Interactive outdoor activities, entertaining talks and discussions engaged experts and young nature lovers
The autumn started with an interactive event at the Bulgarian partners of the SaveGREEN project, the Black Sea NGO Network (BSNN) and the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation (BBF), with the support of experts from an associated strategic partner, the South-West State Enterprise (SWSE) at the Ministry of Agriculture, came together to organise an Info Day in Blagoevgrad.
About 40 young people from two local secondary schools, plus several teachers, experts, and community representatives, were involved in a variety of activities and outdoor demonstrations focusing on the rich store of wildlife and nature in the nearby mountains that give their name to the Rila-Verila–Kraishte Corridor pilot area. Participants were able to obtain information about the SaveGREEN project’s goals, objectives, and achievements.
Sixth-graders from the "Georgi Izmirliev" Secondary School and 11th-graders from the "Acad. S. Korolyov" School of Mathematics in Blagoevgrad learned a great deal about the wildlife species whose migratory routes cross the transport infrastructure of the pilot area near the city. They also discussed proposed project measures to support the functionality of ecological corridors and how to better protect biological diversity.
Experts spoke about the ecological corridors that wild animals use for migration, and highlighted the dangers that roads and car traffic pose for wildlife. The experts stressed the need to provide crossing facilities for wildlife to facilitate their movement across large territories and prevent accidents related to transport infrastructure.
Leaflets and factsheets for the Bulgarian pilot area were distributed to the local community. They included details about the pilot area, which is located along the 16-kilometer Lot 1 of the Struma Motorway and comprises 15 large facilities for wildlife crossing. These facilities have been constructed in a problem area to help mitigate an existing bottleneck and improve chances for the safe migration and long-term survival of various wildlife species.
Info Day highlights included the appearance of the ‘Forest in a Cart’ climate van in one of Blagoevgrad’s parks. During this entertaining educational activity, SWSE foresters Vera Stanisheva, Vanya Kamenova and Daniela Belemezova conducted several interactive wildlife-related games from the attractive mobile exhibit and were happy to share their knowledge and engage with young people. The students were also shown models of coniferous and deciduous trees, seeds, berries and herbariums.
The children took part in many other games and activities, and learned to recognise various animals by their footprints and the sounds they make. Along with promoting the SaveGREEN project, project partners also distributed educational materials to children and helped raise local community awareness of wildlife and forest protection issues.
Young people and other local community participants were particularly pleased with the distribution of mementos related to the Rila–Verila–Kraishte pilot area that reflected its connection with the region’s natural resources and rich biodiversity, while also inviting suggestions to make local ecological improvements.
The young participants received branded t-shirts with the image of the wildlife bridge as a gift souvenir. Meanwhile, the distribution of craft-paper teabags of aromatic herbs from the surrounding mountains (artfully designed and branded according to the project requirements) and natural-coloured cotton shopping bags with an image of a crossing facility, helped to commemorate the occasion and reinforce a public connection to the pilot area and local nature.
The event is part of SaveGREEN project activities.
The SaveGREEN project is financed under the ‘Danube’ 2014-2020 Transnational Cooperation Programme and is set to work on the critical theme of ecological corridors in the Carpathian and further mountain ranges of the Danube region.