land management sectors. The projects aim to develop their skills through a programme of study visits. This year we have programmes for Finland, Cyprus, Poland, Latvia, South Slovakia, Slovenia and Bulgaria. 6 people from Scotland will go to each country, spending 1 week participating in workshops, site visits, hands-on activities and seminars. It’s a great way to fulfil you CPD requirements and personal training plans for 2013 -14. All of our partners welcome input from participants, they are very happy to adjust their itinerary to cover topics that are of specific interest to Scottish practitioners. If you would like more information, and an application form please e mail me or ring me at the number below, or download a Nature Exchange application form from the web page.

Tel: +44 (0) 1764 671179

Finland.      Tampere University –  5th -11th May

Old growth forests, birds, bogs and beavers.

The programme be hosted by Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK)

Leonardo da Vinci

Participants will visit Pirkanmaa Regional Environmental Centre, Puurijärvi-Isosuo National Park, Helsinki University Forest Research Station at Hyytiala, Seitseminen National Park. They will meet with the staff from TAMK, forestry and nature park staff and with the Private Forest Owners’ Association. The focus will be on restoration of bird habitats, Natura 2000, conservation of peatland, game management and hunting and the restoration of the European beaver in Finland.

Norway.      Evenstad University –  9th -16th May



Poland.      Society for the Coast  – 22nd -29th June

22nd–29th June 2014


Odra Delta, Poland

Day 1

Late evening arrival to Szczecin-Goleniow and travel to village Czarnocin near Odra Delta Nature Park

Lodging: Bungalow Park “Gumis” in Czarnocin village

Day 2 

Odra Delta Nature Park (Society for The Coast protected area) a part of NATURA 2000 site

Lodging: Bungalow Park “Gumis” in Czarnocin village

Day 3
Wolinski National Park and meeting with its staff (cliff coast of Baltic Sea, back delta islands on Szczecin Lagoon, and European bisons herd, National Park and coastal resort Międzyzdroje co-egsistance)

Lodging: Bungalow Park “Gumis” in Czarnocin village

Day 4
Overview of South Baltic Sea Coast (small resorts, sandy beaches, culture and nature heritages)

Lodging: Bungalow Park “Gumis” in Czarnocin village

Day 5

Protected areas near town of Szczecin (forests and wetlands including Swidwie Reserve)

Lodging: Pension in small city Nowe Warpno

Day 6
Lower Odra Landscape Park and meeting with its Staff

Travel to Ujscie Warty National Park (Mouth of Warta National Park)

Lodging: Pension “Lucyna” in village Slonsk

Day 7
Ujscie Warty NP and meeting with its Staff (one from the most important birdlife area in Poland)

Lodging: Pension “Lucyna” in village Slonsk

Day 8
Travel from Ujscie warty NP to Drawskie Lakeland and Sczecin-Goleniow airport

Late evening departure from Goleniow airport

Slovenia.    Vitra Centre for Sustainable Development –  7th -14th July

Where did that Lake go?

The exchange is hosted by Vitra Centre for Sustainable Development in Cerknica. The focus of the exchange is sustainable land use and development, forestry management and nature based tourism. Participants will visit the limestone Karst area around Postojna, including Krizna cave and Rakov Skocjan and the protected landscape areas around Cerknica Seasonal Lake (turlough). They will visit Kočevski Rog, the country’s finest uninterrupted expanse of forest. It is home to all of Slovenia’s native mammals,  including the brown bear,  lynx,  boar and red deer, as well as birds such as the capercaillie, and is a regional park that hopes to achieve national status.


Romania.  Satul Verde (Green Village) –  25th -31st August

Romanian forests – a multi-functional resource delivering nature conservation outcomes

Day 1 ( Monday)

Arrival at Cluj Napoca, transfer to Alba Iulia. Dinner and discussions about the week ahead.

Day 2  ( Tuesday) 

Meet with the Forestry Department of Alba County –  discuss their objectives, focus on nature conservation.  Drive along the Mures river to an ancient wood pasture near Homorod  village . Picnic lunch in the pasture.  Tour of wood pasture and discussion of future conservation plan.
Overnight Orastie.

Day 3  ( Wednesday) 

Visit the forest research station and dendrological park in Simeria. Hear about their biotechnology and clonal programme for the protection of Romanian forest species. Picnic lunch in the park. Drive into the Apuseni Mountains, we will stop to see some stupendous vistas and discuss the relationship between forest & pasture.
Overnight Albac.

Cutting spruce to make alpenhorns
Cutting spruce to make alpenhorns

Day 4  ( Thursday) 

Drive up through pastures and forest to visit Traian and his family. They are farmers, forest owners and woodworkers. They keep cattle in the high pasture and manage small woodlots of beech and spruce. They  literally ‘ live of   the landscape’ –  making wooden utensils and alpenhorns. Lunch in the orchard by the house. We will walk in hay meadows and forest and discuss how biodiversity is maintained by local working people.
Overnight Albac.


Day 5  ( Friday) 

Stay in   the Apuseni Mountains , traveling to a more remote area around Horea. Meet a local forestry entrepreneur and see a programme of building wooden houses for tourism. We may also see horse logging and we will visit a family sawmill. We have a traditional dinner in a mountain farm.
Overnight Albac.  

Day 6  ( Saturday)   

We transfer to Girboviţa  and visit a traditional family farm. There we see cooking with wood and eat a ‘sustainable lunch’.  In the afternoon visit a local forester, see  oak forests and  look at measures (including building wattle fences) to keep wild pigs out of sweet corn and potato fields.

Day 7  ( Sunday)

Departure to Cluj

Latvia.        State Forest Service –  13th -20th September  (dates are still to be confirmed)

Cyprus.  Kato Drys Municipality –  20th -27th September

In the most southerly and easterly corner of Europe, Cyprus has a rich flora and fauna that is essentially European but has many endemic species and others from Asia and Africa. The island is a migratory ‘bridge’ for birds and in Mesolithic times hippopotami swan to the island from North Africa and fallow deer were common; now only the moufflon, fox and the super-rare monk seal are left of the larger mammals. Trees, both for food production and as part of a complex of forest types are horizontally zoned.

These zones change – seemingly through climate change and there have been severe droughts in the last 10 years; olive production moves up another 300 metres and at sea level some mature Pinus brutea trees die from drought. Animals and birds change their habits and patterns of migration and the introduction/ invasion of exotic species has had some negative effects.

Day One: Arrival and transfer to Pano Lefkara – 650 metre altitude village in the foothills of the Troodos mountains. Accommodation is in a traditional courtyard house.

Day Two: 30 minute off-road drive over the mountain to the village of Kato Drys (named from ancient Greek for oak trees). We see some spectacular vistas but also there has been large scale land abandonment. We visit the Muhktari of the village and hear his plans for more trees (and cultural development). We have lunch at the rural museum and are joined by a prominent meteorologist who describes some changes in vegetation zones. In the afternoon we climb the ‘vouni’ (small artificial hill) behind the village and gaze over the ‘doma’ (terraces). With local lady, Panayiota Demetriou, we reflect on the way this (still beautiful) landscape looked 50 years ago.

Day Three: Below Kato Lefkara are olive trees planted by Franks in the medieval period. We sit under the ancient canopies and talk about this ancient agroforestry system and the pollarding that allows trees to become so long-lived. Meet the Mayor for his views.

Day Four: We visit the Troodos Forest Park and meet foresters who tell us about climate change impacts on the forest – investigated through an EU-supported ‘COST Action’. On the drive down the mountain we visit Kouris dam and discuss the water crisis.

Day Five: A morning in the remote forested valley of Kyprovasa includes talking to shepherds, viewing fire damage, looking at invader species and insect damage, which has increased in trees suffering drought stress and considering the objectives of the forest management and its practical unction. After a picnic lunch we meet with Panayiotis – an olive and orange farmer.

Day Six: Morning visit to a forest area in the rain shadow of both mountain ranges. For three years there was no measurable rain but foresters still managed to establish forests of pine, cedar and juniper through engineered terraces and consideration of aspect. We go on to Athalasa forest nursery to hear about Government schemes to plant more native forests. In the afternoon we go deeper into Nicosia for cultural visits. Our evening meal will be in the Turkish Cypriot part of the city after crossing the ‘Green Line’ controlled by the UN.

Day Seven: Before departing for the airport, we spend some free time in Lefkara – we can visit silversmiths, lacemakers.

Slovakia.      The Ipel Union  – 22nd -29th September

Conservation and Recreation Forests

The programme is hosted by the Ipel Union based in the small town of Sahy in the Ipel Valley region of southern Slovakia. Participants will visit the wet woodland and water meadow area of the Poiple Nature reserve, search for the rare Carpathian ‘blue slug in the Turkey oak forest around Cabrad Castle, visit the Ipoly Duna National park where they have recorded European Lynx. Visit the Open-air Forest Museum at Čierny Balog and visit the Ipolytarnóc Fossils Nature Conservation Area on the Hungarian side of the Ipel watershed. They will spend a morning at the Forest School in Visegrád to meet and discuss issues with the leaders of the School.